La Cage aux Folles
Cage-aux-folles-la-french-movie-poster-md.jpg
French release poster
Directed byÉdouard Molinaro
Screenplay by
Based onLa Cage aux Folles
by Jean Poiret
Produced byMarcello Danon
Starring
CinematographyArmando Nannuzzi
Edited by
  • Monique Isnardon
  • Robert Isnardon
Music byEnnio Morricone[1]
Production
companies
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • 25 October 1978 (1978-10-25)
Running time
91 minutes[2]
Countries
  • France
  • Italy
LanguageFrench
Budget$1.1 million
Box office$20.4 million[3]

La Cage aux folles ([la kaʒ o fɔl], English: "The Cage of Madwomen"; also released as Birds of a Feather) is a 1978 comedy film directed by Édouard Molinaro, based on Jean Poiret's 1973 play of the same name. It stars Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault as a gay couple operating a drag nightclub in a French resort town, Rémi Laurent as the former's son, and Michel Galabru and Carmen Scarpitta as his new fiancée's ultra-conservative parents. The French-language picture was a Franco-Italian co-production by United Artists.[4] This was the first film adaptation of Poiret's play, which was later adapted into the 1996 American film The Birdcage.

The film was released in Italy on October 20, 1978 and in France on October 25. It was a considerable commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing foreign-language films released in the United States of all time. It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for three Oscars: Best Director (Molinaro), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Costume Design. Michel Serrault won the César Award for Best Actor. It was followed by two sequels, with Tognazzi, Serrault, and Galabru reprising their roles.

Plot

Like the play upon which it is based, the film tells the story of a middle-aged gay couple – Renato Baldi, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin Mougeotte, his star attraction – and the madness that ensues when Renato's son Laurent brings home his fiancée Andrea and her ultra-conservative parents to meet them.

Cast

Production

Exterior filming was on-location in Saint-Tropez and Nice, while interiors were shot at Dear Film and Cinecitta Studios in Rome, Italy.

Reception

Box office

As of 2020, La Cage aux Folles has remained the no. 11 [5] foreign-language film released in the United States of America. The film was the second highest-grossing film of the year in France with 5,406,614 admissions. In Germany, it received 2.65 million admissions, making it the 11th highest-grossing film of the year.[6]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 95% rating based on 21 reviews, with an average rating of 7.82/10. The site's consensus reads: "La Cage aux Folles is a fine French-Italian farce with flamboyant, charming characters and deep laughs".[7]

Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote that "the comic turns in the plot are achieved with such clockwork timing that sometimes we're laughing at what's funny and sometimes we're just laughing at the movie's sheer comic invention. This is a great time at the movies."[8] Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote in a negative review that the film "is naughty in the way of comedies that pretend to be sophisticated but actually serve to reinforce the most popular conventions and most witless stereotypes."[9] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "For me, 'La Cage aux Folles' was over soon after it began. It's all so predictable. This could have been a Luci & Desi comedy routine. The film's only distinctive quality is the skill of its veteran actors in working with tired material."[10] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called the film "a frequently hilarious French variation on Norman, Is That You? and has the same broad humor and appeal but has been put over with considerably more aplomb."[11] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post panned the film for "stale, excruciating sex jokes" and direction that "has evidently failed to devise a playing rhythm to compensate for whatever farcical tempo the material enjoyed on the stage."[12]

David McGillivray of The Monthly Film Bulletin described the film as "a crude amalgam of Norman, Is That You? and John Bowen's play Trevor ... All shrieks, mincing and limp wrists, La Cage aux folles also looks positively antiquated beside the sophisticated gay comedy of such as Craig Russell."[13]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Recipients Result
Academy Award Best Director Édouard Molinaro Nominated
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium Édouard Molinaro, Francis Veber, Marcello Danon, Jean Poiret Nominated
Best Costume Design Piero Tosi, Ambra Danon Nominated
César Award Best Actor Michel Serrault Won
David di Donatello Best Foreign Actor Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Foreign Language Film La Cage aux Folles Won
National Board of Review Best Foreign Language Film Won
Top Foreign Films Won
New York Film Critics Circle Best Foreign Language Film 2nd place
Sant Jordi Award Best Performance in a Foreign Film Michel Serrault 2nd place

Legacy

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Sequels

The film was followed by two sequels: La Cage aux Folles II (1980), also directed by Molinaro, and La Cage aux folles 3 - 'Elles' se marient (1985), directed by Georges Lautner.

Musical adaptation

The 1983 Broadway musical La Cage aux Folles based on the play and the film was also successful.[14]

American remake

In 1996, an American remake titled The Birdcage, directed by Mike Nichols and written by Elaine May, was released, relocated to South Beach and stars Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.[15]

Mentions

La Cage Aux Folles is mentioned in the 1993 teen comedy movie Anything for Love, a.k.a. Just One of the Girls. When the PE teacher finds out the main character is a boy dressing as a girl, she says "I thought you were gay. Not auditioning for La Cage Aux Folles."[16]

Adam and Yves

For the X-Rated film, see Adam & Yves.

La Cage aux Folles caught the attention of television producer Danny Arnold, who in 1979 pitched the concept of a weekly series about a gay couple similar to the one in the film to ABC. His planned title was Adam and Yves, a play on both Adam and Eve and a slogan used by some anti-gay groups. After months in development, Arnold realized that the concept was unsustainable as a weekly series, which led to the show getting dropped.[17]

References

  1. ^ Hinckley, David (21 January 2001). "Is Ennio Morricone cinema's greatest living composer?". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  2. ^ "BIRDS OF A FEATHER (LA CAGE AUX FOLLES) (AA)". British Board of Film Classification. 30 January 1980. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  3. ^ La Cage aux Folles at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ "La Cage aux folles (1978)". BFI. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  5. ^ Foreign Language Movies at the Box Office. Box Office Mojo.
  6. ^ "La Cage aux Folles (1978) - JPBox-Office". www.jpbox-office.com.
  7. ^ "La Cage aux Folles (1979)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger. "La Cage Aux Folles". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  9. ^ Canby, Vincent (May 13, 1979). "Film: 'Cage aux Folles,' Farce in a French Club". The New York Times. 41.
  10. ^ Siskel, Gene (July 19, 1979). "Acting helps, but 'La Cage' material seems tired". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 5.
  11. ^ Thomas, Kevin (July 18, 1979). "A French Variation on 'Norman'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 13.
  12. ^ Arnold, Gary (July 18, 1979). "Feeble Farce". The Washington Post. E6.
  13. ^ McGillivray, David (January 1980). "La Cage aux folles". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 47 (552): 5.
  14. ^ "La Cage aux Folles Broadway @ Palace Theatre - Tickets and Discounts". Playbill.
  15. ^ Susman, Gary. "'The Birdcage': 11 Things You (Probably) Don't Know About the Robin Williams Hit". www.moviefone.com.
  16. ^ Just One Of The Girls (1993). YouTube.com. Mark 50:35. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  17. ^ Tropiano, p. 252

Literature