Frameline48: Mad About the Boy – The Noël Coward Story

Playwright, composer, leading man; Oscar nominee, Tony winner, Time Magazine cover-star. The dazzlingly talented Noël Coward did it all — even spying for the crown during World War II. Coward wrote peak British theater — the ghost story Blithe Spirit; the racy menage Design for Living; and the classic cinematic tearjerker Brief Encounter. As this lively documentary reveals, Coward was a master of self-invention. Raised in a working-class boarding house with no formal education after age 9, Coward turned himself into the ultimate upper-crust British sophisticate (cigarette holder, dressing gown, rolled Rs), dishing out wit that winked toward his homosexuality.  

With appearances by Dame Maggie Smith, Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Lucille Ball, Mad About the Boy reclaims Coward for queer history, narrated by Alan Cumming with Rupert Everett serving as Coward’s voice, and with Adam Lambert belting on the soundtrack. Home movies show Coward cavorting with handsome male lovers among the queer demimonde, while staying closeted publicly. Out of fashion during the Swinging Sixties, Coward remade himself again — as one of the first musical superstars with a must-see Las Vegas residency. A true survivor, Coward wrote his own last act: a hard-fought happy ending.

1h 30m
Barnaby Thompson
First Showing
June 20, 2024