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The Birdcage Details


Director Mike Nichols teams up with his former partner/screenwriter Elaine May for the first time in many years and for the first time together in films to create this sophisticated, remake of the phenomenally popular French musical farce La Cage aux Folles that stars Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman and Diane Wiest as two dramatically disparate couples who manage to reconcile their vast differences for the sake of their children who are getting married. Williams plays Armand Goldman, the owner of a popular South Beach drag club known for putting on elaborate showcases starring his long-time lover/wife Albert (Lane) who appears as "Starina." Lately poor flamboyant, flighty Albert has been in crisis over the inexorable onset of middle age. He has been moody, paranoid and unbearably. When he gets too inconsolably distraught, handsome but clumsy houseboy Agador quietly slips Albert "Pirin" tablets (which he explains to Armand are simply Aspirin tablets with the "as" scraped off). Still though Albert can be a royal pain, Armand dearly loves him and the two live happily in their splendiferous apartment above the club. One day Armand's son Val (the result of Armand's single foray into straight sex) comes visiting with joyous news: he has found his dreamgirl and is getting married. The only trouble is, Barbara Keeley's father is the blustery ultra-religious right-wing Senator Keeley (Hackman), the founder of the Coalition for Moral Order. Senator Keeley and his colleagues are not as upright as they seem and when his closest associate is found dead beside a black, underage prostitute, Keeley finds his house surrounded by ravenous newshounds, hungry for dirt. Knowing that they are poised to ruin him, Keeley and his proper but slightly addled-wife (Wiest) decide that a big, elaborate, church wedding will be just the ticket to save his reputation. Barbara has neglected to tell them that Val's parents are gay, preferring to claim that they are members of the South Beach social elite. In a panic, she panics and calls Val who breaks the bad news to Armand and begs him to make the apartment less flamboyant and worst of all to hide Albert (who functioned as Val's mother while the youth grew up) during the visit. Armand is angry, but loving his son, finally, reluctantly agrees, knowing that he will deeply wound his companion. Unfortunately, Albert finds out and as a compromise tries to learn how to be macho so he can pretend to be Val's uncle, he is too much the Great Dame to ever pass as one of the guys and so is banned from the party. Armand then locates Catherine and asks her to masquerade as his wife. She agrees to show up later that evening. Meanwhile their friends busily redecorate the apartment until it looks as if it were done in "Early Inquisition." During the fateful dinner party, Catherine is late and Albert gets uproarious revenge. Achingly comic chaos ensues as Armand tries to hold the increasingly tenuous evening together while outside the newshounds bay and threaten to make even more trouble for Senator Keely. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

  • Release date:March 8, 1996


Awarded by
Screen Actors Guild Hank Azaria Best Supporting Actor 1996 Nominee
Screen Actors Guild Nathan Lane Best Supporting Actor 1996 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Carasik Best Art Direction-Set Decoration 1996 Nominee


Robin Williams
as Armand Goldman
Gene Hackman
as Senator Keeley
Nathan Lane
as Albert Goldman / Starina
Dianne Wiest
as Louise Keeley
Hank Azaria
as Agador
Dan Futterman
as Val Goldman
Calista Flockhart
as Barbara Keeley
Christine Baranski
as Katharine
Sylvia Short
as Matron
Trina McGee-Davis
as Black Girl On TV
Ronald Pitts
as TV Reporter
Dorothy Constantine
as Keeley's Maid
Herschel Sparber
as Big Guy in Park
Madeleine Lee Gilford
James Lally
as Cyril
Stanley de Santis
as TV Man in Van
Grant Heslov
as Photographer
Ann Cusack
as TV Woman in Van
Al Rodrigo
as Latino Man In Club
J. Roy Helland
as Club Hostess
Luca Tommassini
as Celsius
Lee Delano
as Bakery Man
Tony Snow
as TV Host
Brian Reddy
as TV Editor
Steven Porfido
as State Trooper
Anthony Giaimo
as Fishmonger
Tom McGowan
as Harry Radman
Scott Kaske
as Goldman Girl
Jim Jansen
as TV Editor
David Sage
as Senator Eli Jackson
Mike Kinsley
as TV Host
Francesca Cruz
as Katharine's Secretary
Mary Major
as TV Reporter
Marjorie Lovett
as Matron
Tim Kelleher
as Waiter in Club
Luis Camacho
as Goldman Girl
John Pontrelli
as Waiter In Cafe
Amy Powell
as TV Reporter
Kirby Mitchell
as Chauffeur
Kevin Stea
as Goldman Girls


Mike Nichols
Mike Nichols
Jean Poiret
Play Author
Elaine May
Emmanuel Lubezki
Mark Mothersbaugh
Composer (Music Score)
Jonathan Tunick
Composer (Music Score)
Arthur Schmidt
Michele Imperato
Associate Producer
Marcello Danon
Executive Producer
Neil Machlis
Executive Producer
Cheryl Carasik
Set Designer
Sean Haworth
Set Designer
Ann Roth
Costume Designer
Bill Taylor
Special Effects
Syd Dutton
Special Effects
Joel Tuber
First Assistant Director
Rodrigo García
Camera Operator
Vincent Paterson
Ellen Lewis
Juliet Taylor
J. Roy Helland