Whether Cloris Leachman was playing the devilishly fun Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (or her subsequent spin-off Phyllis), playing the iconic Frau Blücher in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, or taking a turn on Dancing With The Stars, there is practically nothing that Leachman could do that fans didn’t absolutely adore. While Leachman left us on January 27th, her final film can almost be considered a love letter to the LGBTQ community. Leachman is playing a grandmother to a drag queen who comes to live with her in the much buzzed about film Jump Darling.
The Canadian film features Leachman in what became her final starring role, and is a debut film from writer/director Phil Connell. The film tells the story of an actor who becomes a drag queen (Thomas Duplussie) who chooses to return to Canada to move in with his rapidly fading grandmother (Leachman).
The synopsis partially reads “In no time, Russell is lighting up the local college bar with his alter ego Fishy Falters. Antagonized by his overprotective mother, a sexy-though-mysterious college boy, a cockney city gay bar owner, and the spectre of his failed-artist grandfather, Russell struggles to realize a bold new identity. Meanwhile, Margaret fights to retake control despite her faltering mind.” Additionally, Canadian drag performers Fay Slift, Miss Fiercealicious and Canada’s Drag Race star Tynomi Banks make appearances, adding a layer of authenticity to the film.
As a lifelong ally to the LGBTQ community (Leachman also played Ellen DeGeneres’ mother in the groundbreaking Ellen sitcom), it is an appropriate homage that Leachman’s final film will be premiering at 2021 BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Jump Darling writer and director Connell said partially “To be able to celebrate Cloris and her achievements within this festival is a perfect tribute to her legacy. Cloris was an icon and an ally. To work with her, to know her, and now to share her final leading performance with the world is a true honour.”
For more information about key dates and tickets for the 2021 BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, click here.
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