Happy Birthday Rosalind Russell!

auntiemameThe thing about Auntie Mame is that one could argue Mame herself is a drag queen.

I’m not actually arguing that because post-modern film theory drives me up the wall (in college, one of my classmates claimed that in Rear Window, Jimmy Stewart doesn’t want to marry Grace Kelly because he’s in love with his agent), but I am saying that one could argue that.

The main crux of this argument is that whenever Mame drops the artifice she also drops her voice. Think about it. The moments when she speaks the truth are always when her voice is the lowest.

“You’re everything Beauregard said you were,” she says chirpily to her future mother-in-law. Then the basso profundo: “And quite a bit more.”

“Spitting distance? How vivid.”

And isn’t Mame everything a drag queen represents? A wild and wonderful woman who changes her style on a whim. A woman who finds happiness by flying the in the face conventionality. And someone who stays true to herself, no matter the pressure to conform.

Needless to say, Auntie Mame was a huge influence on me as a child.

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