The Gay Deceivers (1969)

A game I like to play with my friends is “Actually, You Do Know What This Is.” It’s where I show someone a the full context of a meme’s origin. For example, odds are you don’t know Sunstroke Project or Sergey Stepanov by name, but he’s the internet’s favorite Epic Sax Guy (the song is called “Run Away,” by the way, and it slaps). The reason I bring this up is because The Gay Deceivers is a completely forgettable movie except for the only decent actor giving an amazing line: “I may not know my flowers, but I know a BITCH when I see one!” Yup, this is that movie.

Danny and Elliot are two friends who decide the best way to avoid being drafted to Vietnam is to pretend to be a gay couple. What could go wrong? I mean, besides homophobic-laced shenanigans–those were a given. When the Army recruiter starts showing up just about everywhere, the two move to a gay neighborhood and get a place from Malcolm and his husband Craig, an actual gay couple. Through a series of miscommunications, lies, and sheer idiocy the duo lose familial support, their girlfriends, their jobs, and their reputations. When the truth comes out (ha), no one believes them and the film ends with the two going their separate ways. Well, actually it ends with a twist where the recruiters were actually gay, knew Danny and Elliot were lying, and didn’t want “that kind in the Army.” Ha ha ha ha ha, hilarious.

There’s a lot that bothered me the first time I saw this movie, but the thing that has taken residence in the back of my head is the seemingly outlandish question, “Is this an anti-draft dodging movie?” Sure, Danny and Elliot are pretty scummy people and deserve their fate, but they lost everything to this ruse. They repeat the argument that this was, and I quote, “better than getting your butt shot off in Vietnam,” but the last time it’s said it rings so hollow. I can’t find any evidence that the writers or director were gay themselves, so this just feels exploitative… unless it’s propaganda. I mean, then it’s really exploitative, but still. Odds are this was not intentionally military propaganda, but it sure feels that way to me.

The only saving grace in this movie is Malcolm, played by the late gay comedian Mr. Michael Greer. Supposedly upon seeing the script, he made changes to avoid it being a complete hate crime, even going so far to rewrite all his dialogue to sound less like a bunch of straight guys writing gay characters. Everyone else in this is a one note caricature. Danny is ruined by his hubris, Elliot is a frustrated womanizer, and the female characters are pretty boring if they’re even fleshed out enough to have a personality. Only real note is Bunny, a dim girl with a squeaky voice played by Louise Williams in her first IMDB credited role, and only because she would later voice Jayna of the Wonder Twins from Super Friends.

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