Sing this to the tune of The Brady Bunch!
Here’s the story
of two lovely lads,
Who were trying to avoid the Army draft
That they were lovers
Most viewers had to laugh
One was from a rich
and snotty family
Education was the plan he always had
Was an airline hostess
And he lived with Mom and Dad
The other boy
Worked for a living
A lifeguard is the job he did by trade
The women and
Girls around the pool
Were how his bills got paid
Now they live
Together as a married couple
Their landlord is a kind and caring queen
Now they have to
Watch out for Army spies
With girls they can’t be seen
I had to get you in the mood for this film by starting the post with the way The Gay Deceivers made me feel. It was like watching an extra long episode of The Brady Bunch with a homosexual as a main character. Oh wait…every episode of The Brady Bunch had a homosexual as a main character. Let me start again. The sets, colors and characters come straight from a sixties sitcom. It was almost like it was directed by William Asher famed for his direction of Bewitched. In fact it was like watching an extra long episode of Bewitched with a homosexual as a main character. Oh wait…busted again.
Ok. The Gay Deceivers directed by Bruce Kessler is one film from its era that, while containing stereotypes, still had very positive portrayals of gay men. In fact it is the role of the landlord, Malcolm, that Michael Greer portrayed, who is really one of the only positive characters in the film.
The tale begins when rich boy Daniel (Kevin Coughlin) and his friend the lifeguard, Elliot (Larry Casey), who he met at his parents’ country club decide they can avoid a trip to Vietnam by posing as homosexual lovers. During their meeting with Colonel Dixon (Jack Starrett) they try to convince him that even though they may be gay, they want to do their patriotic duty by enlisting.
After some testing to determine if they are gay, they are told that the Army doesn’t want them, but if it is determined they lied, they will re-open the files. Daniel doesn’t tell his parents or girlfriend Karen (Brooke Bundy)
and Elliot goes on seducing the women of the county club. For money, favors, and fringes, Elliot has a stable of women as the lifeguard lothario.
One of the ladies happens to be a friend of Daniel’s mother. Unknown to Daniel, Mrs. Conway (Jeanne Baird) pays Elliot’s rent.
Convinced they dodged a bullet, they go back to Elliot’s apartment to celebrate with a couple of girls, Elliot’s girlfriend and a hooker for Daniel. On his way in, Daniel bumps into a guy and later realizes it was the colonel from the Army. The guys feel the only way they can avoid the draft now would be to move in together and pose as lovers. After a tour of an available apartment, they decide to take it and move in.
Malcolm, their new landlord, welcomes them to the place and they convince him they are lovers.
Their first night passes with the agreement that they need to avoid anything that might give them away. Malcolm comes to borrow eggs and realizes that the newlyweds have not yet learned to cook, so he whips them up a breakfast in his extravagant style.
Daniel’s parents (Richard Webb and Eloise Hardt) arrive to see the new place. Mrs. Devlin is oblivious to the style of the apartment, but Mr. Devlin is a little suspicious.
Time passes and Malcolm and his husband (Sebastian Brook) come bearing gifts and during the visit Daniel gets nervous when his sister and Elliot’s girlfriend stop by. Daniel’s sister begins suspecting something is going on.
Mrs. Conway finds Elliot and tries to get in an afternoon quickie. Daniel discovers the couple and realizes what Elliot had been doing.
When Mrs. Conway leaves she accidentally steps in Malcolm’s favorite flower bed that contained what he thought were peonies. When he yells for her to get out of his peonies, she screams that they’re not peonies, but marigolds. One of the best lines that Malcolm says at this point is, “I may not know my flowers, but I know a BITCH when I see one!”
Meanwhile, Daniel’s father, thanks to some off-hand remarks from Daniel’s sister Leslie (Jo Ann Harris), becomes convinced that Elliot is a homosexual and feels that he will molest the boys around the pool, so he has him fired.
Elliot is getting upset because he has lost his job and Daniel has told him that he can’t have women in the apartment. Elliot decides to go out and finds a gay bar in the neighborhood, so he goes in where he lets a guy buy him a drink.
Daniel, meanwhile, still goes out to visit his girlfriend when she’s back from a flight. Karen convinces Daniel to take her back to his apartment, because she’s convinced there is another woman. Relieved that no other woman is in his life, Karen and Daniel go out and pass the same gay bar. Karen, excited to see one, convinces Daniel to go in.
While looking around, they find Elliot at the bar. Elliot punches the guy that bought him drinks and goes outside with Daniel and Karen. Outside Elliot, still upset with Daniel and a little drunk, plays up their relationship as real. Karen breaks down and leaves. All are completely unaware of the Army colonel observing the event in the bar.
Daniel’s sister, Leslie, decides to test Elliot by offering herself to him. Not one to turn down an offer, they head back to the apartment. En route, they pass an Army officer, which makes Elliot nervous and unable to perform. Leslie is now convinced her brother and Elliot are lovers.
Malcolm invites the boys to a fancy dress party. Daniel is not in a party mood, because he misses Karen. Elliot decides he’s going to go and wears a cape with a surprise underneath.
Others at the party include the guy who bought Elliot drinks at The Lush Life, neighbors, and a mysterious hooded figure.
Elliot notices a beautiful girl across the room and takes her back to a bedroom for a little you-know-what. Of course, we know what’s going to happen next. “You’re a man!”
The witness to this is the hooded figure that turns out to be the colonel.
Meanwhile, Karen visits Daniel to say good-bye. Daniel tries to convince her that he’s straight, but it’s too late. Karen leaves him.
Daniel goes to see his father to explain what was really going on, but his father is furious that his son would jeopardize his future, by having this on his record. So, the boys go back to the Army office to confess, but Daniel is seemingly unable to convince the colonel. The boys leave to start their new separate lives. Elliot has heard that there are some rich women in Miami, while Daniel heads off for school.
BIG SPOILER AHEAD!
Here’s the twist that is so poignant in today’s era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the colonel knew they were straight. It seems he doesn’t want their kind in this man’s army.
So there you have it. Every heterosexual in the movie has an unhappy ending. Daniel loses the girl, the parents are unhappy, Elliot has lost his job and is relocating, Mrs. Conway now has no one to keep her happy, and Leslie, well she was never really happy to begin with.
Who had the happy ending? The gay couples!!!!
If you are a gay fan of sixties sitcoms, then I would highly recommend this film. If you’re not, see this film anyway, because it is just a fun little movie.
I wish they could have adapted it for TV and made it into a sitcom with the same situations that Jack Tripper ran into on Three’s Company later. Too bad, tolerance levels weren’t there yet. Of course, they'd have to bring back Larry Casey as the hunky lifeguard and Michael Greer as landlord Malcolm.