DVD Release of "Cruising" and a look back at the controversy

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    Sep 05, 2007 5:20 PM GMT
    Interesting think piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 5 about the
    DVD release of "Cruising"

    If you don't know about this movie, it stars Al Pacino who plays a cop going undercover into the gay leather community to solve a series of murders in New York City.

    It was controversial at the time because of the way that the gay world was projected...all based upon stereotypes. In other words, at the time, it used the prevailing notion that gay men were either into being trussed up in leather and whips, or were effeminate queen types and were sociopathic, sex-crazed people.

    There were demonstrations or threatened demonstrations upon its release. But the interesting issue is that it demonized the sexual frenzy that its stereotypes projected on all gay men. But, in retrospect, it MIGHT be seen as a purposeful overstatement of a behavior in which a good number of gay mendid indeed engage...right at the start of the trickling of evidence that a "gay plague" (AIDS) was ongoing.

    I may have to rent it and resee it in the context of today's world.

    John
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    Sep 05, 2007 6:01 PM GMT
    I've never seen it but I had heard about it. Having not lived during that time, I think I'd find it interesting. I wonder how utterly strange and foreign this film might look to some of the younger guys on here.
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    Sep 05, 2007 6:55 PM GMT
    Saw it when it came out on a double-bill with "Looking for Mr. Goodbar". Afterwards, didn't want to go out, didn't want to stay home.... Freaky pairing.

    This is a must-see movie, guys - if you haven't seen it, please do. If you saw it last some years ago, pick it up again. I rented it about a year ago and saw a lot more in it than I'd remembered.

    It's a keeper.
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    Sep 05, 2007 7:15 PM GMT
    I just stuck in in my Netflix queue. I'd heard of it while reading a book this summer, but hadn't looked into it at all. It seems like it should be an interesting watch.
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    Sep 05, 2007 7:19 PM GMT
    And Pacino used to be HOT!
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    Sep 05, 2007 7:22 PM GMT
    Oh I don't know if I agree with that. I've always thought that even young Pacino has always looked a little scary and gravely.
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    Sep 05, 2007 7:23 PM GMT
    PSJoey: "...Saw it when it came out on a double-bill with "Looking for Mr. Goodbar"...."

    Even more freaky is that one of my best friends actually knew John Wain Wilson briefly (she was from Indiana, and that's where he was, at least for a while, before going to New York) long before his killing Roseann Quinn. Imagine how freaky that was for her. Mr. Goodbar was not the name of the murderer, but of the bar where the victim met him.
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    Sep 05, 2007 7:33 PM GMT
    Hmm, was this pairing meant to highlight "The Evils & Dangers of Premarital/Deviant Sexual Practices" or what? How puritanical!

    To be fair, "Cruising" isn't so judgemental about the protagonist's behavior and as a film, it's quite extraordinary for it's use of music, ambiance, Pacino (though Keaton is good in her film), and as a glimpse of NYC before the "reign of terror", a.k.a., the Giuliani administration.
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    Sep 05, 2007 9:31 PM GMT
    I just remember being freaked out by the violent killings. The ending was pretty intense too.
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    Sep 05, 2007 10:27 PM GMT
    I remember the fisting scene. Don't know why that bit stuck in my, er, mind.
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    Sep 05, 2007 10:30 PM GMT
    It is a good film, the serial killer storyline is quite gripping and it works as a thriller. The gay stuff is just the gimmick bit.
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    Sep 05, 2007 10:32 PM GMT
    "scary and gravely"

    This is a bad thing?
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    Sep 05, 2007 10:39 PM GMT
    I know it's crazy, but I don't like my man to frighten me.
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    Sep 05, 2007 10:46 PM GMT
    Its a movie I've always wanted to see and am looking forward to it.

    There was a 1980ish movie that I caught on TV many, many years ago about an undercover cop looking for a criminal attacking gay men, but it was more campy. The cop had to perfect the 'clone' look, cut-off jean shorts, tank top, workboots and wool socks, all while living with a queen in a 'gay' apartment complex. I wish I knew the name of the movie.
  • zakariahzol

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    Sep 05, 2007 11:32 PM GMT
    I was a teenager. America is just a far away dream. When Cruisng is shown in local cinema the local newpaper review say is a movie of the morally corupted America , a Sodom and Gomorah , a doomsday senario kinda thing. I paid 80cent after cycling my bike to the city to watch it.I can barely understand English then and depend very much on the subtitle to know what going on. Turn out it is heavily censor , compare to the video copies I see in Michigan in the 80's.

    The part when this guy ask the victim "if you ever been rob", then ask him to turn over and stab him in the back. The floating hand in New York harbour , wow unforgetable. The black leather scene , gay guys dacing together. Hopefully the movie is somehow release in my country (I doubt) un cut version or some pirated copies so and I can relive this awful memory.
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    Sep 06, 2007 12:07 AM GMT
    "Cruising" in part was filmed in the Mine Shaft, a notorious bar/sex venue in the late '70s and early '80s.

