The Gay Deceivers
directed by Bruce Kessler
starring Kevin Coughlin, Larry Casey, and Jack Starrett
Dark Sky Films
With the Vietnam war raging, Danny (Kevin Coughlin) and Elliot (Larry Casey) hit upon a sure-fire way to elude the draft board. Play gay. It seems a lot easier than moving to Canada. Danny is about to attend law school (one would think that a student deferment would be easier and less time-consuming than a full-time gay act) and Elliot is embarking on a lifetime of seducing women as a lifeguard (no deferments for that) so Vietnam would really cramp their plans. Complications escalate as a draft board Colonel (Jack Starrett) doesn't buy their story, so the two friends have to live as a gay couple full-time while fending off the advances of their landlord Malcolm (Michael Greer) and keeping one step ahead of the ever-present Colonel.
The Gay Deceivers is a somewhat pleasant little time-waster, on par with a racier Three's Company episode. While in the beginning the main source of humor seems to be just that gay people exist, toward the end the friends get a small taste of homophobia and prejudice, resulting in lost jobs and girlfriends. Also, I'm pretty sure one of the friends ends up just a little bit curious.
Of course, you have to overlook things like the accepted facts that gay men decorate only in pink and scream "fabulous" at the drop of a hat and can be knocked out with one punch. Or the fact that a Colonel in the middle of a war doesn't have anything better to do than creep around apartment complexes making sure that two guys are really gay. Or that gay marriage was around and somewhat accepted in 1968. Making the most of his characterization as a screaming queen, Michael Greer invigorates the movie each time he steps into the frame. While it is essentially a one-note character, Greer brings a flair to the role, even getting the funniest line in the movie ("Well, I may not know flowers but I know a bitch when I see one," delivered after one of Elliot's girlfriends walks through his garden).
While some might see the entire film as homophobic (and I probably wouldn't take too much convincing), it does at least attempt to portray some of the struggles gay men faced as the country began to take more notice of minority populations. And hey, it's gotta be better than I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.