- For Debbie Reynolds performance
- For actually having a film on TV about a real life gay couple and all the publicity it received for months and months
Author’s Note – Review originally posted December 11, 2013
Starring – Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, and a lot of other famous people, but I don’t know why they are there because they barely have anything to do
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
I was really, really, really looking forward to Behind The Candelabra. I kept counting down the months, weeks, days, hours until it was going to air. I read all the articles I could find on it and watched all the publicity on TV about it. I don’t have HBO, so a friend of mine who did have HBO was nice enough to let my wife and I go to her house and hijack her TV for a couple of hours so we could bask in the glory of gay TV. About 30 minutes into the movie, I was completely bummed out that I was not enjoying the movie. My wife was no fan of it either and by the time it was over, she was laughing at the heaven scene at the end of the film when she knew she shouldn’t have found it funny, and I was just sad that a movie I had so looked forward too, had so disappointed me.
I know a lot of people loved this movie and that’s great. I know the Emmy voters and acting award voters in almost every acting award that is out there loved Michael Douglas as Liberace because they gave him an Emmy and many acting awards for his performance. But was I the only one who noticed that he kept slipping out of character, changing from Liberace to Michael Douglas and back again? Maybe it was just Hollywood being Hollywood and rewarding a straight person for playing a gay role and this time a REALLY gay role for an actor who always plays the very macho, very straight roles. Oh well. As they say, “To each his own.” Which by the way, is also the title of a fantastic Olivia de Havilland film and she won an Oscar for it too. I think I have too much film history/trivia in my brain.
But the good news is that at least a movie about a real life gay man made it to TV after years and years of trying to get it made, and at least it got a lot of press and maybe helped make people more aware of the struggles gay people go through and how we are real people too with real problems. Well ok, Liberace’s problems were a bit surreal, but still the film got made and it was very popular.
Here is what I did love about the film. The scene where Liberace and Scott are snuggling on the couch and watching one of Liberace’s old TV performances. This was the only scene where they seemed like a loving couple and the only scene where it made sense that they actually liked each other and wanted to be a couple. And I LOVED the 3 (and sadly only 3) scenes that Debbie Reynolds was in where she played Liberace’s mother. She knocked this roll out of the park even though she was sorely underused, as were the other famous actors that appeared in this film from Dan Aykroyd to Paul Reiser to Scott Bakula. But Rob Lowe got some decent screen time with a really good part. He also knocked it out of the park. I’m not sure why they hired such famous people to play such small roles that were barely there, but whatever. And I couldn’t help but being a bit annoyed that Matt Damon was in his early 40s when he played the part of Scott Thorson, a character that started off at 17 in the film and aged to around 25. Matt Damon looks wonderful for his age and did a great job in the role (he should have been the one that won the Emmy), but I couldn’t help but wonder if the movie would have worked better if they cast someone in their early 20s, if maybe that would have made the film seem more plausible.
So I still recommend watching this biography about Liberace’s relationship with Scott Thorson. You might be one of the many people who liked it. I just wish I was one of them too. Oh well, as they say “Que sera sera.” Which is also a great Doris Day song and was in one of her films, The Man Who Knew Too Much, which was directed by one of my all time favorite directors, Alfred Hitchcock, who loved making movies about us gays. Yep, I do have way too much film trivia/history in my brain.
And oh yeah, so what’s this movie about anyway? Piano playing diva, Liberace, and his long-time boyfriend, Scott Thorson, and their very tumultuous relationship. Lots of drama! Lots of plastic surgery! And lots of no Debbie Reynolds, and like I said, that is a sad and horrendous crime!
Update 5/8/2017 – Well, I think I can finally enjoy watching this movie that I really, really, really wanted to enjoy, and I keep trying to enjoy it every time I watch the damn thing. BUT, now I think I can FINALLY enjoy it. Why? Because my big sis reminded me on the phone yesterday that Liberace had spaghetti dinner at my grandparents’ house once, so now I will just picture spaghetti dinner with my grandmother (or better known as Nanny Viv) and my grandfather (or better known as Guy) and just laugh and laugh and laugh, while I watch the movie. No, really, Liberace actually, really, actually did have my Nanny Viv’s famous spaghetti dinner. I wasn’t alive yet, dammit, so no spaghetti dinner with Liberace for me. My sister wasn’t alive yet either, so she was trying to picture Liberace sitting in our grandfather’s recliner, but she couldn’t quite picture it. I can’t quite either. I’m too busy laughing about him having spaghetti with Liberace still! 🙂 So, why did Liberace randomly eat spaghetti at my grandparents’ home? Because my uncle was his personal assistant one summer and wanted to win points with his mom, like any gay boy would do for his mother, who was a HUGE fan of Liberace, that’s why?!! Duh!!!
Yep, that’s my grandfather, who we all called Guy, who was all macho in his football uniform, but a couple of decades later and he was eating spaghetti with celebrity royalty. You just never know what life is going to serve you and that night it served Guy spaghetti and probably some pretty awkward conversations with Liberace. I’m still having a hard time picturing it myself. My grandfather was a little older than the picture above by the time Liberace came around, but he was still quite the masculine, good-looking man, so yeah, it’s just funny to me. Love you Guy! Miss you lots! What color socks are you wearing? (It’s an inside joke we had.) I heeded all those warnings you gave me as a kid and so I mostly wear red socks (to keep the ladies away), but some days, I wear yellow socks (as just a warning for the ladies to maybe stay away). I only wear green socks (to tell the ladies, oh my yes, come on over here, you sexy thing) when I’m home with my wife. You were right, you do have to tell the ladies when you need a day off from flirting with you! Who knew I would get lady advice from my grandfather??! But I did. He might have had an awkward dinner with Liberace, but I guess he didn’t mind me being gay, since he first started giving me avoiding-ladies-flirting-with-you-advice-by-wearing-the-appropriate-colored-socks when I was about 6 years old. 😉