La Cage aux Folles (1978) Poster

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10/10
Makes the remake look like a bad joke (SPOILERS)
ColeSear31 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
It is impossible for me, having been exposed to The Birdcage first, to not compare the original and the remake. Almost from the word go I sensed a great disparity within the two films even though the remake ended up being and uninspired copy and paste writing job. The first thing that lends itself to creating a different tone is the music composed by Ennio Morricone. The music in the Birdcage by Mark Mothersbaugh and Jonathan Tunick is forgettable seeing as I've seen the remake three or four times and can't remember a single note while I've seen the original once and can still remember Morricone's score.

Ennio Morricone's gentle music takes us into a world that we shouldn't be afraid of. The key word to thinking about his music is sensitive. It exudes softness, tenderness which is aped by the action and the actors who are not ridiculous characterizations but with real people and real emotions. Due to the fact that all scenes include practically the same dialogue it is a huge complement to Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault that they made their characters more three-dimensional and real than Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.

The American interpretation of this film is also vastly different than the French. Due to the fact that this film deals with homosexuality which is a topic that still is tinged with taboo here Americans have to turn the film into a farce of a farce. In other words the movie has to be ridiculously over the top to be accepted. The pathetic part of the remake is that it perpetuates stereotypes and while the stereotypes do exist (for how do stereotypes come into being?) by merely making them more human we can see beyond a stereotype to the person portrayed. A perfect example of this is the opening scene. They are the same in both films. Renato (Armand in the American version) tries to get Albin (Albert) onto the stage to perform his act. In the American version Nathan Lane makes his character seem like a whining melodramatic pain-in-the-you-know-what because of this the scene is very funny but emotionally superficial. In the French version practically the same dialogue is spoken but because of the way Michel Serrault delivers his lines and because of the more subdued expression he has on his face the words take on weight. They have meaning they come across as real concerns for the relationship as opposed to a paranoid delusion and an excuse not to go on stage. It made me believe the affair was a possibility all over again and made me forget about the son and his impending marriage.

The deception of the possibility that Renato is having an affair is aided by the son's appearance. In the American version he was clean-cut and Ivy League here the son in full 1970s look long hair included.

La Cage aux folles in 1978, even in France, was a more progressive film depicting a gay relationship, a gay couple who had raised a son and how the couple still had to pretend in certain social situation while longing to be completely honest. By 1996 in the United States homosexuality was not such a hot topic of controversy yet a slapstick-esque context is the only way the mainstream will be able to accept gay characters. Dramas about homosexuals are sole dominion of the art houses.

This is a film that does something very difficult to do. It takes a situation that is rich with comedy and imbues it with humanity and warmth. Making this a layered comedy which is something rare regardless of the country the film is made in. Le Cage aux folles is a really fun film which takes a serious look at human relationships and society's perception of people's lifestyles without putting any one down or getting preachy. It's a lot of fun.
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8/10
A truly wonderful international comedy
Vigilante-40729 July 2001
I don't care what country you are from or what your sexuality is, La Cage Aux Folles is an endearing comedy the likes of which comes around perhaps once a decade.

Michael Serrault is the centerpiece of the film, as the star of the La Cage revue and the "mother" of the young man wishing to marry the daughter of an incredibly "moral" politico. The toast scene had me rolling on the floor...Serrault's high-pitched nervous yelps punctuate the film's comedy.

One of the few cult films really deserving of that status, La Cage is not one to be missed.
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Better than its remake.
tcuthbertson18 November 1999
I first saw La Cage Aux Folles after its American remake "The Birdcage". This was unfortunate because that meant the plot was already familiar to me. However, it was even more hilarious than its American version. The characters in the American version are nearly exact duplicates of their French counterparts. Somehow, the whole movie appears funnier in its original French (even though I don't speak French).

American audiences may like the remake better because the script was rewritten so that its humor was more topical. For instance, Gene Hackman's character is an obvious farce of Bob Dole, who was a prominent republican leader at the time. The French version contains a more generic conservative versus liberal dialogue.

