LGBT Movies: Different (1962)

Alfredo Alaria plays an eccentric dancer. He clashes with his conservative family. They suspect he may be… different. His penchant for performing campy musical numbers in revealing costumes is a clue. Different couldn’t directly address homosexuality in Franco’s Spain. But it had fun sneaking subtext past the censors.

Learn more in this spoiler filled recap.

Act One: The Wicked Stage

Prologue: Alfredo’s Apartment
(The camera pans past a pile of Alfredo’s books. Oscar Wilde, Federico Garcia Lorca, Marcel Proust, The Joy of Gay Sex… Okay. Not the last one. But the theme is clear.)

Scene One: A Theater
ALFREDO (a handsome dancer): (sings) Welcome to my theater! You’ll want to stay!
SANDRA (a showgirl): (sings) I need a husband. Let’s marry today!
ALFREDO: (sings) The problem with that is I’m totally- hey!
(Sandra drags Alfredo into a chapel as the number ends.)
AUDIENCE: (applauds.) Great show. Lotta subtext. Really makes you think.

Scene Two: Bisexual Nightclub
SANDRA: If Alfredo won’t date me, I’ll date a chorus boy.
ALFREDO: I’m jealous of… one of you!
(Alfredo and the Chorus Boy have a dance fight. Alfredo’s shirt is torn off.)
SANDRA: Is this reality or a musical fantasy?
ALFREDO: I can’t tell the difference anymore! (Alfredo flees.)

Act Two: Civilian Life

Scene Three: The Family Business
CONSERVATIVE BROTHER (always dresses in grey): Drinking? Singing? Dance Fighting? You bring shame upon this family!
FATHER: I love you son. Even though you’re different. Why don’t you take a respectable job at my construction company?
ALFREDO: ‘Cuz it’s boooring. How about another dance number!
(A marionette dance fantasy ensues.)
CONSERVATIVE BROTHER: Cut that out Liberace!

Scene Four: A Hard Days Work
CONSTRUCTION WORKER: ‘Scuse me boss. I gotta get to work.
(Construction worker pounds the concrete with a jack hammer. Alfredo stares lustily.)
ALFREDO: Egad! It’s those different thoughts again!
(Alfredo flees. He rings the doorbell of a female admirer.)
ALFREDO: Let’s have heterosexual intercourse.

Scene Five: Father’s House
FATHER: It’s so nice to have my boys home for Christmas. Even the different one.
(Alfredo dreams he’s dancing on a mountain. In very tight pants.)
CONSERVATIVE BROTHER: He’s doing it again! You’re a disgrace.
ALFREDO: You’re an idiot! (Storms out.)
FATHER: He’ll go right back to those theater folk. I have to save him! (Drives after Alfredo.)

Act Three: Gotta Dance

Scene Six: Bisexual Nightclub
AFRICAN DANCERS: Hey man. You got bad vibes.
ALFREDO: What should I do?
AFRICAN DANCERS: Dance a macumba with us! It will tell your future.
(Alfredo takes drugs and has a musical fantasy. He dances with African natives. His shirt is torn off… again. He sees Sandra stick a knife in a voodoo doll.)
ALFREDO: This is culturally insensitive. What does it mean?
AFRICAN DANCERS: You’ll destroy everything you love. You’ll be forever alone!
ALFREDO: Not sure how you read that from my dance, but sure.
(A crash. Alfredo has a vision of his father in a car wreck.)

Scene Seven: Father’s House
ALFREDO: Where’s papa?
CONSERVATIVE BROTHER: Dead. Because of you. Now get out!
(He shoves Alfredo. Alfredo rolls dramatically down the stairs, out the hall and into the yard.)
ALFREDO: God forgive me for my different ways! Show me a sign!
(It begins to rain. Dramatic music plays.)
ALFREDO: Does this mean we’re cool?


Tap Your Troubles Away

Despite its moralizing final message, Diferente is also the portrait of a man who ends up having a miserable life because he cannot be who he is. Something that it is possible that Alaria himself also felt, in part, in his life as a gay man in Francoist Spain.


My life was a constant struggle, because as my responsibilities grew day by day, I gave myself relentlessly to my profession.… Success sometimes has such a high price.

Alfredo Alaria, quoted by La Nacion

Argentine dancer and choreographer Alfredo Alaria (1930-1999) had staged the musical numbers for his dance troupe. He crafted the loose story to preserve them on film. This explains why the film feels so disjointed. It’s a jukebox musical of sorts. Alaria’s at his best in these numbers. His gleeful energy is infectious.

Director Luis María Delgado claimed that not a single frame was cut from the finished work. What seems blazingly obvious today was subtle enough to sneak past the censors and the critics. None of the major reviews of the time mentioned homosexuality.

Diferente was restored in 2015. It can be watched on FlixOlé. You can find more of my reviews on The AvocadoLetterboxd and Serializd. My podcast, Rainbow Colored Glasses, can be found here.