Boys in the Band, The (1970)

“Life’s a goddamn laugh riot…”

Boys Band Poster

Synopsis:
A group of gay men get together to celebrate a mutual friend’s birthday, and learn about themselves and each other in the process.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
In his review of this groundbreaking Hollywood film — the first to deal explicitly with homosexuality — Peary argues that it represents a “negative, [stereotyped] image of gays”; I disagree. While these characters are certainly bitter in many ways, there are plenty of other movies which paint an equally depressing picture of humanity, and this one doesn’t stand out as particularly pernicious; instead, it simply reveals what can happen when people of any sexual orientation are forced to confront the most personal, uncomfortable parts of themselves. The more recent film Love! Valour! Compassion! (1997) — also about a group of gay men who come together for a short period of time — appears to owe much to Boys in the Band, though with the added spectre of AIDS hovering over its characters.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • The first Hollywood film explicitly about homosexuals.
    Leonard Frey
  • Fine acting by Leonard Frey and Cliff Gorman, among others.

Must See?
Yes, simply for its place in the history of gay cinema.

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One Response to “Boys in the Band, The (1970)”

  1. Yes – a must-see, for its place in film history and in gay cinema history as well. There simply hadn’t been anything like it prior in terms of what it meant/means to be gay. Surprisingly, in my ‘travels’, I’ve heard quite a few gay people speak of this film in less-than-glowing terms, finding it ‘negative’. However, though it focuses on a group of men who somehow survived the ’50s and are only beginning, in the ’60s, to be comfortable with themselves, ‘BITB’ is still powerful and relevant. What’s odd about the bulk of subsequent gay cinema is how little there is in it (i.e., what’s produced by gay people themselves) that is overwhelmingly positive–which doesn’t shed any light on why ‘BITB’ is often unfairly maligned. BTW: Don’t know who is holding the rights but, in all the years I lived in NYC (of all places), this film was not shown once on tv–it can be found on video if you hunt.

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