Fab the Plumage (and Fromage): Behind the Candelabra


Let’s not kid ourselves: Matt Damon is great and Michael Douglas is a marvel, but the breakout star of this movie is Rob Lowe’s FACE OF INSANITY. It is everything it’s been advertised to be, and more.

It’s kind of hard to properly fug-the-fromage of an actual good movie, so this is more a buffet of costumes, with some light plot sprinkled in where I couldn’t resist. It won’t ruin the movie for you because so much of it comes alive with sound and motion in ways that it just won’t in stills (like Matt Damon’s Disco Balls — you’ll know what I mean when you see them — and everything about Douglas’s characterization, down to the tiniest hand gestures). 

Apologies for the number of slides; to get this done in a timely fashion, I had to do a slideshow instead of inserting each individual photo into one long post, because of Boring WordPress Reasons. If you can’t digest it in one sitting, you can use the photo-scroller at the bottom of each slide to jump to where you were — or bookmark where you left it. Think of it as prolonging the life of your scrolling finger.

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Comments (47):

  1. Jill

    There is never such a thing as too many slides. Looking forward to this one!

  2. Miranda

    I snorted with laughter through this entire slideshow. Great stuff! I don’t have HBO, so I am unable to see this, which makes me very sad.

  3. nicole

    oh guys – the scene in bed where the eyes won’t close from the surgery. treasure!

    • Heather

      I ended up cutting that slide at the last minute, in a desperate attempt to get under sixty.

  4. bookworm1973

    So, I just read the first slide and had to come back and plug Josh Fruhlinger’s FB page: “What if every movie and TV show with Scott Bakula in it is secretly an episode of Quantum Leap?”

  5. fritanga

    Hah – I thought: “Gordon Gecko is giving Carol from 30 Rock the business!” And I kept calling Damon “Mark Wahlberg” throughout the whole thing. The conflation, it was bad.

    Seconding the majesty that was Jackson’s Face Acting, though. Who knew little Danny had it in him?

    • Heather

      I can’t tell Matt Damon and Marky Mark apart either.

      This movie looks FABULOUS. Can’t wait to see it.

    • aunttora

      He’s going to make it a Boxing Day the Prime Minister will never forget!

  6. Ida

    Love, love, love this. I hate living in the wrong country. It seems impossible to get a viewing date for this marvel here. *sulks*

  7. Danna

    Brava!! I DVRd it and now can’t wait to watch it. Does anyone else think that on slide 21 in the upper left pic Rob Lowe looks creepily like Michael Jackson? Hubbie and I went to the Liberace museum in Vegas several years ago, before it shut down and it was just as craptastic as you could imagine.

    • Sandra

      At first I thought Michael Jackson, but after further review, I amended it to ‘Michael Jacskon’s Secret Love Child with John Travolta”.

  8. Linda

    Geesus Heather I’m only on Slide # 7 and you’ve got me LMAO. Agador Spartacus!!

    Did anyone else get a little creeped out by this? Not the movie, but the Liberace/Scott story. Holy banana sling!!

    Back to the slide show….

  9. Jane

    Nicole I know! How about the first morning that Scott woke up in Lee’s bed and found Lee staring at him. Scary! (btw I love Liberace, just sayin…)

    • Heather

      I cut THAT slide, too, and am still a little mad at myself. When I was editing them down I was still assuming I’d JUST stick to clothes, and then as I was writing I was like, “Shit, I should have kept that.” But even 52 slides felt like crazy talk so I didn’t put it back in.

    • Trace

      That made me think “Well now we know what CZJ has to go through every morning”…

  10. Lola

    Did anyone notice that Cheyenne Jackson’s character did a sulky walk past a doorway in Liberace’s house during Scott’s first visit, and that later in the movie Scott does did the exact same sulky walk past the same doorway, it was awesome!
    Loved all the costumes, but Matt Damon’s plastic surgery face seemed to change in every scene, and Liberace’s face was all over the place, too.

    • Linda

      I noticed Matt’s face changing too. By the end at the funeral he was back to Matt Damon.

