Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Liberace Is a Reel Star Liberace; Behind the Candelabra

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Liberace Is a Reel Star Liberace; Behind the Candelabra

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Romney

STEVEN Soderbergh has revealed that the Hollywood studios wouldn't let him make his film about Liberace, Behind the Candelabra, because executives felt it was "too gay".

Too gay? Liberace? Who knew? Not the pianist's middle-American fans, apparently, even in the late '70s.

At the start of the film a young man named Scott (Matt Damon) goes with his friend Bob (Scott Bakula) to a Liberace concert.

The star, played by Michael Douglas, is first spotted as a distant blur of pearly radiance before we see him up close, his grin as dazzling as the piano's ivories.

Liberace is a mind-boggling turn, whether playing boogie-woogie at 200kmh or coyly flirting with an audience of besotted matrons.

They're lapping it up and apparently failing to see the big, besequinned, Schiaparelli-pink elephant in the room.

"They have no idea that he's gay," Bob marvels.

If there was ever any doubt about the man born Wladziu Valentino Liberace - any doubt left by the feathered capes, the diamante-encrusted pianos and the sugar-frosted onstage patter - then Behind the Candelabra pretty decisively clears it up.

Made as a TV film but opulently suited to the big screen, Behind the Candelabra is unequivocally gay. There are bristling moustaches and muscleman artwork, along with Damon bizarrely rejuvenated as a teenage hunk.

Damon plays Liberace's hapless lover Scott Thorson, on whose memoirs the film is based.

Soon after the show, "Lee", as his friends call the star, is welcoming Thorson into his lavish mansion and listening to tales of his disadvantaged background.

Before long Lee is employing Thorson as secretary and companion - and impressing the younger man with his insatiable appetites.

They are, of course, very Hollywood appetites.

Written by Richard LaGravenese, the film initially comes across as a high-camp farce. …

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