Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra ~ I remember Liberace from my childhood. I remember him from the 1966 "Batman" TV show (in syndication, I'm not that old), where his appearance as villainous twin brothers equaled the series' highest rated episodes. Such was the power of Liberace. He was not only a fabulous piano player, and a faaah-bulous showman, he was a huge star, and a serious draw when it came to stage and screen. When Liberace was on TV, for various reasons, you had to see it, and his stage show, whether in Vegas, New York, or LA, it was always a sensation.

While it wasn't talked about back then, I think everyone knew Liberace was gay, it was oddly accepted he was different in that way. Liberace was wholesome entertainment. When I heard HBO was making a movie about him, I feared the worst. Especially after recent hack jobs on Phil Spector and Alfred Hitchcock. HBO knows how to make quality television series, but the folks who make their movies are out of control.

When I heard it would be about Liberace and his last lover, Scott Thorson, I knew it would be another smear piece. Thorson's book of the same name was a memoir in much the same vein as Mommy Dearest.

Then I heard about the casting, and I was intrigued. Michael Douglas as Liberace, and Matt Damon as Scott Thorson. Wow. Boggles the mind, doesn't it? Here's the thing, they pull it off, they pull it off mind bogglingly well. When I see a flick with a big name star, if I can stop calling them by name, and believe they are the character, that's impressive to me. For instance, Meryl Streep and Mel Gibson are always Meryl and Mel to me, but here, this was Liberace and Thorson. The actors' performances are stunning.

True or not, those performances are scarred by the outrageous and flamboyant story. It may have happened that way, and they may have worn those clothes, but the absurdity of the situations take away from the quality of Douglas and Damon.

It also doesn't help that the rest of the cast is filled out by comedians and actors doing their crazy best. Rob Lowe, Dan Ackroyd, Scott Bakula, and Debbie Reynolds, among others, are at their insane peak, equal to Douglas and Damon.

Should you watch it? Definitely. Behind the Candelabra is both time capsule and freakshow, and most importantly a manic showcase for the actors involved, and nowhere near the usual trainwreck we have gotten recently from HBO Films.

1 comment:

  1. Glad I found your blog. I've been wanting to comment on this. Saw the movie, even with little sound, I could tell they were acting well. It wasn't as bad in the love scenes as I thought it would be and that was a good thing. It was tolerable. soderber or what's his name handled the brutalness very well and Douglas played with a certain slyness- What a good choice. Although the real liberace seemed so cute and shy. I can imagine he had that slyness to get what he wanted. I can picture that cute smile and grin turning into slyness that the real scott described. I do agree with another poster that indeed matt damon should have won the award. He played the sweetie that scott was and captured that sweetness and naivite to perfection. You can look at the pictures and see scott was a sweetie. matt portrayed well because in his mind scott treasured the relationship and matt portrayed well. One thing about scott which was admirable is he confronted these issues in public. You cannot hide behind the candelabra but so long. It was the 80's and the truth was going to come out for any celebrity. I admire the real scott for this. He was brave. Yet, dogged out by so many people. Neither one was particularly right, But they both for some reason are etched in my heart. Scott certainly deserved every dime he asked for.