      • Katty McNiley Ripley

        While I VERY MUCH enjoyed the movie (I predict that they will gather quite the awards come award season) I too found that distracting, I thought the makeup was troubling all over the movie… I mean, when Liberace died Scott was still in his 20′s but Damon was is normal self, looking like a 40′s insurance salesman. Both Liberace’s and Damon’s faces keept changing after surgery to their “old” selfs or something totally different. The airbrushing abs in the “DiscoBalls” scene was terrible, looking like something from a Marriah Carey music video.

        I just bought Matt Damon as a teenager in the first couple of scenes and mostly because of his acting…sorry.

  11. TaraMisu

    OMG the snoring/eyes open scene!! :D :D :D

    Great recap, I thought this movie was well done and an excellent job by all of the cast. But Rob Lowe NEEDS an Emmy or something because we kept rewinding (is that what you do on a dvr??) and marveling at his plastic face! Bravo!

  12. LT1

    Oh, how I wish I had HBO right now. . .

    I loved that super tacky Liberace museum–especially the part where you walked across the strip mall parking lot to get to the second part of the museum.

    • azqueenie

      I so regret never making it to the Liberace museum before it closed. It must have been a hoot…especially if you had a few cocktails first!

  13. Anna K

    Perfection. Can’t wait to see the real thing in action!

  14. wildviolette

    This is GENIUS!! The movie was excellent, but I think I like Heather’s coverage even more.

  15. ceecee

    I’m glad you identified all the actors because no one looks like themselves in this movie. Scott Bakula looks like Sonny Bono, back from the dead.

  16. Neil

    ‘romancing the stoner’………pure genius. Why I love this site so much.

  17. Petrova Fossil

    Rob Lowe is wearing Sabrina Duncan’s pantsuit and hair. http://www.tvland.com/shows/charlies-angels/bios/kate-jackson

  18. Eirwen

    I hope us UK Candelabra fanciers can get this feast on dvd! Thanks for the fabulous recap.

  19. Joan

    OMG – THANK you for the recap! I watched this last night and I say Emmy’s all around – Michael Douglas, Matt Damon and Rob Lowe for his Michael Jackson-esque facial area. I did not know that Scott was supposedly that young when they first met. Yes, the scene where Lee can’t close his eyes when he is sleeping was amazing – that happened to Kenny Rogers too – I wonder if Rob Lowe was his surgeon?

    I read an interview with Debbie Reynolds and she knew the mother quite well. It sounded like Debbie and Liberace used to get sequined up to the nines and hit the town.

    I think I have to watch this again.

  20. JillC

    I enjoyed the movie though I agree that the ages and faces were all over the place and very confusing. Michael Douglas sounded pretty much like a mincing Michael Douglas throughout.

    My only regret is that you didn’t do a split screen with Rob Lowe and latter-day Michael Jackson, because that’s all I could think of every time Rob was on-screen!

  21. Lori

    Dear FiOS, thank you for giving me a free month of HBO. I have the DVR set to pick this up next time it airs!

    Also, you know who would have been great in Damon’s role? Randy Harrison.

  22. Melinda

    Thank you, Heather. I don’t have HBO, so this was a hug wrapped in glitter wrapped in sequins. I grew up in Las Vegas andI played the piano. For my 13th birthday, my mother’s gift to me was a ticket to see Liberace with her at the Hilton. She was so proud of herself. I was horrified. I remember being the only person under 50 in the audience. My mother was enchanted by Liberace. I think being from Ireland totally threw off any semblance of gaydar she might have had. The show was like a Golden Girl’s drug trip. I was so “are you there God, it’s me Margaret” through the whole thing. Now, I look back fondly at the limo and the houseboy and the rings and the furs. As my mother so aptly said, “Jesus, Mary and fecking Joseph, that man knows how to tickle those bloody ivories.”