However, if you can stand reading the translations, La Cage Aux Folles is well worth your time. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
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8/10
Breakthrough gay film
preppy-318 May 2003
I have fond memories of this film. It played in Boston in 1979--back then I was a closeted high school kid. It played for over a year at a theatre in Boston and I was curious to see why. I somehow got in (the film was R rated and I looked about 14) and loved it! It was funny, uplifting, gay positive and made me realize there is nothing wrong with being gay. Seeing it again over 20 years later it's not as funny or uplifting as it once was but I still enjoyed it.

The plot is old hat and the movie is directed by the numbers but the script has some very funny lines and all the performances are great. Particularly funny are Michel Serrault (as the more feminine gay man) and Michel Galabru (as the minister of moral order). The final dinner party sequence is absolutely hysterical!

Some people have said this film has stereotyped gay characters and that Serrault's constant screaming is annoying. I disagree--I found nothing offensive about the characters (there are gay men like Serrault--I've met them!) and his screaming is actually pretty funny. A very good French farce--well worth seeing. Ignore the R rating--it only has that because of the subject matter (which was pretty risky for 1978). If it were rerated today it would easily get a PG-13.

Skip the two sequels and the Americanized remake "The Birdcage" in which they use the exact same script as the original--with all the same jokes and some bad new ones added in.
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C'est drole!
Bucs196030 October 2002
This cult classic deserves its reputation. I saw it many years ago at a film festival and have loved it ever since.....I grabbed up a video as soon as it became available. It appears, that in the last few years, some critics are finding fault with the film but in my opinion it has held up well.

The two main characters and the actors that play them are priceless. Ugo Tognazzi, one of my favorite Italian actors,is so suave and world-weary as Renato, the stronger of the couple. Michel Serrault is a nervous, overwrought, insecure prima donna who squeals and minces his way through life and will have you falling off the couch with delight. Although there is not a lot of affection shown between the two, the underlying strength of their relationship is evident.

One warning......do not see the dubbed version of this film!! It is most unsatisfactory. The sub-titled version at least retains the voices of the actors which is part of the appeal of the film. If you speak French, please see the original...many of the lines do not translate well to English and contain nuances that are not present in the translation. Whichever version you see (sub-titled or original), it will be a viewing experience that will bring tears of laughter....it's a joy!
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9/10
C'Est magnifique! Terrific French farce transcends the language barrier in getting its laughs and message across.
gbrumburgh19 May 2001
Already considered a mainstream cult classic, "La Cage aux Folles" ranks as one of the biggest crossover box-office hits ever to land on American soil. And for very good reason. Italy's Ugo Tognazzi and Gallic Michel Serrault are the most inspiring and oddest couple to appear on screen since Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and just as entertainingly colorful as Siegfried & Roy!

Tognazzi essays the role of Renato, a suave, successful, over-the-hill cabaret owner whose nightly drag revues spotlight his long-time partner Albin (who goes by the stage name "Zaza"), a touchy, temperamental, hopelessly mincing diva who has got to be seen to be believed. A neurotic wreck most of the time, Zaza (Serrault) is a full-time job for the exasperated Renato, needing constant coddling and stroking when it comes to "her" age (she's up there), figure (a deep fondness for chocolates hasn't helped), and affairs of the heart (they are celebrating their 20th year anniversary, but the invariably jealous Albin/Zaza is sure Renato is playing around while she's performing). Getting the insecure Zaza on stage every night usually includes your usual number of psychoanalytical sessions, shoe-throwing tirades and prescription medicines.

The fun begins after Renato's son, Laurent, conceived during a temporary moment of heterosexual abandon ("you should try everything once"), informs his father of his plans to marry -- a girl! The daughter of a staunch, right-wing bureaucrat whose political party is in the midst of a shocking moral scandal, Laurent is obligated to introduce her priggish parents (who think a big traditional wedding could restore the party's reputation) to his "straight" parents. The fiancee has passed them off as a respected cultural attaché for the Italian embassy and a Catholic housewife/mother of six.

