Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Happiest Millionaire (Norman Tokar, 1967)

I'm stunned at how progressive Disney was with sexual politics in the late 1960s. The Happiest Millionaire follows a homosexual horndog played by Tommy Steele aka Toothy McTootherson (or is that Tusky McMammoth?). He goes cruising the openly secular (!) John Davidson (of That's Incredible! fame).
I mean, he really lusts after him!
Eventually, they get it on at a gay bar.
And a good time is had by all.
Just kidding. That was my willful queer misreading to stay awake in the final third of this Three. Hour. Movie. In truth, it features an ancient heteronormative gambit - not only does the film end with the requisite formation of the heterosexual couple (Davidson and Lesley Ann Warren) but that formation must be celebrated, here by a community of prisoners they just met (although the Detroit song that scores the celebration is one of the few nifty numbers).
There are some touching moments throughout, especially from the underappreciated Fred MacMurray who has a tough time letting go of his daughter.
But as with all roadshow musicals ever, it's too long, too eager to please, too clueless, too too. Worth noting, though, is a cute breaking of the fourth wall...
a mention of Benghazi in song (rendered as "Bengasi")...
and a scene in which alligators are accidentally frozen but then thawed back to life which may have influenced Disney (who died just as production on this film was wrapping) to cryogenically freeze himself.



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