  23. Other Emily

    Oh, this movie was definitely some fromage. I very much enjoyed it, but it was also unintentionally hilarious in about a million ways. I loved Rob Lowe and his horrible face. I loved Michael Douglas and Matt Damon both, although I thought they both had some consistency problems. But I ADORED the supporting players Cheyenne Jackson and Scott Bakula. Bakula, in his swim trunks, with that mustache, could make a girl head straight to the 70s in her little time machine. Hot, Hot, Hot. And the juxtaposition of Cheyenne Jackson’s scenes at the beginning with Damon’s near the end was actually brilliant. Super slideshow, ladies. Almost better than the movie.

    • Heather

      I actually think it was intentionally hilarious in all of those ways. I think it TOTALLY knew everything it was doing. Except maybe the inconsistent makeup.

  24.  Teresa

    Can I please have “Matt and Bakula” as my next band name?!

  25. jean

    Heather, this brought tears of joy to my eyes. A true belly-laugh!
    “Whenever I interview a new physician, I have several requirements: Can’t Close Mouth; Must Rotate Entire Upper Body In Order To Turn His Head; Mewls Unexpectedly; Can Rock A Bob.”

    I’m laughing again rereading it. “Must Rotate Entire Upper Body in Order to Turn His Head”. That’s where I lose it every freakin’ time! Thank you. And thanks to Rob Lowe for going there.

    Not a great movie (felt very television biopic towards the end), but Michael Douglas looked healthy and gave a greater character performance than I would have thought possible given his pure Michael Douglas-ness. Damon didn’t surprise me because he’s always solid, but I didn’t realize all his bitch faces until you pointed them out.

  26. esther p.

    “Matt Damon is the Baskin Robbins of bitchface.” i need that cross-stitched on a pillow. :D

  27. Whiterabbit11

    ‘Instead, I will fug his funeral’ – said every aunt of mine, ever. Brilliant work as always! I was so thrilled when I realised you had Fugged this, as I won’t get to see it due to be being antipodean. Seeing Gordon Gecko creeping on Good Will is strangely entrancing, I’m sure many awards are being engraved for them as we speak.

  28. Moxie Lola Carroll

    OMG, the slideshow was fantastic — my stomach is hurting from laughing so hard.

    I need to print out every slide and bind it into my own flip book.

  29. Zulk

    I was convinced that Debbie Reynolds was Helen Mirren!

    How great does Scott Bakula still look? I feel good about crushing on him back in the ’80′s. If only David Hasselhoff had held up as well.

  30. Angela Wilson Gyetvan

    A tour de force, Heather. I thought the performances in the movie were a hoot, but this was even hootier. Brava!

  31. Karen G

    You say Scott Bakula, but I saw Sony Bono.

  32. Maisie

    Heather, I will forevermore be singing “Rhinestone Wangboy”! (And I’m sure Glen Campbell would completely understand.)

  33. Chris P

    Slide 15 is seriously dangerous, especially if you’re eating.

    I did not know that rice could go up one’s nose. I am not happier for that knowledge, although I AM happier for the knowledge that Matt Damon has actually worn a bedazzled budgie smuggler while maintaining a serious face.

  34. Nina

    I’m so glad you decided to fug this one. It’s well-acted, but also a standard biopic, really nothing surprising. Matt Damon is a great actor, but I never bought him as a teenager, especially when he was looking doughy and pudgy. Looked like he walked right off the set of The Informant!

    That said, the clothes made this movie, as well as Rob Lowe’s plastic surgery bonanza. I just wanted a slo-mo scene of him tossing his glorious mane, but you can’t have everything. When he tried to shrug off Matt Damon’s chin cleft request, I almost wet myself.

  35. lulubelle

    The costuming was fabulous but what overshadowed it for me was that Liberace was not a good man. Behind his adoring fans and exciting demeanor was a predator who took advantage of young boys – these were not adults who could evaluate the risks. Not sure if it was a pattern, but at least with Scott Thorson, Liberace chose a boy who he knew had no one and therefore was even more easily manipulated. I walked away deflated, and it’s hard for me to read the high camp reviews knowing the more tragic circumstances. I don’t think the audience and reviewers would have the same reading they are having now if the story was about an older male pursuing and discarding young girls, high camp production values notwithstanding. Sorry for the debbie downer, but I’ve been bothered by this ever since the movie aired. Back to regular programming.