Archive: The Birdcage (1966)

Adapted from the Mike Nichols’ Broadway production, a cabaret owner (Robin Williams) and his drag queen (Nathan Lane) partner are in a committed relationship, yet agree to put up a false straight front so their son can introduce them to his fiancée’s moralistic parents.

The Birdcage: Yes, We Can Learn from Our Films

Many have mourned the loss of Robin Williams and his comic genius.[1] In revisiting The Birdcage (and his other films), we can consider aspects of his work that may have changed us all without realizing it.

What makes the film interesting is that (Robin Williams) must play against type, toning down his manic persona in the face of Lane’s hilarious over-the-top turn.
—Chuck Koplinski, The News-Gazette

You do an eclectic celebration of the dance! You do Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! You do Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham! Or, Twyla, Twyla, Twyla! Or, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd! Or, Madonna, Madonna, Madonna! . . . but, you keep it all inside.
—Armand, The Birdcage

Carol Burnett charicature
Carol Burnett caricature

A comedian has been described as a person who seeks to entertain audiences, primarily by making them laugh. Filmmakers employ comedy in the same way. How do they do this?

We learned from our series on comedy that they do this in a number of ways — using social satire, slapstick, etc. Might they do this also as a way to dispel prejudice against certain groups or against certain characteristics?

Alternatively, might screenwriters focus so totally on what to them seems funny that the result is irresponsibly mean? Continue reading The Birdcage: Yes, We Can Learn from Our Films