Film

Don Juan DeMarco (1995)

Week of November 23, 2005

Ice-cold martinis lined Phyllis' bookcase bar in Creve Coeur for a screening of Don Juan DeMarco, starring Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway. Back when we were debutantes, Brando was the dreamiest movie star in the biz. He'd move his right brow and it'd get moist down under. We'd never leave our husbands for him — "'til death do us part" still meant something back in the day — but a tryst would be hard to resist.

Such hot-flash infidelity is central to Don Juan DeMarco, only it's not Brando doing the seducing, it's an androgynous young longhair named Johnny Depp. While Brando was pretty, he was never that pretty. There's a scene where Depp is led in to service a sultan's wife, disguised in drag. He inadvertently passes the sultan, who's taken in by Depp-in-drag's beauty and invites the she-man to his regal quarters for a roll in the hay.

Don Juan DeMarco is a sweet, simplistic little fable about a delusional teenage soothsayer from Queens, but the real point of this movie is to facilitate the passing of the "Most Gorgeous & Mysterious Man" baton from an elderly Brando the Blimp to the nubile, luminescent Depp. What sets these guys apart from any number of Hollywood pretty boys is the fact that the only place you'll typically see (past tense in Brando's case) them is onscreen or at a nondescript bistro in French wine country. However frustrating their reclusive nature, it is a far more dignified path than whoring it up on the covers of Us Weekly and People with J.Lo or A-Jo in tow. Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.

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