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George At 

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Behind the Candelabra

WOW. All I can say is that I'm very glad some of the older folks in my life will probably never see Behind The Candelabra, HBO's bold, frank, in your face peek at Liberace.

I have vivid memories in the 1980's of them staunchly defending Liberace as being straight. Of course, they also thought Paul Lynde was hetero too, so that speaks for itself.

Michael Douglas is crazy brave in his portrayal of the huge Las Vegas star, with virtually no ego on display in allowing himself to be filmed in the most unflattering, bald, frail ways.

Matt Damon matches him as Liberace's (MUCH) younger lover, Scott Thorson, on whose book this is based.

The movie captures the Las Vegas 60's and 70's perfectly, with a cavalcade of guest stars including an unrecognizable Debbie Reynolds as Liberace's mom, Dan Aykroyd as his long suffering manager and Scott Bakula as one of Scott's close friends.

But I could never get past the fact that Liberace is portrayed (seemingly accurately) as a lifelong predator of underage boys, who he seduces with fame, liquor, drugs and the gaudiest display of gold and wealth on record.

As Liberace begins to mold himself with plastic surgery and then asks Scott to match his look with surgery of his own, the movie becomes some mad psycho-sexual, bright lights version of Vertigo, but lacking any of that film's mystery.

I lost track of how many times I thought Douglas and Damon must have fallen over laughing after filming some of their love scenes, which are very graphic.

I can only imagine any older fans of Liberace also fell over after seeing those scenes, but I doubt they were laughing!

Rob Lowe IS hilarious as Liberace's plastic surgeon, a man unable to move any part of his head in a very funny role.

Very well directed (Steven Soderbergh), acted and cast, but isn't Liberace just a predator?

If NBC Dateline had been in business in the 80's, I think Liberace would have been caught holding a glass of lemonade and a half eaten cookie as reporter Chris Hansen walked out with the camera crew.

And part of me thinks he would have just flashed those pearly white teeth and sat down at the piano with a smile.

This is a story without a happy ending and by the film's end you feel horrible for both main characters. Money can't buy you happiness, but it can apparently buy you a house made of gold, lots of jewelry, diamonds and a lots and lots of drugs. A sad, sad portrait of a very unhappy man. B-

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