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The Boys in the Band

Rating:No Rating
Release Date:March 19, 1999
Running time:119 minutes
Cast:Cliff Gorman, Leonard Frey, Kenneth Nelson, Frederick Combs
Director:William Friedkin
Producer:Mart Crowley
Writer:Mart Crowley
Distributor:Hollywood Classics

Description: (1970) "You show me a happy homosexual and I'll show you a gay corpse." In what Pauline Kael likened to "the gathering of bitchy ladies in The Women, but with a 40s-movie bomber crew cast," eight queens ­ including nelly Cliff Gorman ("I'm your topless cocktail waitress"), an is-he? or isn't-he? closet case, and one midnight cowboy party favor ­ gather in a Greenwich Village apartment for the birthday of self-described "ugly, pockmarked Jew fairy" Leonard Frey (later Motel the Tailor in Fiddler on the Roof) ­ but nasty host Kenneth Nelson insists on playing those truth games. Alternately hilarious, contrived, gut-wrenching and sentimental, Crowley's pathbreaking play moved from headline-making Off-Broadway smash to the first American movie exclusively about male homosexuals (using ­ miracle of miracles ­ the original New York cast in its entirety), a subject that had previously been a Hollywood no-no ("And it still is," the author points out) ­ although the movie was still slapped with an R rating for its "homosexual dialogue." And although its hoary stereotypes caused grumblings from a burgeoning gay rights movement, as Vito Russo noted in The Celluloid Closet, it offered "the best and most potent argument for gay liberation ever offered in a popular art form" ­ within two years of its release, two dozen movies with gay themes emerged. And its endless barrage of catty zingers introduced the mainstream moviegoer to the joys of "gay humor."

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