19 June 2011

Movie Review: Boys in the Band

It's been many years since I saw this movie and frankly, I didn't remember much about it. That might be because I saw it when I was just a teenager living in the province. It was before I was ever exposed to urban (or quasi-urban) gay life.

Of course, the movie is tragic and brilliant and, given the way we are told about gay history these days, you would never imagine that the movie came out in 1970 based upon the successful off-Broadway play in the 1960s.

The story is of a barkada of gay guys in New York who go to one of the alpha gay's condo to celebrate the other alpha gay's birthday. The condo owner gets an unexpected call from a "married" friend who cries on the other line saying he's in the city and has to see him. He invites him to the party. This just brings out the worst in everyone and everything we associate with the negative shadow of the gay subculture (caddy, petty gossiping, anima possessed, etc., etc.,)

Robert La Tourneaux plays the Cowboy Tex hustler who is one of the friend's birthday gifts to the birthday boy. Robert was openly gay at that time and he never really got another role after the movie -- which he blamed on the movie at first. And I mention him (in addition to luring certain readers into watching the movie for no other reason) for the point, his life made. La Tourneaux died of AIDS in 1986 -- in his final years, he was taken care of by co-actor Cliff Gorman (to the right of Robert in the picture above) and Cliff's wife.

This is a historical movie of the first order that every self-identified gay man should watch.

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