• Gay Deceivers, The



    Released by: Dark Sky Films

    Released on: November 20, 2007.
    Director: Bruce Kessler
    Cast: Kevin Coughlin, Larry Casey, Jack Starrett, Michael Greer, Brooke Bundy, Jo Ann Harris
    Year: 1969
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    The Movie:

    With the Vietnam war in full swing, the draft is set in effect. Those wishing to avoid going into the service can either flee the country, fake a medical condition, or pretend to be homosexuals. It’s this last idea that appeals most to Danny Devlin (Kevin Coughlin) and Elliott Crane (Larry Casey), a pair of straight dudes who decide to appear to the draft board together, as a couple. The only problem is that once they convince the army that they are gay they have to keep up the image because the army recruiters are keeping an eye on them.

    In order to keep up the ruse, the pair move into a condo complex in Los Angeles inhabited by gay men and they decorate their pad with statues of naked men. The man in charge of the complex, Malcolm (Michael Greer), takes a liking to them and tries to get the boys to come out to a few parties in the area but soon Danny and Elliott are running into problems. Danny’s girlfriend comes to believe he really is gay while Elliott is having problems with his libido – if he starts chasing girls around, they’re going to be found out. Will Elliot and Danny be able to keep everyone fooled without ruining their lives or will they be found out and shipped off to war?


    The Gay Decievers is pretty harmless stuff even if it does portray a lot of the gay men in the film as stereotypical queens. The comedy holds up reasonably well decades after it was made though much of the politics attached to the project have softened considerably since. The performances from Casey and Coughlin are decent enough though Michael Greer is the one that really steals the show with his flamboyant style and knack for physical comedy.


    The film is well paced and while there are a couple of more serious moments towards the end of the film, at least they further the plot and so they’re there for a perfectly legitimate reason. The film’s message gets a little muddy – we’re not sure if we’re being told we should accept gays or not, there’s really no solid stance on it but if anything the film does lean a little bit to the left in that for as often as we’re bombarded with a goofy stereotype to laugh at, we also see the two leads having to deal with the complications of being gay in the society of the late sixties. The film hardly does anything to further the gay movement, but then again, it doesn’t necessarily need to – it’s a comedy and should be taken as such, rather than as a political statement.


    Director Bruce Kessler would go on to be better known for his television work rather than his cinematic output. Having worked on shows like The A-Team, Knight Rider, T.J. Hooker, The Fall Guy, C.H.i.P.S., Baywatch and the late Lee Van Cleef vehicle, The Master he has done and quite well for himself on the small screen.


    Vide/Audio/Extras:

    The anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen transfer presents the film in its original aspect ratio. While there is some mild print damage and a fair bit of grain present throughout, the picture quality is pretty decent overall. There are a few scenes that are soft but otherwise detail level is good and color reproduction looks pretty accurate. There are no problems to report with mpeg compression artifacts and only a slight trace of edge enhancement is noticeable.

    The Dolby Digital Mono English language track on the disc is fine. Dialogue stays clean and clear and the quirky score comes through without any issues. There’s a slight bit of background hiss that pops into the picture once in a while but it’s really minor and if you’re not looking for it you’re probably not going to notice it. Optional subtitles are available in English only.


    Aside from animated menus and chapter stops, the only extra feature on the disc is thankfully quite a good one. A twenty-minute interview with director Bruce Kessler allows the director to explain how he came on board the project, what it was like working with a few of the notable stars in the film and what kind of reaction he ran into with the ratings board once they submitted the picture for theatrical distribution. He defends the picture explaining why it was never meant to be homophobic and how it was really meant to be playful and funny – for the most part, he succeeded. Kessler comes across as a pretty sincere and likeable guy and he tells some good stories here, particularly when he covers changes that were made to the story and how they set out to cover ground that had never really been covered in Hollywood before. Red Shirt Productions has done a fine job of editing the piece and splicing in pertinant parts from the film.

    The Final Word:

    While time has dulled the impact that the film may have had at one point, The Gay Deceivers is still a playful and genuinely funny comedy made all the more amusing by the unintentional humor provided by the film’s campier elements. Dark Sky’s DVD looks and sounds good enough and the interview with Kessler proves to be interesting and enlightening.