Today I make my nomination to add to the gallery of Great Gay Moments in Film History. To qualify for this award, the first and main criteria is that the film has to pretend to be heterosexual, or at least the characters have to be pretending to be heterosexual. Obviously a film that announces itself as gay has a leg up on the competition. I personally believe that the main reason for the existence of the film industry is so that gay people can make a living. I think it’s nice that the occasional straight person get’s to be in film. It sort of adds variety to the mix.
There are different things that can make a film gay, of course. Hobbit love in the Lord of the Rings, for example. When Sam and Frodo gaze into each others eyes, that’s a Great Gay Moment. Some scripts are just gay. Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, with a completely straight(Hah!) face, manages to say without gagging, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner”, for which he didn’t receive an Oscar. It simply boggles the mind.
But those are the famous examples. The one I’m nominating isn’t nearly as famous as either of those, but to make up for that, it’s WAY gayer.
It was made in the Fifties with Danny Kaye, back when he was a big moneymaker for MGM. The film was “Hans Christian Andersen”, and it’s memorable mostly because no one knows how it got past the censors. Danny Kaye was such a genius he could get away with just about anything. This was supposed to be his first “straight” dramatic role(Pause for loud guffaws).
So Danny is featured as Hans, the famous gay fairy tale writer.
When the film starts Hans is a young man ready to go out into the world to seek his fame and fortune. Kaye was about fifteen years too old for the part, but this is Hollywood we’re talking about.
Hans, a single man wanting a family, bypassed the usual route of marriage and went straight to the Home for Gay Orphans and brought home Niels, a teen aged boy who he’s raising all on his own. Hans was teaching Niels to be a cobbler, or at least that was their cover story. Um Hmm.
Actually, it was okay. Farley Granger, who played Niels the orphan, was twenty seven years old at the time. They just made him up to look thirteen. But I’ll bet you a dollar Danny Kaye and Farley were boinking each other nonstop while they were filming. Danny can’t keep his hands off him in the film. Before Farley got this role he starred in “Rope”, a movie in which two psycho gay lovers commited a “thrill kill”. Maybe he thought he needed a lighter role after that.
But all of this is just building up to the film’s gay climax.
There are several songs by Frank Loesser in the film, some of which have become fairly well known. But for sheer gayness, none of them hold a candle to Danny Kayes hymn of praise to Copenhagen. Here’s the refrain:
Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Friendly old girl of a town
‘Neath her tavern light
On this merry night
Let us clink and drink one down
To wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Salty old queen of the sea.
At this point Hans and Niels have fled from their village and are passengers on a boat to Copenhagen, where they hope to escape notice and build a new life together. As Copenhagen is sighted everyone on the” ferry” boat bursts into song, celebrating that “salty old queen of the sea”.
I guess I’d get worked up, too.