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Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)

Week of July 13, 2005

According to its Web site, the goal of the 27-year-old North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) is to end the extreme oppression of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships. Earth to NAMBLA: Little Lord Fauntleroy accomplished this very goal back in '36, way before y'all started out -- and way, way before Turbonegro recorded the thrash metal classic "The Midnight NAMBLA."

Fittingly, Little Lord Fauntleroy's mother -- to whom he oddly refers not as "mother" but as "dearest" -- is played by Dolores Costello, the grandmother of Drew Barrymore, famous for her turn opposite Whoopi Goldberg in the muff-munching empowerment flick Boys on the Side. Moreover, when Little Lord Fauntleroy readies himself to leave for England to live with his regal grandpappy, he bids a smoldering adieu to a teenage Brooklyn shoeshine boy played by Mickey Rooney. Were this film not made in the '30s, the boys assuredly would have tongue-kissed. Thus is Fauntleroy's pro-gay DNA well established.

But the film does not become truly fagtastic until the little lord meets his grandpa, the Earl of Dorincourt, at his estate in the English countryside. The earl is regarded as a world-class prick and treats his grandson in precisely that manner when they first meet. Undaunted, nine-year-old Fauntleroy quickly wins him over -- and then some. The result is a beautiful love story between old man and young boy, exactly the sort of public image NAMBLA wishes it could project. Instead, unfairly or otherwise, NAMBLA is generally regarded as a fringe group rife with predatory child rapists.

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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