The resulting farcical set-up unleashes a barrage of priceless comic moments as the pair must not only refurnish their "gay-ly" luxorious apartment, which is right above the nightclub, but pass themselves off as heterosexuals. The crème de la crème of all scenes takes place at a restaurant where the somewhat more virile Renato instructs Albin how to drink tea, butter toast, and walk butch á la John Wayne! The dinner party segment too is absolutely crammed with riotous sight gags, especially the erotically-designed soup bowls and shoeless butler bits.

The cast is impeccable. Serrault and Tognazzi are to be cherished for pulling off such an acting coup. Under normal circumstances, these two roles could be hammy, forced and quite offensive. But in the hands of this pair, they are not only funny, but credible and even touching. Serrault, in particular, is a marvel, with every gesture, tone and vocal inflection coming from a real emotional center, while Tognazzi's charming boulevardier provides the perfect "straight" man to Serrault's antics. Together, their "I am what I am" message really hits home. You believe these two as a couple. You believe their longevity. You believe their spats. You believe their devotion.

Michel Galabru and Carmen Scarpitta are superb as the strict, moral-minded parents who slowly come to the horrifying realization that all is not right with their prospective son-in-law's family. Benny Luke has some wonderfully outré moments as the gay couple's barefoot live-in "French maid" who dusts the house in skimpy hot pants and very little else. Claire Maurier is effective as Laurent's estranged mother, who tries to get back in Laurent's good graces by agreeing to be part of the dinner party charade.

Two lesser sequels and an abominable American remake cannot tarnish the beauty of the original. WARNING: When renting this video, make sure you rent the version with sub-titles, not the inferior English-dubbed version. Much of Michel Serrault's magic is in his voice.
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Hilarious farce, much better than the sequels or remake ("The Birdcage").
otter6 March 1999
Absolutely classic French bedroom farce, hilarious from start to finish. Oft-told tale about two gay lovers whose son wants to marry a politician's daughter, and the lover's attempt to straighten out for one night. So far there are two sequels, a musical version, and an inferior American remake ("The Birdcage" with Nathan Lane and Robin Williams), but this is the original, the only, the funniest, the best.

Don't let the subtitles intimidate you, this is hilarious, this is the best, this movie RULES.
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9/10
great comedy about gay lovers
MonikaCzwornog6 January 2005
The first time I saw "La Cage ax Folles" was in my French film class and I loved it. Michell Serrault became my favorite French actor after watching this comedy. He is really great and I could not stop laughing. You don't even have to speak nor understand French too much, because just looking at him makes you laugh. Another factor that contributes a lot to the good acting of the two lovers are fabulous costumes. My favorite one was the heart-shaped one worn by the butler, but they were all great. I have also seen the American remake of this film "The Birdcage" and I have to tell you that it doesn't even compare to the original. There are more part of La Cage aux Folles, but the first one is the best of all and I would definitely recommend it.
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9/10
Brilliant Comedy
"La cage aux folles" is a brilliant comedy. It is the film upon which "Bird Cage" with Robin Williams is featured. One should not miss this classic expose of trans sexual entertainment. The novelty of such sexual innuendos was rare in 1978 when this picture was released. If is followed by an equally funny comedy, "La cage aux folles II", another film to be added to the must see category. One does not even require the translations across the bottom of the screen. One can simply enjoy the artistic perfection of pure cinematic comedy as presented visually. The French subtitles are well adapted. The scenery is clever. The cast is perfect. Don't miss this great comedic success.
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10/10
HILARIOUS ORIGINAL; Rest are fraudulent ripoffs
gjsandie21 February 2003
I was literally dragged to this movie in the late 1970s, at an "Art" theatre (left pinky up in the air) no less. Needless to say, I didn't want to go. For crying out loud, I'm an ex-jock.

Well, I'm glad (this time) my friends insisted. I doubled over laughing; at the time, this was risque material (nobody wore sunglasses into the theatre, if I remember correctly, but still) that didn't interest me one way or another. But somehow, someway the writer, director and actors made you care about these two men and their dilemma. The champagne scene almost caused me to bolt for the men's room.

