Possibly the first gay film in Asia, Mar Torres's Jack And Jill, was made in 1954 and stars one of the Philippines' most well-known comics, Dolphy. Known for his cross-dressing roles, Dolphy continued to charm as recently as 2000 in Gil Portes, Markova: Comfort Gay. Noel Vera remembers fondly.


THE ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW

Made in 1954, Mar Torres’s Jack And Jill is about a brother (Filipino comic Dolphy a.k.a. Rodolfo Quizon) who’s out and out gay, and a sister (Lolita Rodriguez) who’s a tomboy. Dolphy calls himself Gloria and likes to put on wigs and preen around, so he’s no good as a family breadwinner; Rodriguez hires herself out as a chauffeur to a rich family and falls in love despite herself with the family’s playboy son.

Dolphy’s gay role is played mainly for laughs, though he’s so insistent in his gayness this might count as some kind of statement - at one point he’s hit by a car, and even when he’s knocked to the ground he’s careful to strike a glamorous pose. The actor in real life, incidentally, is a known womanizer who has had a string of beautiful women (he’s rumored to be "well-equipped," to have a metal shot inserted into his penis ‘for texture,’ and to drink snake’s blood regularly for potency).

The climax has the playboy son kidnapped and held hostage; Rodriguez calls her friends, who are all weightlifters, for help; then Dolphy/Gloria calls on HIS friends, who come, mincing and squealing. The screen teems with half-naked musclemen and screaming queens, beating up the kidnap gang. Then the police arrive and put everything in order (arresting, one might note, all the right people in that confusion, and without having to be told to do so); when they leave, there’s mild turmoil as some of the queens fight over a stray wig.

It’s fascinating to watch as one of the earliest Filipino films ever made to have an openly gay lead character - possibly the first in Asia. One thing though - in the final shot, Dolphy suddenly stands up reformed; he’s no longer Gloria but Gregory, an ostensible stud, possibly a concession to the moralists of the time.

Nida Blanca in F.H. Constantino’s Waray-Waray (Visayan Lass, 1954) is a total delight; she makes the Visayan accent (which she reportedly had to learn to speak) a supple comic tool, clumsy, spunky, sexy or dense, depending on the situation. She’s at her most charismatic dressed up in men’s pants and shirt, which emphasizes her androgynous yet somehow wholesome appeal. Blanca costars with Nestor de Villa, as a basically decent man who finds his tomboy partner a handful and a half.

Note: Businessworld, February 22, 2002. The article also appears in Noel Vera's Critic After Dark: A Review Of Philippine Cinema (BigO Books).
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November 14, 2006









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