Michael York plays a villainous twink in the black comedy Something for Everyone. He sleeps and murders his way into Angela Lansbury’s aristocratic family. The promising premise is undone by Hugh Wheeler’s flabby screenplay and Hal Prince’s timid direction. It’s never as funny or sexy as it pretends. However, it earns a place in the queer cinema library. York’s evil bisexual is balanced by Anthony Higgins’s sympathetic gay nobleman.
Wheeler’s story, loosely based on Harry Kressing’s novel, lifts moments from Entertaining Mr. Sloane, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Servant and Teorema. Let’s take a look in a spoiler filled recap.
Act One: Job Search
Scene One: Austrian Countryside
MICHAEL YORK: (A twink in short shorts.) Who owns that castle? I’ve always wanted one.
NICE FOOTMAN: The Countess Angela Lansbury. But she can’t afford to open it.
YORK: Does she need another footman?
MEAN FOOTMAN: No. Now scram.
PLAIN DAUGHTER: (Wears glasses.) That twink is up to something.
Scene Two: Outside the Opera House
(York slams a chauffeur’s hand in a car door.)
RICH LADY: Who are you?
YORK: Your new chauffeur.
RICH LADY: You’re hot.
YORK: I know. (They shag.)
Scene Three: Countess Lansbury’s Mansion
(York throws the nice footman under a passing train.)
YORK: I heard about the accident. You’ll need a new footman.
MEAN FOOTMAN: I’m watching you York. You’re sketchy.
LANSBURY: And handsome.
PLAIN DAUGHTER: Yes, he is.
GAY SON: Totes.
Act Two: Opportunities
Scene Four: Servant’s Quarters
MEAN FOOTMAN: I caught you shagging the gay son. You’re fired.
YORK: Nope. I just told the police about the Nazi uniform in your room.
MEAN FOOTMAN: That belonged to my father!
POLICE: You’re under arrest.
PLAIN DAUGHTER: Well played.
Scene Five: Countess Lansbury’s Room
LANSBURY: Poor folk don’t know how hard it is to lose a fortune.
YORK: Why don’t you sell the castle to the Rich Lady?
LANSBURY: It’s under entail. It can only be owned by the family.
YORK: Then she’d have to marry your gay son. You’d be rich again.
LANSBURY: You’re the new man. Utterly ruthless and immoral. Make it happen.
(Michael York frolics about the empty castle.)
Act Three: Weddings
Scene Six: Honeymoon
GAY SON: I hate pretending to be straight! I want a divorce.
YORK: Relax baby. We all pretend. It’s how we get what we need. (Kisses him.)
RICH LADY: I SAW YOU KISSING MY HUSBAND YOU PERVERT!
(York throws Rich Lady off a cliff.)
YORK: Problem solved.
Scene Seven: Blackmail
LANSBURY: I’ve asked York to marry me.
GAY SON: He can’t!
YORK: Relax baby. We’ll still shag.
PLAIN DAUGHTER: Nope. I’ve sent a sealed letter to the Mayor. To be opened in the event of my demise. With the evidence of your crimes. So you have to marry ME! The girl with the glasses! BWAH HA HA!
YORK: Whatever. I still get my castle.
Something Is Missing
HIGGINS: You can sleep with anyone, can’t you?Something for Everyone
YORK: If I have to. But I have my preferences.
York’s greatest resistance comes from the nasty head footman. Once the man is arrested the stakes vanish. York steamrolls the rest of the cast. His enforced marriage to Jane Carr is painted as a comeuppance. But he’s gotten everything he wanted. The true irony is that his dream castle is as run-down as Austria’s aristocracy.
Angela Lansbury is wasted as the dowager countess. Her quips are stale and she has no impact on the plot. She’s blissfully unaware of York’s schemes and her children’s antics. In recompense she looks absolutely stunning in her glamorous gowns.
Anthony Higgins is sad to see York marry. Though, if York truly prefers men, their affair may continue. He thinks his wife’s death was an accident. This keeps him off of York’s kill list. To the film’s credit, it never casts his sexuality in a negative light. This inspired a homophobic rant from critic John Simon: “What is objectionable is the covert slanting of the film toward making heterosexual relations unappetizing, and toward turning moral values upside down… The entire film exemplifies a kind of vengeance on the heterosexual world.”
Something for Everyone is not required viewing. But it makes an interesting curiosity for fans of the cast.
I learned of this film from the Bad Gay Movies podcast. You can listen to their review here. You can find my reviews on The Avocado, Letterboxd and Serializd. My podcast, Rainbow Colored Glasses, can be found here.