I never did see Robin Williams remake. What for?? It was done to perfection by this film crew. Winner of best Foreign Film Oscar, I believe, 1978.
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One of the best comedies (not only foreign films) ever made
MisterWhiplash23 June 2000
I say that exept in a few cases, the original never disapoints. This is a prime example of that. The perfect French comedy about a gay couple, who have a son (It's one of theirs) who is getting married. Since the son's in laws are stuck up rich people, they have to hide they're gayness for one night. Great (anf hilarious) entertainment may have been later re-done, but it can never be mathced. One of the best foreign (and comedic) films ever made. A+
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8/10
À s'en tordre de rire! Great comedy!
LeRoyMarko6 November 2004
Great classic comedy by Molinaro. The movie was breaking with the rule at the time. Of course, the characters are presented in a stereotyped kind of way, but I think it was appropriate at the time. The farcical set-up helped bringing crowds. And somehow, I'm sure the gay cause moved a step forward with this movie.

Some scene are simply hilarious. I can't tell you how I found the toast scene funny! And try to walk like John Wayne! But I would agree that the second half was a lot more funnier than the first. Never the less. Serrault is excellent. But he's not alone: so is Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Galabru. I love that guy, ever since, as a kid, I watched him in the Gendarme series with Louis DeFunès.

Excellent musical score by Ennio Morricone. Gotta love it!

A comedy to enjoy many, many times.

Out of 100, I gave it 82. That's good for *** out of ****.

Seen at home, in Toronto, on November 6th, 2004.
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7/10
Great comedy, possibly ruined by the remake
rooprect6 July 2013
Like many Americans, I saw the remake "Birdcage" first. Only recently did I get a copy of the original. "La Cage aux Folles" is a great comedy, well deserving of its praise and classic status; I just wish I had seen it before I saw "Birdcage".

The reason is (through no fault of the original French filmmakers and actors), the American remake is one of the few films that did a good job of suiting it for American audiences. They got some of the most recognizable and endearing actors, and they really played on the humor of America's brutal division between Conservatives and Liberals. In other words, it hits home.

"La Cage" carries more of a nostalgic distance, in the fact that it's both European and an older 70s film. Like watching "Casablanca", you can get engrossed in the film, but you never quite picture yourself in context ...especially when you keep thinking of Robin Williams and Nathan Lane who both did an excellent job of staying true to the original characters played by Tognazzi and Serrault.

OK, enough irrelevant comparisons. I just wanted to get that out first, in case you're pondering whether to watch "La Cage" or "Birdcage" first. Definitely start with "La Cage".

"La Cage aux Folles" is simply fabulous. With a screenplay by Francis Veber, whose pinpoint comedy and wit makes him a modern day Moliere, you can't go wrong. Gags are handled with the perfect finesse, even the corny slapstick ones. The scene where Michel Serrault is learning (very unsuccessfully) how to butter his toast "like a real man" had me howling. I can't imagine how Ugo Tognazzi could keep a straight face.

Other memorable gags happen throughout the film, and whether you're French, American or Martian, you've got to understand the universal language of comedy. Serrault's high pitched yelp gets my vote for funniest and most infectious sound uttered by a human since Homer Simpson's "D'OH!" The story itself, while purportedly being about drag queens of loose moral character (haha), is safe, clean and absolutely fun for the whole family. Sexuality aside, it's simply a classic comedy of errors that anyone can enjoy.
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8/10
French Farce at its best
FrontStalls23 September 2001
A wonderful gallic romp where even the most hardened must surely empathise with the ridiculous predicaments our protagonists weave themselves into. Probably Michel Serrault's greatest role to date, he is ably supported by Ugo Tognazzi. Oozing European style throughout. The American Bird Cage is a very poor imitation.
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7/10
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (Edouard Molinaro, 1978) ***
MARIO GAUCI5 August 2007
I had never watched this because I only owned it in French without subtitles (though it's been shown several times on Italian TV over the years) but did catch the inferior first sequel dubbed in English; to be honest, I'm not particularly interested in checking out the Americanized version – even after acquainting myself with the original (soon after co-star Michel Serrault's passing).

The film is well acted (by Serrault, Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Galabru) and very funny, though no masterpiece; it seems surprising now that a 'vulgar' farce would receive an Oscar nomination for Best Direction – that said, there's no denying its originality and style and, in any case, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES epitomized the 'alternative' gay lifestyle and immediately became the prototype of such films.

