La Cage aux Folles (1979): Oscar-Nominated French Comedy of Gay Couple and Straights around Them

The French film, which later became a successful Broadway musical with Harvey Fierstein, and a Mike Nichols Hollywood movie, celebrated gay subculture by making fun of macho appearances and pretensions.

Grade: A- (**** out of *****)

La Cage aux Folles
La Cage aux Folles (film).jpg

French release poster

The story of a middle-aged gay couple (played by Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault), who run a nightclub, in which Serrault has a drag act, was a new theme in the 1970s, untouched by most mainstream American movies. It would take at least another decade until the industry makes gay-themed pictures.

The whole movie is based on one premise that gets numerous permutations: Misunderstandings and complications that arise from Tognazzi’s son bringing home his fiance and her very straight parents.

The two French sequels were less appealing, though Mike Nichols’ American version, “The Bird Cage,” with Robin Williams, was quite commercially successful.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Director: Edouard Molinaro

Screenplay (Adapted): Francis Veber, Edouard Molinaro, Marcello Danon, Jean Poiret

Costume Design: Piero Tosi and Ambra Danon

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

In 1979, “Kramer Vs. Kramer” won the Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay awards. The Costume Design Oscar was won by Albert Wolsky for Bob Fosse’s musical, “All That Jazz.”

Credits:

Directed by Édouard Molinaro
Produced by Marcello Danon
Screenplay by Marcello Danon, Édouard Molinaro, Jean Poiret, Francis Veber, based on La Cage aux Folles by Jean Poiret
Music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography Armando Nannuzzi
Edited by Monique Isnardon, Robert Isnardon

Production companies: Les Productions Artistes Associés, Da Ma Produzione

Distributed by United Artists

Release date: 25 October 1978

Running time: 91 minutes

Budget $1.1 million
Box office $20.4 million