LGBT Movies: Some of My Best Friends Are… (1971)

Welcome to the Blue Jay Bar where the music is loud, the patrons are sad and everyone’s looking for love. It’s post Stonewall but men still aren’t allowed to dance together without a woman present. The shapeless script jumps from person to person with no protagonist or dramatic through line. Like 1970’s Sticks and Stones the film provides a valuable time capsule of New York’s gay culture. But where that film has some joy, Some of My Best Friends Are… is relentlessly dour.

Want to learn more? Then read my spoiler filled recap.

Act One: Setting Up Subplots

1 Glasses and the Waiter
Glasses consoles the Nervous Waiter.

Scene One: A NY Gay Bar on Christmas Eve
(A sad song plays over a montage of sad gay men.)
SAD SONG: “Where do you go when there’s no place to go?”
GLASSES: Wilkommen! Bienvenue! Hello darlings! I’m one of the 30+ characters in this mess of a film. It’s hard to summarize but I’ll try to untangle a few threads.

Scene Two: Blind Date
NERVOUS WAITER: I have a blind date! But he thinks I’m a woman.
GLASSES: Why does he think that?
NERVOUS WAITER: Because he’s only heard me on the phone… and I called myself Sherry.
TOUGH GUY: I’m here to see Sherry. What kind of joint is this?
GLASSES: I can tell this is supposed to be funny, but I find it unpleasant.

Scene Three: Unhappy Couples
MARRIED PROFESSOR: I hate being gay. Why don’t you leave me?
INJURED SKIER: Because I love you and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

CLOSETED ACTOR: I hate being gay. I wish I could just ball chicks.
NEBRASKA TWINK: I moved here from Nebraska and I’m awfully scared.
CLOSETED ACTOR: I no longer hate being gay.
GLASSES: Yes folks. He actually says he wants to “ball chicks.”

Scene Four: A Golden Girl
GLASSES: Here’s my favorite subplot.
RUE MCCLANAHAN: Hello boys! Years from now I’ll play Blanche on The Golden Girls. Now I’m playing a glamorous diva who ADORES gay men!
PILOT: Stay away from her.
ARTIST: Why? She seems fun.
RUE MCCLANAHAN: Sleep with me!
PILOT: I already told you no.
RUE MCCLANAHAN: HOW DARE YOU SPURN ME! IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE SLEEPING WITH THAT ARTIST! I’LL MAKE YOU BOTH SUFFER!
ARTIST: Huh.
PILOT: Yep.

Act Two: We Need a Little Christmas!

6. Eye Roll
Carleton Carpenter rolls his eyes.

Scene Five: Meet the Extras
GLASSES: There are more people to meet but this recap got too long. Here are some highlights.
HUSTLER: I wish I could still attract women. I hate being gay-for-pay.
WOKE PIANO PLAYER: I’m straight but cool with the gays. As the only black man in this film I’ve got no tolerance for prejudice.
GIGGLER: I say naughty things and giggle! (Giggles.)
EYE ROLLER: People keep bumping into me. When they do I roll my eyes. (Eye roll.)
GLASSES: That bit never gets old. I’m lying. Now back to the “plot.”

Scene Six: Christmas Party
PRIEST: It’s time for Christmas carols!
(The patrons sing. The Priest has flashbacks to his church choir.)
WOKE PIANO PLAYER: And now a Hanukah carol for the Maternal Jewish Waitress!
MATERNAL JEWISH WAITRESS: You boys wrote me letters when I was in the hospital. You saved my life.
(The patrons applaud her.)
GLASSES: That was heartwarming. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Act Three: Pay Offs

3. Mamas angry
Mama sees your dirty pillows.

Scene Seven: Queen of the Fairies
NERVOUS WAITER: He didn’t recognize me. Now I’m depressed.
(Glasses put wings and a crown on the Nervous Waiter and hoists him on a rope.)
PATRONS: We believe in fairies! We believe in fairies!
NERVOUS WAITER: I feel better now.
GLASSES: You’re welcome.

Scene Eight: Hate Crime
CANDY DARLING: Hello. I’m Candy Darling. I starred in Andy Warhol films. My subplot’s triggery so we’re going to skip the details.

Trigger-Warning

CANDY DARLING: The self-loathing hustler thinks I’m a cis woman. When he learns I’m trans he beats me up.
GLASSES: The rest of us aren’t much help. We try to separate them but there’s a lot of screaming and shaky cam that makes it unclear what’s going on.
CANDY DARLING: It’s important representation of transphobia in the gay/bi community. But that doesn’t make it less painful.

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Scene Nine: A Golden Girl’s Revenge

Spoilers

(Artist and Pilot are dancing together.)
RUE MCLANAHAN: Hey Artist? I called your mother.
ARTIST’S MOTHER: SON HOW COULD YOU? YOU’RE SICK! YOU’RE DIRTY! YOU’RE DEAD TO ME! (She slaps her son’s face.)
ARTIST: Mother I’m financially supporting you. Let’s talk in a few days.
PILOT: I’m sorry. The film doesn’t let you be that rational.
ARTIST: Oh all right. MAMA DON’T GO! I’M SO SORRY! FORGIVE ME! (Mama storms out. Artist sobs in the Pilot’s arms.)
RUE MCLANAHAN: I’m suddenly remorseful. (Leaves.)

Scene Ten: Slightly Happier Couples
NEBRASKA TWINK: Being gay must be awful!
NO LONGER CLOSETED ACTOR: It’s not so bad. Come home with me.
NEBRASKA: … Okay.

MARRIED PROFESSOR: I’m going back to my wife.
INJURED SKIER: Stay with me! (Sobs.)
MARRIED PROFESSOR: … Okay.

NERVOUS WAITER: This party was awful.
GLASSES: Want to go to another party?
NERVOUS WAITER: … Okay.

MOBSTER BARTENDER: They’ll be back. Where else has a f** got to go?
SAD SONG REPRISE: “Where do you go when there’s no where to go?”

THE END

GLASSES: Well that was almost a happy ending.
CANDY DARLING: Don’t go there. You know, you didn’t need to list every subplot.
GLASSES: A messy film deserves a messy recap.

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name

2. Candy and the Priest
Candy Darling and the Priest

The Bad Gay Movies podcast called it “The gay manic-depressive Cheers.” The New York Times wrote “I couldn’t really tell whether this was purposely grotesque or just bad.” Would a through line have helped? Does a story need a protagonist? Who would you have picked? The new kid from Nebraska? The sympathetic Artist? The snarky guy in Glasses?  Or perhaps the bar is the protagonist. (Eye roll.)

For more reviews of QUILTBAG media click here.

Next time we’ll visit the fading Continental Bathhouse in 1975’s Saturday Night at the Baths.