La Cage Aux Folles

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An international comedy smash based on a successful French stage play, the rip-roaring farce La Cage aux Folles depicts the crazed chaos that results when a gay couple attempts to pose as straight for the benefit of their son’s future in-laws. Renato (Ugo Tognazzi, La Grande Bouffe) owns a glitzy drag club in Saint-Tropez and is the long-time lover of Zaza (Michel Serrault, Diabolique), a wildly-popular female impersonator who is the club’s main attraction. Unfortunately, Renato’s son Laurent has told none of this to his future father-in-law, an important figure in an ultra-conservative political organization. Not wanting to ruin his son’s chance of happiness, Renato agrees to pose as a straight man, but he finds his familiar habits, and those of the even more flamboyant Zaza, getting in the way at every turn. Zaza is the one who comes up with what he thinks is an ideal solution: he’ll dress in drag and pose as Renato’s wife when the in-laws come to visit. Naturally, the plan does not pan out quite as expected. This elegantly convoluted comic scenario kicks off a wild, wacky and ultimately warmhearted French farce about the importance of nonconformity and being true to oneself. A surprise art-house smash in America (at the time, it was the highest-grossing foreign language film ever released in the US), Edouard Molinaro’s La Cage aux Folles went on to inspire two sequels, a major Broadway musical and the blockbuster Hollywood remake The Birdcage starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. But with its hilariously heartfelt performances and ahead-of-its-time social message, there’s nothing quite like the audacious, dazzling and still-side-splitting original movie. (Dir. by Edouard Molinaro, 1978, France, in French with subtitles, 96 mins., Rated R) Digital