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A haunted Ian McKellen and a himbo Brendan Fraser brought this celebrated gay biopic to life

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Welcome back to our queer film retrospective, “A Gay Old Time.” In this week’s column, we revisit Gods And Monsters, a more recent film that turns the lens on gay Hollywood history from nearly a century ago.A few years ago, during an interview with Buzzfeed News, Sir Ian McKellen mentioned (maybe as a joke, maybe not) that he would like the inscription on his tombstone to read: “Here lies Gandalf.

He came out.”In just six words, he was able to capture perfectly the two things he wanted to be most vividly remembered for: embodying one of the most emblematic characters in both literature and film, and living as an openly gay man.Although it was probably meant as a throwaway joke in an otherwise quite moving conversation, the idea of having a choice in how we want to be remembered is one that’s remarkably present throughout Gods And Monsters, the 1998 biopic that stands as (arguably) McKellen’s most acclaimed star vehicle.

The film closely follows a man who struggles with what he wants to leave behind after his death, the way other people remember him, and how he is able (and in some ways, also very much unable) to look back at his own life.Gods and Monsters is based on the novel Father Of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram, following the last days in the life of James Whale, the director behind two of the most iconic and lasting films in cinematic history: Frankenstein and Bride Of Frankenstein.After suffering a stroke, Whale (McKellen) finds himself somewhat trapped in his Hollywood mansion with his maid, Hanna (Lynn Redgrave).

When a rugged, handsome gardener named Clayton (Brendan Fraser, playing what is perhaps the most essential distillation of a himbo) starts keeping him company, Whale is forced to look back at his.

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