The Birdcage is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Mike Nichols,
written by Elaine May, and starring Robin Williams, Gene Hackman,
Nathan Lane, and Dianne Wiest. Dan Futterman, Calista Flockhart, Hank
Christine Baranski appear in supporting roles. It is a
remake of the 1978 Franco-Italian film La Cage aux Folles by Édouard
Michel Serrault and Ugo Tognazzi.
5 See also
8 External links
Armand Goldman is the openly gay owner of a drag club in South Beach
called The Birdcage; his partner Albert, an effeminate and flamboyant
man, plays "Starina", the star attraction of the club. They live
together in an apartment above
The Birdcage with Agador, their
flamboyant Guatemalan housekeeper who dreams of being in Albert's drag
show as well.
One day, Armand's son Val (born after Armand had a one-night stand
with a woman named Katherine) comes home to visit and announces that
he has been seeing a young woman named Barbara, whom he intends to
marry. Although unhappy by the news, Armand agrees to support his son.
Unfortunately, Barbara's parents are the ultraconservative Republican
Senator Kevin Keeley and his wife Louise.
Keeley, who is co-founder of a conservative group called the Coalition
for Moral Order, becomes embroiled in a political scandal when his
co-founder and fellow Senator is found dead in the bed of an underage
black prostitute. Louise and Barbara convince Senator Keeley that a
visit to his daughter's fiancee's family would be the perfect way to
stave off bad press, and plan to travel to
South Beach as soon as
Barbara shares news of her father's plan to Val; to cover the
Goldmans' alternate lifestyle, she has told her parents that Armand is
straight and a cultural attaché to Greece. Armand dislikes the idea
of being forced into the closet, but agrees to play along, enlisting
the help of friends and club employees to redecorate the family's
apartment to more closely resemble a traditional household. Albert
initially wants to use his skills as a drag artist to play Val's
mother, but Val and Armand fear that the trick will not work, and
instead convince him to pose as Val's uncle. Armand contacts Katherine
and explains the situation; she agrees to the farce, promising to come
to the party and pretend to be his wife. Armand then tries to coach
Albert on how to be straight, but Albert's flamboyant nature makes the
task difficult. When Albert realizes his plan won't fool anyone, he
takes offense and locks himself in his room.
The Keeleys arrive at the Goldmans (who are calling themselves
"Coleman" for the evening to hide their
Jewish heritage) redecorated
apartment; they are greeted by Agador, who is passing himself off as a
Greek butler named "Spartacus" for the night. Unfortunately, Katherine
gets caught in traffic, and the Keeleys begin wondering where "Mrs.
Coleman" is. Suddenly, Albert enters, dressed and styled as a
conservative middle-aged woman. Armand, Val, and Barbara are nervous,
but Kevin and Louise are tricked by the disguise.
Despite the success of the evening, trouble begins when Senator
Keeley's chauffeur betrays him to two tabloid journalists who have
been hoping for a scoop on the Coalition story. While they research
The Birdcage, they also remove a note that Armand has left on the door
informing Katherine not to come upstairs. When she finally arrives,
she unknowingly reveals the deceptions. Though Armand and Albert
scramble to find a new cover story, Val instead confesses to the
scheme and identifies Albert as his true parent.
Senator Keeley is initially confused by the situation, but Louise both
informs him of the truth and scolds him for being more concerned with
his career than his family's happiness. He agrees to the marriage, but
discovers that the paparazzi are waiting outside to take his picture.
Albert then realizes that there is a way for the family to escape
without being recognized: he dresses Kevin and Louise in drag, and
they use the apartment's back entrance to sneak into The Birdcage,
with Armand introducing them as a part of the club's nightly act. They
all dance out of the nightclub door and reach safety, preventing a
disaster. Barbara and Val are married in an interfaith service, which
both families attend.
Robin Williams as Armand Goldman
Gene Hackman as Senator Kevin Keeley
Nathan Lane as Albert Goldman
Dianne Wiest as Louise Keeley
Dan Futterman as Val Goldman
Calista Flockhart as Barbara Keeley
Hank Azaria as Agador Spartacus
Christine Baranski as Katherine Archer
Tom McGowan as Harry Radman
Grant Heslov as
National Enquirer photographer
Kirby Mitchell as Keeley's chauffeur
Originally, Williams was going to portray Albert whereas Steve Martin
was going to portray Armand.
