Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Musical extravaganza!

Friends on the Internet, I have exciting news for you. First, this:

That would be Ethel Merman and Mitzi Gaynor doing a mother and daughter naval drag duet in the 1954 film There's No Business Like Show Business. Did you see those sideburns!? You're welcome.

Second, that film is just stupendously fascinating from a queer perspective, and I encourage everyone to see it. It stars, in addition to those butch boys in the clip, Donald O'Connor (of Singin' in the Rain fame), Johnnie Ray (of 1950s pop star fame), Dan Dailey (of very little fame), and Marilyn Monroe. Gaynor, O'Connor, and Ray play the three children of Dailey and Merman—and they're all in a family Vaudeville act, The Five Donahues. Monroe plays the up-and-coming competition who steals their material but falls in love with O'Connor.

That's basically all you need to know about the plot, because the point of the film is the fabulous musical numbers (the exact same tight brown pants and poofy blue shirts that the chorus boys wore in Call Me Madam one year earlier! Inexplicably worn here in "Alexander's Ragtime Band!" But for some reason with slightly different Lederhosen tops!) and the subplot about Ray becoming a priest. That subplot features what might be the best coming out scene I have ever seen in a Hollywood film. Tearful Ethel Merman reassuring tearful Johnnie Ray that she will always love him despite his perverse desire that she just doesn't understand? Absolute cinematic gold! Especially considering that real-life Ray was gay (and oh boy does it show!) and real-life Merman was not very nice to the gay people around her. It's like she's trying to be redeemed for that nastiness by accepting her fake son and embracing him! So complicated! And so Technicolor!

Third and last, I have finally finished a draft of Chapter Three!!! I get comments from my advisor in a few days, then incorporate those while I also finish the last few pages of Chapter Four that remain unfinished. By the end of next week, I should have two chapters totally drafted and should have begun on my third chapter, Chapter Two! I am kicking my timeline's ass right now!

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