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What a drag: Men who dress like women in movies


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I watched HIGH TIME this morning, recorded from a recent broadcast on FMC. I knew nothing about it, except that it starred Bing Crosby and Fabian...oh, and that it took place on a college campus. I thought it was a cute movie and dare I say, I could see it being remade with Steve Martin (who has become the remake king in recent years).

 

But there's a scene where Bing dresses up in drag as part of his frat initiation. It's rather funny, especially when he has to dance with other guys at a party.

 

This caused me to think about the double-standard of gender bending/cross-dressing in movies. If this were a female lead, like say a Lucille Ball, would it be as funny to see her looking like a man and dancing with other women? In SOME LIKE IT HOT, what if it were Marilyn that was outfitted as a member of the opposite sex? It wouldn't have the same comic kick, would it?

 

Why does it seem to be hilarious when a guy dresses like a chick in movies? And do scenes like this make an otherwise dull movie better?

 

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Well in her TV show Lucy did play a man (at least once that I can remember) and of course she was very funny doing so. But overall it is men that dress in drag or wear women's close like Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby.

 

With regards to Some Like It Hot, I don't like this movie much since the joke is at the center of the entire movie. In other words it got old very quick with me. So while it can be funny for a short time (i.e. one can milk laughs from the situation), it is best if keep brief.

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Yes, Lucille Ball did dress in drag in a memorable episode of I Love Lucy. But she was very visibly pregnant in that episode, thus making sure the audience saw her feminine side.

 

Later, there was an episode of The Lucy Show (her second sitcom) where she conducts an orchestra, dressed like Charlie Chaplin. And I think she does it again in another episode with guest star Mickey Rooney, where they do a little show within the show, directly referencing Chaplin. But she was probably the only one doing this, and it was on television, not on movie screens.

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I think the best movie made about the subject is "Tootsie" (1982) starring Dustin Hoffman. It has a great plot in which in this case he doesn't dress up like a woman because he likes to but he is so desperate for work, he will try anything for employment. Who can forget get that memorable staircase ending. I love scenes like that. Poor Terri Garr must have thought at that very moment what a dog she must be, lol.

 

One thing I can say for sure, the movie itself is not a *drag.*

 

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jamesjazzguitar wrote of *Some Like it Hot*:

 

"...while it can be funny for a short time (i.e. one can milk laughs from the situation), it is best if keep brief. " Perhaps it's best if they keep to panties rather than briefs. Or maybe should be the other way around. Boxers. Knickers. Briefs. I have no brief with that.

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> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> I completely forgot about VICTOR/VICTORIA. Thanks for mentioning that one. I would love to see it on TCM.

You might also want to check out *La Cage Aux Folles*, and *Priscilla, Queen of the Desert*, just to name a couple. To me, most films where straight guys dress up like women, for comedy, are just unbelievable and stupid. That includes *Some Like It Hot*, but not *Tootsie*, which I think works very well. But, films with roles that are meant to be genuine transvestites are often believable, and sometimes quite good.

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"A woman can put on a flannel shirt, blue jeans, and cowboy boots and go anywhere without anyone saying a thing, but if a man, just once, runs to the store wearing his blue chiffon, they talk about him forever."

 

This makes man-dressing-as-woman more open to comedy than woman-dressing-as-man.

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Another very good film about a transsexual (that is, if I'm using the correct word, someone who does not just want to pose or dress as someone of the opposite gendre, but who actually wants to be the other sex, surgery and all) is *TransAmerica*, with Felicity Hoffman. Came out 3 or 4 years ago, I believe. I thought it was very good. I did not have a problem with a woman playing the part of the man who wants the sex change -she was completely convincing.

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The one thing Hollywood has not attempted is making a *serious* movie about women who passed them off as men to be soldiers during the Civil War. I saw a very nice documentary on the History Channel and I think if serious effort is put into such a project, it will make a great movie.

 

The fact is that the women who succeeded in becoming soldiers, did so while fooling everyone and required no type of surgery or multilations to themselves.

 

woman_soldier.jpg

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> {quote:title=SansFin wrote:}{quote}

> "A woman can put on a flannel shirt, blue jeans, and cowboy boots and go anywhere without anyone saying a thing, but if a man, just once, runs to the store wearing his blue chiffon, they talk about him forever."

>

> This makes man-dressing-as-woman more open to comedy than woman-dressing-as-man.

 

That is exactly what I think. There seem to be stricter codes regarding masculinity in western society. And somehow when a character on screen violates that code, we find him to be hysterically funny or strangely perverse (or maybe both).

 

When a woman dresses like a man, we tend to think she's doing it to gain power. But when it's the other way around, and a man comes across more effeminate, we see it as a sign of weakness and a loss of power, and we laugh at it. That was part of the inner-conflict the Robin Williams character faced when trying to conceal his alter ego from ex-wife Sally Field in MRS. DOUBTFIRE.

 

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I wanted to keep this photo seperate from my last post. I think its from a long forgot about (don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing) stage play, "The Little Stranger". Seeing stuff like this can mess with ones head. Wonder what does he sleep with, lol!

 

6a00d83451bdba69e20120a787ff46970b-450wi

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> {quote:title=Marysara wrote:}{quote}

> If you're talking abut women what about the movies First A Girl and Victor/Victoria.

>

I recently ran the 1933 German original version starring Renate Muller for some friends. Even without English subtitles we found it enjoyable and relatively easy to follow.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024736/combined

 

But being a MAJOR Jessie Matthews fan, her version will always be my favorite.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026361/combined

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> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> I like TOOTSIE, too.

>

> I guess what makes it work is the premise and the lead actor. For example, we may accept Johnny Depp doing it. But I don't think we'd buy Tom Cruise playing this kind of role.

 

 

Johnny Depp appears to be playing a woman in every role he does.

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I'm sure there are a lot of Johnny D fans. I selected him as an example, because I think he has a more whimsical quality than say a Tom Cruise or Clint Eastwood.

 

But you never know, if Tom Cruise's career tanks and he's desperate for a hit, he might team up with the producers of those AIRPLANE and NAKED GUN movies and do a scene in drag. Stranger things have happened in Hollywood.

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This bit of text appeared at the beginning of Wheeler & Woolsey's COCKEYED CAVALIERS on TCM today. It made me think of this thread:

 

________________________

In days of old

When men were bold

And ladies wore the braces

Twas rare to see

Femininity

For men wore all the laces!

_________________________

 

2527034950_a27d91f77f_o.jpg

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Who remembers the 1986 TV movie starring Vanessa Redgrave as a tennis player/physician Richard Radley that has a sex change and lives as a woman tennis player Renee Richards until she is "outted". Good film, and Redgrave pulls it off very good.

 

I know the topic is men who dressed like women but in the film, Vanessa is playing a man who then has a sex change to become a woman. It's odd but she pulls it off and is very convincing.

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Funny to see this topic because I JUST watched *THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG RIDES AGAIN*. By far the funniest thing about the movie is seeing Tim Conway and Don Knotts wear those hilarious saloon girl dresses, complete with stockings, wigs, and eye liner. Awesome!

 

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Otherwise I can think of Bob Hope dressed as his own aunt in *THE ROAD TO MOROCCO* and when the boys disguised themselves as **** dancers in *ON THE TOWN*. Plus Red Skelton looked hilarious in a tutu in *BATHING BEAUTY*.

 

estherwilliams-04.jpg

 

And don't forget *THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE* when James Fox wore Julie Andrews dress as a disguise.

 

Drag.jpg

 

Edited by: LonesomePolecat on Aug 30, 2010 5:25 PM

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