Screen Gems

It took a gay man to play a horny straight man this well

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.

The Towering: Amadeus

Director Milos Forman’s Oscar-gobbling biopic of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lands on just about every critical list of the Best Movies Ever Made. It has good reason: it may just be a perfect movie. Out gay actor Tom Hulce stars in the title role as the ever-horny, ever-flirtatious composer of some of the most iconic music ever. The film takes the unusual step of retelling Mozart’s life through the eyes of one of his chief rivals, Antonio Salieri (F. Murry Abraham), a scheming fellow composer who views Mozart with acidic envy. Salieri recognizes Mozart’s brilliance, and also realizes that he will never write music of the same quality. He then hatches a horrible scheme to murder Mozart and humiliate God himself, who has bestowed on the vulgar Mozart true brilliance and rewarded the pious Salieri with mediocrity.

Hulce and Abraham give two of the screen’s greatest performances in the leading roles, courtesy of Forman’s subtle direction, and gay screenwriter Peter Schaffer’s magnificent screenplay. Besides the movie’s lush 19th-century visuals, it also features a score by Mozart (go figure). Riveting and acted to the extreme by Hulce and Abraham (who won an Oscar over his co-star), Amadeus is just about as good as movies get.

Streams on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, VUDU & YouTube.