La Cage Aux Folles – License to frill
A lesser known, but oh so sweet soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. A groundbreaking story – well, for the Seventies at least. And two heartwarming older queens living together in the cosiest interior of the entire Côte d’Azur. All those elements combined make La Cage Aux Folles parts I and II the perfect place to start a new column I’m writing for renowned Dutch magazine WOTH | Wonderful Things about cult movies and their interiors.
Cette salope, cette bonne femme! That is Albin’s primal reaction when he hears the only son of his longtime companion Renato is engaged to be married…to a woman! It sets the stage for first act of La Cage Aux Folles, the 1978 French comedy that became the most popular foreign language movie in the USA – ever! Each night, its main character Albin performs as Zaza Napoli in her very own drag revue. And he clearly needs to get used to the idea of becoming a mother-in-law. How will Renato and Albin hide their ‘secret’ from the bon chic bon genre parents of their future daughter in law? Well, for one thing by doing a interior makeover that hides all traces of homely homosexuality from sight.
Which is a crying shame needless to say, because decades of scientific research have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that gay men decorate with 78 per cent better taste than their straight counterparts and don’t mind a frilled curtain more or less. Everything that gives pizzazz to Albin and Renato’s interior must go in order to create a decent impression: the primitive statue with the cute erection, the nude Blackamoor lamps – yes even the powdery blue satin sofa has to make an exit for one unforgettable night.
La Cage Aux Folles II, the inevitable sequel to the box office hit, does not disappoint the cult movie aficionado – especially in the interior design department: salmon pink bamboo trellises (indoor, mind you), brass bar carts with bottles of Pastis and Dubonnet and lilac wedge heels with matching satin scarves provide a delicious view of what fancy schmancy in the Eighties must have looked like. In fact, the entire set of La Cage II could move straight to the next edition of the Gevonden op Marktplaats Salon. One of my favorite scenes is right at the beginning. It features Albin sipping a refreshing menthe à l’eau in full drag on the terrace of Le Chantecler, the Michelin Star restaurant of the Negresco.
It is a not so subtle wink at the clothing style of Jeanne Augier, who is still the excentric owner of this legendary five-star hotel in Nice. After that, things get even better with a bizarre mix of vintage taste and a politically incorrect sense of humor: Albin inadvertently gets caught up in an international spy scandal, performs as a blackface version of Marlene Dietrich to avoid being recognized and finally flees the city in a shiny white Rover 3500 SD1. Let’s face it people – the gays have taste, even in a blind panic. By the way, finally I found the third installment, La Cage Aux Folles 3: ‘Elles’ Se Marient, on Amazon.de last weekend. Who said finding a cult movie with a kick-ass interior was easy?