Rue McClanahan found herself amid greatness on The Golden Girls, but she was working before then and nabbed a movie role. McClanahan joined Fannie Flagg and Candy Darling in the 1971 movie Some of My Best Friends Are… It centered around three women going to a gay bar and talking about their lives.
Just having a movie that used a gay bar as the setting at that time was considered subversive. This film brings to light how the queer community, along with their friends, celebrated Christmas Eve. Some of My Best Friends Are… also brings to light how good friends can help people have a good time.
Another theme of this film resonates with people living their lives and respecting their sexual orientation. One person who makes sure everyone is comfortable is the bar owner. She does her best to let everyone know that they are welcome.
As for her role, Rue McClanahan plays an attractive woman named Lita Joyce who gets hit on a lot by men. Yet she prefers to hang around gay men at the bar. There also is talk of torrid love affairs and secrets among the women. Their friends also get involved in the chit-chat, reflecting a real-life vibe in the movie.
The movie’s trailer is quite vague when it comes to blatantly saying what the movie is about. They probably were taking into account the sensitivities of moviegoers at the time. Still, the movie does stand out as a timestamp of a different time and era.
Rue McClanahan Went On To Star In ‘Maude’
McClanahan was not a household name at this time, but that was all about to change. She would find herself as part of the hit TV sitcom Maude, which starred Beatrice Arthur. McClanahan played Vivian Harmon, the wife of conservative-leaning Dr. Arhthur Harmon, played by Conrad Bain. Bain, after finishing up with Maude, found himself playing opposite Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges on Diff’rent Strokes.
From Maude, McClanahan went on to play Fran Crowley on Mama’s Family. She then landed on The Golden Girls as Blanche Devereaux.
A couple of other interesting cast members to note from this movie include Gary Sandy and Gil Gerard. Sandy earned some notoriety from being a part of the cast of WKRP in Cincinnati. Gerard did a turn as space hero Buck Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Additionally, look for Dick O’Neill of Cagney & Lacey fame to make an appearance as well.
This movie provided one way to help break the taboo cycle around the gay and lesbian lifestyle. Some of My Best Friends Are… might have been looked upon as scandalous in some people’s minds. Making a movie like this in 1971 was taking a big risk. But the producers and cast forged ahead to get the movie done.
It has an 83 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so it has that going on for the movie.
People who see this film today can look at it from a historical perspective. They can judge it either from a moral standpoint or not. Still, having a film shot inside a gay bar in 1970s Manhattan is pretty amazing.
Of course, having a Christmas theme to it adds a little celebratory tone to what’s happening there. And knowing the trajectory of Rue McClanahan’s career from this movie forward is worth taking note of as well. She and others would gain some name notoriety just a few years after the movie came out.
Some of My Best Friends Are… is a gem of a picture, one that people who want to can see it even today.
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