To my mind, the two best gags are: Tognazzi showing his manliness by picking on a dwarf for an offence directed at his lover Serrault (with the little man nonchalantly pointing to the big guy behind him as the real culprit), and the homosexual couple's black manservant (similarly inclined) bursting into laughter at seeing Serrault trying to pass himself off as Tognazzi's wife: the latter's son by a chance encounter is getting hitched and has brought his fiancé to meet the 'family' – the trouble is that the girl's father, Galabru, happens to be an MP with a party dedicated to preserving Moral Order! Unfortunately, the film's ending – the celebration of the wedding (following the fracas at the nightclub which, predictably, sees Galabru in drag) – is rushed and fairly lame when compared to what has gone on before.

I know the last entry in the series wasn't very good and, really, this should have been left as a one-off; incidentally, Tognazzi made another popular sequence of comedies around this same time (all of which I still have in my 'unwatched VHS' pile) – AMICI MIEI – which Pietro Germi initiated but Mario Monicelli took over after the latter's death, and with the third and final outing helmed by Nanni Loy.
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10/10
sparkling
lazersharks11 October 2000
I first came across this film at about three am when I was idly flicking through the channels.

I fell in love with it immediately.

The underlying thread of sensitivity is often overlooked in the face of the (admittedly often fairly broad) comedy but please, watch it! Watch the original! Watch it more than once! And avoid both the sequels and the American remake like you would a big poisonous spiky thing being guarded by rabid devil dogs wielding machine guns! And as I've now worried myself with my surfeit of exclamation marks I'll stop.
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9/10
Much Better than the American version
pernix16 September 1999
Micheal Serrault's acting is wonderful! And the movie is so well-written and directed that i's almost a miracle of craftsmanship. The USA version (The birdcage) is a carbon copy without the european lightness and the humor of Serrault and Tognazzi, not forgetting the lovely Michel Galabru as the ultra-catholic politician.
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Some Like It Not
ivan-228 April 2002
I saw the sequel first and found it absolutely hilarious, brilliant and inspired. The first version is far less impressive, because it is more subdued and the real comedy begins well into the movie, which at first looks like a tawdry, gratuitously nasty drama. Still, on balance, this one is also worth seeing. But there is a lot of contrived and ineffective stuff. For instance, the son is ridiculously angelic, as is his girlfriend. For a few minutes we are expected to believe that the son is a secret lover! Then, the father gratuitously insults his future daughter-in-law without even having met her. Also contrived is the fact that the son is marrying the daughter of an arch-conservative. And it is even more contrived that the president of the legion of decency - well, no spoilers. There are also plot inconsistencies: Albin is a bundle of nerves, yet jumps into his car and speeds off like a Daytona pro. That's unintentionally funny. Still, there are truly funny moments: "Mr. Baldi, you have seduced my husband!", the pinky scene, Mr. Decency's crossdressing, and the final wedding scene.
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9/10
Different Cultures
Lucile Dudevante21 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The issue between this film and its American remake, "The Birdcage", is not whether the second film glossed over the issues of homosexuality. French culture in 1978 simply did not allow a diplomat's daughter to marry the son of a nightclub owner, regardless of whether or not the nightclub was a drag club or not, or regardless of whether or not the diplomat was the secretary of the Union for Moral Order. Molinaro's point about Albin as a drag queen and Renato as his partner was made quite well, and several of the scenes where Albin "goes straight" are quite funny--but they weren't really the point of the movie.

But this film couldn't be PERFECTLY remade, retaining all of the original facets of the French movie. Mike Nichols couldn't possibly have made a comparison about the two cultures clashing in the film, in 1996 America. ANYWHERE in 1996 America, for that matter, not just "South Beach" Florida. If you criticize the movie on those grounds, it's not quite fair. Molinaro's original was made to amplify the horror of the culture clash, by using a gay pair as the groom's parents. Nichols' remake is meant to ONLY accentuate the fact that Armand and Albert are liberally gay--flagrantly so--and not that they aren't in Kevin Keeley's class.

