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USA 1970
Directed by
William Friedkin
120 minutes
Rated M

2.5 stars

The Boys In The Band

I am not gay but I suspect that this classic of the early coming-out era of the late 1960s, even for those who are, is dated stuff. The kind of self-flagellating mentality informing the film's drama comntent is probably not something most gays would in these more liberal days identify with.  The main problem with the film from today’s perspective is the floridly stereotypical characterisations, which in turn is heightened by the brittlely wordy script which is alternately bitchy and hyper-ventilating and overly-mannered.

The story concerns a group of homosexual men attending a birthday party for one of their own. Many of the cast in Friedkin’s version had been in the hit 1968 Broadway play of the same name and whilst they were no doubt cast for their first-hand knowledge of the scene, their propensity for over-acting is considerable (the author and producer Mart Crowley insisted on using them rather than "name" actors). Kenneth Nelson as the party’s host however provides a strong focal point.  Friedkin keeps close to the stage production but this only accentuates the near hysterical atmosphere as the characters tear each other to pieces in a orgy of emoting that makes Tennessee Williams look like Samuel Beckett

The Boys In The Band was a significant film in its day joining The Killing Of Sister George (1968) and Midnight Cowboy (1969) in bringing the homosexual lifestyle to the world at large (although Friedkin would later become a target of protests by the gay community because of Cruising, 1980), however is probably today even more of a minority interest than when it was originally released,

BTW: Several of the cast, including Kenneth Nelson, Leonard Frey, Keith Prentice, Frederick Combs and Robert La Tourneaux would die from AIDS-related illnesses.

DVD Extras:  A typically informative commentary by Friedkin; and 45 minutes worth of featurettes, divided into three separate pieces dealing with production history.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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