A number of songs written by
Stephen Sondheim were used in the film.
The song that Albert rehearses during the sequence with the
gum-chewing dancer is entitled "Little Dream" and was written
specifically for use in the film. Albert's first song as "Starina"
is "Can That Boy Foxtrot", cut from Sondheim's Follies. The song that
Armand and Katherine sing and dance to in her office, "Love Is in the
Air", had been intended as the opening number for the musical A Funny
Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1962. The song was cut from
the show and replaced with Comedy Tonight.
The film opened on March 8, 1996, and grossed $18,275,828 in its
opening weekend, topping the box office. It remained at #1 for the
next 3 weeks before being derailed by the openings of Primal Fear and
A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. By the end of its 14-week run, the
film had grossed $124,060,553 domestically and $61,200,000
internationally, eventually reaching a total of US$185,260,553
The film received positive reviews upon its release, and as of 2017,
the film holds a 79% approval rating on the review aggregation website
Rotten Tomatoes, based on 47 critic reviews. The site's critical
consensus reads: "
Mike Nichols wrangles agreeably amusing performances
Robin Williams and
Nathan Lane in this fun, if not quite
essential, remake of the French-Italian comedy La Cage aux Folles."
The review aggregator
Metacritic reported that the film received
"generally favorable" reviews, with a score of 72% based on 18
James Berardinelli wrote, "The film is so boisterously entertaining
that it's easy for the unsuspecting viewer not to realize that there's
a message here." Desson Thomson from
The Washington Post
The Washington Post described
the film as "A spirited remake of the French drag farce [that] has
everything in place, from eyeliner to one-liner." Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly called the film "Enchantingly witty".
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) praised the
film for "going beyond the stereotypes to see the character's depth
and humanity. The film celebrates differences and points out the
outrageousness of hiding those differences." The film was also
nominated for a
GLAAD Media Award.
Cross-dressing in film and television
La Cage aux Folles, the original 1973 French play
La Cage aux Folles, the 1983 American stage musical
List of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender-related films by
^ "The Birdcage". Powergrid.com. Archived from the original on
^ a b
The Birdcage at Box Office Mojo
^ Evans, Bradford (25 October 2012). "The Lost Roles of Steve Martin".
Splitsider. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
^ Kimmel, Bruce. "The Birdcage". Sondheim.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum ". Sondheim.com.
Retrieved May 10, 2012.
^ "Weekend Box Office: March 8-10, 1996 Weekend". Box Office Mojo.
Retrieved May 10, 2012.
The Birdcage (1996)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
The Birdcage reviews". Metacritic.
^ a b c Alexander Ryll (2014). "Essential Gay Themed Films To Watch,
The Birdcage". Gay Essential. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
^ Calley, John (March 5, 1996). "
GLAAD APPLAUDS 'THE BIRDCAGE'".
GLAAD. Retrieved January 20, 2007
^ "What to Watch: Thursday, September 1". GLAAD. August 1, 2011.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Birdcage.
The Birdcage on IMDb
The Birdcage at AllMovie
The Birdcage at Box Office Mojo
The Birdcage at Rotten Tomatoes
The Birdcage at Metacritic
La Cage aux Folles
1973 French play
Original film series
La Cage aux Folles (1978)
La Cage aux Folles II
La Cage aux Folles II (1980)
La Cage aux Folles 3: The Wedding (1985)
The Birdcage (1996)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
The Graduate (1967)
Carnal Knowledge (1971)
The Day of the Dolphin
The Day of the Dolphin (1973)
The Fortune (1975)
Gilda Live (1980)
Biloxi Blues (1988)
Working Girl (1988)
Postcards from the Edge (1990)
Regarding Henry (1991)
The Birdcage (1996)
Primary Colors (1998)
What Planet Are You From?
What Planet Are You From? (2000)
Angels in America (2003)
Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
Nichols and May
Mike Nichols: American Masters (2016 documentary)
A New Leaf (1971)
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Mikey and Nicky
Mikey and Nicky (1976)
Mike Nichols: American Masters (2016)
Nichols and May
The Birdcage (1996 screenplay)
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