“I wanna go somewhere! I wanna do something!”
When a motorcyclist (Colin Campbell) and his young girlfriend Dot (Rita Tushingham) have a falling out shortly after their marriage, Reggie (Campbell) moves in with his friend Pete (Dudley Sutton), not realizing Pete is gay.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Marital Problems
- Rita Tushingham Films
Canadian director Sidney Furie helmed this adaptation of a novel by Gillian Freeman (written under the pseudonym “Eliot George”) about motorcycle culture and homosexuality in mid-century Britain. Naturally, the book was toned down quite a bit in order to pass censors, with the first portion of the “kitchen sink realism” storyline focusing on Reggie and Dot’s doomed working-class marriage. The couple are so immature and inexperienced that their idea of marital bliss (at least at first) is having privacy for sex, and going to a carnival-like “chalet” where Dot instantly gets her hair dyed blonde after years of her mother telling her not to.
When it becomes clear that the couple have a lot of maturing to do in order to begin to function as co-habiting adults, the narrative shifts towards both motorcycle culture:
… and the friendship subplot between Reggie and Pete. It’s crystal clear to everyone (except apparently Reggie) that Pete is gay, which strains credulity a bit — though Reggie (just like Dot) really is young and naive on every level.
Sutton’s performance as Pete is a stand-out: he conveys depth, longing, and a life filled with camouflage.
It was interesting reading this quote from Sutton on IMDb’s biography page about him:
[My role in Leather Boys] was the breakthrough moment for me but it wasn’t shown very widely because it had a homosexual theme to it. It was a risky part to take, but then I was very political and, although I am not gay myself, I really did care about the trouble my gay friends were having. People were being put in prison, beaten up, blackmailed, so when that job came up I thought, ‘I’m going to play it as a man who is in love, not a flapping, limp-wristed camp thing that everyone can laugh at.’
Indeed, it’s not until the film’s final moments when we see a more cliched and seedy glimpse into the world Pete maneuvers through.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
- Dudley Sutton as Pete
- Rita Tushingham and Colin Campbell as the naive young newlyweds
- Enjoyable motorcycling sequences (particularly when the group rides through Edinburgh)
- Fine cinematography by Gerald Gibbs
No, but it’s worth a look for its historical significance in gay cinema.