    As a baby homo, I went there a good bit while I was living in NY at the Roosevelt Hotel. One morning I woke up naked on the roof there and decided: "It's time to change my life." So I came back to Atlanta -- after calling someone to bring me some clothes.

    The Mine Shaft was also the first bar to be closed in NYC -- around 1985 or 86, I think -- under a new law to discourage multiple-partner, high-risk sex because of the AIDS epidemic.

    The movie was made by the same director who made Boys in the Band, I believe -- another controversial film because of its negative stereotypes.
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    Sep 06, 2007 5:40 AM GMT
    OW - I have a hard time thinking of "Boys in the Band" as controversial. It's more like docu-drama. The characters are enhanced a bit for dramatic effect - but who doen't know one of each of them - in a contemporary variation, of course.

    It's worth pointing out that of all of them, Emory, the biggest queen in the bunch, had his shit pretty much together. The same situation as in "The Gay Deceivers", "Fortune in Men's Eyes", and "La Cage aux Folles".
  • Laurence

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    Sep 06, 2007 5:48 AM GMT
    I think the problem, for me, with the Boys in the Band. Wasn't that there aren't lots of screaming queens on the Gay scene, we know there are pople like those shown in the movie. It's just that so many of them in that particular movie are self-loathing and sad, and in a time when there aren't many Gay movies, that it's a shame that that is all we are portrayed as (oh that and serial killers obviously).

    Lozx
  • MikemikeMike

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    Sep 06, 2007 6:01 AM GMT
    Saw it years ago. I rember Al Pacino's charater getting yelled at for the wrong color bandanna in his pocket...hahahaha Strange movie, but have bars, like that leather one, changed all that much?? Just wondered...

    Also I heard a stand up comedian at the time say.."did you see Cruising?? They turned Al Pacino gay!" Like a full moon had something to do with it or something!! LMAO.. Guess I should rent it again to see how it compares to modern day life.
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    Sep 06, 2007 10:51 AM GMT
    i remember seeing 'cruising' and being so excited by it. not that i'm particularly into leather.

    didn't they cut the fisting scene for general release? i wonder if the new release is intact?

    mikemikemike you said has anything changed in terms of bars like the one featured in the film? well there are plenty of them in London. more than ever. 'hard on', 'fist', subtle.

    mind you i remember going to 'hoist' one night, a particularly intimidating leather bar and i saw these 2 macho guys at the bar all decked out in the gear. when i got up close to them, what were they talking about? opera!
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    Sep 06, 2007 12:32 PM GMT
    The movie "cruising" was my one connection to the gay world...I remember it being on cable tv when i was a teen...and watching it at midnite when my parents were asleep...I was so engrossed in that movie as it allowed me to see what the gay world was like...a world I was too afraid to venture into at the time...I am definitely going to rent it...and encourage everyone out there who hasnt seen it to do the same...its a good movie!!
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    Sep 06, 2007 12:43 PM GMT
    "OW - I have a hard time thinking of "Boys in the Band" as controversial. It's more like docu-drama. The characters are enhanced a bit for dramatic effect - but who doen't know one of each of them - in a contemporary variation, of course."

    My recollection is that it was controversial -- and maybe it was more retrospectively controversial -- for the reasons Laurence mentions. It certainly didn't make being queer enticing to me. Then again, I found Cruising kinda enticing, obviously, since I ended up at the Mine Shaft and Anvil.

    But both movies are part of that genre that invites empathy for queers as pathological beings. Remember that Roberta Flack tune, "All the Sad Young Men"? That's how I recall "Boys in the Band." I should rent it, haven't seen it in years.
  • zakariahzol

    Posts: 2241

    Sep 06, 2007 1:20 PM GMT
    Dakuk,

    I see Cruising 2 time. First in the 70's in Malaysia (heavily censored and butchered) the second time in Michigan during the 80's , you know those big VCR kinda thing. I dont recall any fisting in there. I remember feeling slightly dissappointed when the suspected serial killer is revealed. He look kinda harmless , skinny kid . They probably should get somebody more mean and macho to play the killer . I cant really remember the end, though. I be going for vacation in Australia this Oct, I try to got a copies if they sell it there.
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    Sep 06, 2007 7:51 PM GMT
    They re-released it in the UK a few years ago with the unedited version.

    I always remember thinking the ending was a bit strange with Al Pacino dressed in leather looking in the mirror, it seemed to be saying that dressing up in leather can turn you gay.
  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1925

    Sep 06, 2007 8:50 PM GMT
    Crimthann, the movie you were talking about was titled "Partners' with Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt. The movie poster had Ryan holding a gun and John holding a hair dryer. It was very very campy and used almost every 'gay' cliche in the book, but I still kinda enjoyed it. I guess when I was growing up, an bad gay movie was better than no gay movie at all.