The original is better for audiences who want something deeper and more meaningful, in that sense; but it doesn't mean that the remake is any worse for it. "La Cage" is less of a farce than "Birdcage", and that was intentional. I give both about the same rating--that is, excellent.
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8/10
Role (or lack thereof) of the mother
kyrat3 May 2006
I first saw the remake Birdcage many years ago, and only last night got around to see La Cage Aux Folles. I liked it a lot. I can only imagine it's impact back in 1978. (I also appear to be in the minority since I also liked the campy/funnier version of Birdcage with it's disco soundtrack).

I think what I liked best about the French version was the role of the mother. She was unapologetic about not wanting to raise a child. In this day and age of slow moving public acceptance of gay couples (and hopefully one day gay marriage), I found this challenge to the stereotyped notion of motherhood to be more (refreshingly)shocking than the gay issue. I barely remember how they explained the mother in the American version, I believe the parents had been married and were divorced and the implication was that the mother was in the sons life (I might be misremembering). Not all women have this maternal "instinct" that society insists they have. I was happy to see a successful career woman with no regrets for her choices.

I'm glad that they tried to hit on gender issues, class, race AND issues of sexuality, instead of just focusing on one to the exclusion of all others.

p.s. it reminded me a of Ang Lee's Wedding Banquet - I wonder if he was influened by this film or maybe trying to appear straight to appease traditional parents a common issue that many people have had to address.
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10/10
The old good french movie
Gustavo Bastos16 May 1999
I can't remember how many times I've seen this movie. I'm a fan of Ugo Tognazzi and I'm always looking for his movies. The "chemical" between Tognazzi and Serrau was perfect during the three movies. I have this movie in my collection and it's one of my favorite. It's the best of the trilogy. Although I'm a fan of Robin Williams, his "The Birdcage" is away from the original.
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5/10
Spoiled by dubbing?
MaiGhost1 November 2014
The remake "the Birdcage" is one of my favourite films. I first watched it with pals while one of our friends was in bed with migraine. Just after we finished watching it she left her sickbed to see what we were laughing about so much. So that she didn't feel left out we watched it again straight away and laughed even more. I have watched it again several times and always enjoy it.

Yesterday I watched La Cage Aux Folles. This was on Netflix and had English dubbing. It often seemed stilted and flat. At times some of the characters came across as uncomfortably angry rather than comedy angry. I have wanted to watch the original for a long time as it is so well spoken of. I can only conclude that the dubbing must have robbed the film of its soul.
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10/10
The French "Some Like it Hot" ...
ElMaruecan8228 July 2013
So flamboyant, decadent … and truculent … "La Cage aux Folles" (or "Birds of Feathers" in Shakespeare's language) is one of the sweetest and most delightful synopsis' of French Cinema: a gay couple, one's son who wants to marry the daughter of a right-wing conservative whose political reputation is severely tarnished by a sexual scandal, at the end, two set-ups that brilliantly culminate during a memorable dinner where the two gay men must pretend to be straight.

That's "Birds of Feathers", a sumptuously designed, magnificently orchestrated and superbly acted, French-Italian comedy. And I insist on the "French-Italian" branding because the dual nationality shows in every detail.

* The director is French: Edouard Molinaro who specialized in comedies of errors BUT the setting is a beautiful rendering of the traditional Comedia Del' Arte with this "underground" ambiance that lets our warmest and craziest fantasies bloom the time of a night.

* The film is in French language, with a mainly French cast BUT it possesses an incomparable Fellinian flavor exuding from the atmosphere of the titular burlesque cabaret 'La Cage aux Folles', a circus of zaniness where transvestites parade jovially and naturally, in an oasis of freedom disclosed from the worlds' conventions.

* And naturally, there's the iconic tandem that 'made' the film: the Italian Ugo Tognazzi and the French Michel Serrault, two icons in their respective countries, the Alpha-male and the eternal clown. One of these exquisite ironies is that Tognazzi was renowned for his macho roles, but he gave his most defining performance as Renato Baldi, the cabaret manager and companion of Albin aka Zaza Napoli.

