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5 Films: The Food Edition

The look of love and lobster: Nick Arnstein (Omar Shariff) and Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand) fall in love as they wait for their lobster.










by Nancy Ford

How’s that I-gotta-lose-weight-in-2012 thing going for you?

Experts claim the majority of New Year’s resolution dieters may have already fallen off the resolution wagon as early as January 15. If you’re still hanging on to that commitment, even by the sheerest thread, here are five films that visually indulge your gastronomic senses, without having to take on all those pesky additional calories.

So toss that popcorn (the butter-free kind) into the microwave and get your bon appétit on!

The Rose  

Rock ‘n’ rollers like sandwiches. They like them almost as much as they like poor grammar. Mary Rose Foster (Bette Midler) likes to nibble on sandwiches backstage before her show amid her diva moments, and that’s what she and Huston Dyer (Frederick Forest) order to go in a 24-hour greasy spoon in the wee hours after her show. But that diner don’t serve hippies, doncha know? An ensuing brawl ends with a customer knocked out and drowning in a bowl of soup; we assume the soup is Redneck Noodle. Mark Rydell directs. 1979.

Gayest moment: Nope, it’s not the shampoo scene in which Rose gets all lathered up by her Ivy League groupie (Sandra McCabe). Is it when Rose joins multiple drag queens, including the iconic Claude Sacha, onstage at a gay bar? Naw. It comes as Rose laments to her audience: “Ain’t it just grand layin’ there late at night in your bed, waitin’ for your old man to show up? And when he finally does, long about 4 o’clock in the mornin’, with whiskey on his breath, and the smell of another woman on his person…. Oh honey, I can smell another woman at 500 paces. That’s a easy one to catch.”

The Long, Long Trailer  

Even on solid ground, the Queen of Physical Comedy, Lucille Ball, could find a way to make the preparation of a Caesar salad a slapstick endeavor. Put her in a moving trailer as she tries to tear that Romaine lettuce and crack those eggs, and she spins physical comedy gold. This feature-length film capitalized on the blinding success Ball and husband Desi Arnaz’s I Love Lucy phenomenon had been enjoying in its first two television seasons. In it, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo are newlyweds Tacy and Nicky Collini who drive cross-country in their brand-new 40-foot mobile home. Vincent Minnelli directs. 1953.

Gayest moment: Again, Vincente Minnelli directs, making the film one long, long gay moment. But if we have to get more specific, we hope that Tacy’s spinster Poor Cousin Grace (Connie Van) is unmarried because she’s secretly a lesbian, happily choosing to be man-less.

Bonus morsel: Look for an uncredited, lineless Tim Conway lurking in the background in the trailer’s party scene.

Animal House   

If anyone struggled with dieting (among other things), it was comic genius John Belushi. His proclivities toward excess are elevated to high art in this collegiate comedy’s cafeteria scene as it follows Blutto’s (Belushi) walk of gastronomic shame along Faber College’s cafeteria counter, inspiring legions of Jell-O inhalers for more than 30 years. 1978. John Landis directs.

Gayest moment: Guy with guitar (Stephen Bishop) singing: “I gave my love a cherry that had no stone. I gave my love a chicken that had no bone. I gave my love a story that had no end. I gave my….” Bluto (grabbing the guitar and smashing it against the wall): “Sorry.”

Annie Hall  

Some of us believe that the lobster, not the banana, is God’s Perfect Food. This concept is proven all the more true in the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful film of Woody Allen’s celebrated career. In it, Alvy Singer (Allen) battles a live lobster with a tennis racket as he and Annie (Diane Keaton) begin to fall in love. Despite its two main characters being inarguably heterosexual, the story of Alvy’s quest to find the perfect relationship but then analytically beat it to death is so lesbian. Woody Allen directs. 1977.

Gayest moment: Annie: “Oh, you see an analyst?” Alvy: “Yeah, just for fifteen years.” Annie: “Fifteen years?” Alvy: “Yeah, I’m gonna give him one more year, and then I’m goin’ to Lourdes.”

Funny Girl  

Barbra Streisand’s sole Oscar-winning performance, this musical based on the life of vaudevillian Fanny Brice serves up a veritable smorgasbord: grapes as they fall off Fanny’s shoulder, mugs of beer, filet de boeuf and sauce bordelaise, a bagel on a plateful of onion rolls, and—oh yes!—lobster on the Baltimore docks. Hello, gorgeous! William Wyler directs. 1968.

Gayest moment: Fanny, singing in New York Harbor: “Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter.”

Butter with lemon sauce, we hope.

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