Norman…Is That You? (1976)

GEORGE SCHLATTER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5.  USA, 1976.  .  Screenplay by , , George Schlatter, based on the play by Ron Clark, Sam Bobrick.  Cinematography by .  Produced by George Schlatter.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Podcast:  Bad Gay Movies.  

Tamara Dobson and Redd Foxx in Norman Is That You.

 leaves Tucson and shows up at his son’s Los Angeles apartment unannounced, shocked by what he finds: a man in his boy’s bed!  Grappling with the news that his son is gay, Foxx goes on a soul search that includes buying a stack of books from a local bookstore and hiring a prostitute () to put his son on the right path.  He also has to deal with the reason he showed up in the first place, that his wife (a divine ) has left him for his brother, while son  takes comfort in the arms of his best friend  for what I assume is a challenge to his identity but which is never actually addressed.  This lightweight adaptation of the Broadway play has a sitcom television look and feel, right down to the no-fourth-wall set; Foxx is terrific and delivers his funniest lines with finesse, but the multi-camera filming (done to save money) looks subpar and the script, in trying to be sensitive to all viewpoints, is mediocre and lacks dramatic power.  As is often the case with films that pretend to have gay characters at their centre (Happy Birthday Gemini comes to mind), it’s actually about straight people dealing with their issues of tolerance while gay people sit in the background, rarely getting to explore their own fears and desires (like the fact that Warren’s relationship with  hits a crisis that is also not really dealt with).

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