* And as Zaza Napoli, Michel Serrault reaches the peak of his comical talent, providing his most hilarious performance rightfully awarded by a César (French Oscar). His pairing with Tognazzi is not just the typical funny-guy and straight man duo, so to speak, but something more poignant or melancholic, always endearing. Indeed, as we watch them arguing and reconciling, we never doubt that these men lived for 20 years and that they love and care for each other.

This is another point to insist on, because it will probably raise the most criticism. The complicity between Serrault and Tognazzi is crucial, not only because Tognazzi took the role that belonged to Serrault's all-time partner Jean Poiret (who co-wrote the original play with the famous screenwriter Francis Veber), but also because the contrast between the two men, is the key to appreciate and enjoy Serrault's over-the-top performance.

Yes, Serrault acted like a drama queen or capricious diva, but wasn't he annoying for Renato as well? Or the whole 'Birds of Feathers' crew for that matter? It is possible that "Birds of Feathers" is dated, campy or have this 70's vintage feel that didn't embarrass itself with conventions and stereotypes. And this is an argument I don't want to get sucked into, for a simple reason, the very remake, made in the 90's, in an era that wasn't deprived from political correctness, used the same concept, the same acting and the same stereotypes, because the director, Mike Nichols, understood that Albin's personality was the very device to make the whole intrigue believable.

And that's to the credit of the screen writing: would you believe an effeminate man like Albin could pass as a virile John Wayne's like figure or maybe would it be more believable for him, to impersonate a woman? Granted the film isn't "Tootsie", and belongs more to the "Some Like it Hot" category, still, any cross-gender story requires some suspension of disbelief. And there is something absolutely irresistible in the couple formed by Renato and Albin, and their interactions with Renato's son who's just announced his intent to marry … a girl. If Albin is adorable by overplaying his maternal side, leading to the ultimate disguise, Tognazzi deserves also a mention as the restrained figure of the film: a man who easily passes as a macho figure when compared to Albin, but doesn't fool anyone.

And the reason to be of "Birds of Feathers" blossoms during such hilarious moments where Renato teaches Albin how to act like a man, to smear butter in a toast, and not make a fuss over it getting pierced (Serraults' high-pitched reactions… oh the humanity!), to walk like John Wayne and so on and so forth. And the dinner is so full of moments where you expect the worst to come, and get even funnier when the masquerade works. Not quite so though, when the soon-to-be father-in-law, played by Michel Galabru notices some Greek men in weird position in the plates or Renato is startled by a sudden champagne pop, the comical timing is so perfect it would have made Billy Wilder jealous.

Now, is the film better or not than the remake? Well, it's not better simply because it's the original but because there's something more crafted in the film, the directing of Molinaro made of slow and suspenseful close-ups and tactful zooming and traveling, served by a joyful music from Morricone, gives the feeling that we're immersed in a whole new world. The film was Oscar-nominated in 1979 for Best Director, Best Costume Design and naturally Best Screenplay. And I guess Veber's name would ring a bell to movie fans for the writer is responsible for some of the cleverest and funniest French comedies of the last thirty years.

There are a few improvements in Mike Nichols' "Birdcage" especially in the father's character that was enriched through the performance of Gene Hackman, but overall, there's something classy that screams 'classic' in "Birds of Feathers", which fittingly became one of the most successful French film of the 70's, winning the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.

"Birds of Feathers" is to savor without moderation like a good Pistachio Macaron from Castel or gluttonously munch on like a toast with strawberries jam... God forbid you ever pierce it!
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La Cage Aux Folles
Coxer992 July 1999
Hilariously funny film version of the Pirot french stage farce with Tognazzi and Serrrault masterfully portraying a gay couple who tries to act straight for the sake of Tognazzi's son, who is marrying the daughter of a major French official of the Pillars of Morality. Wonderful timing and colorful performances make this lively romp worth watching.
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Fabulous!
Simon-10712 June 1999
Truly a wonderful, funny film. A 'must' for all gay folks and also for anyone else too! Serrault is great as Albin (Nathan Lane obviously took note of Serrault!) Don't get dubbed version - sub-titled is better!
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