Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Boys in the Band - Harold Arrives


Back in gay prehistoric times (before most of my blog followers were born) there was a seminal (no pun intended) movie about gay men.  It was called "Boys in the Band."  I remember clearly when and where Bill and I saw it.  It was at the Goldman theater on Chestnut Street in center city Philadelphia, right across from the bank (Girard Bank) where I worked.

We had heard about this first ever gay (called "homosexual") movie in the bars.  We couldn't believe there was actually a movie about real gay men and how we actually lived.  Just couldn't believe it.  Oh I know it is hard for a lot of you "youngsters" to believe that we of an earlier gay generation were so excited by this first ever main stream movie about gay men.

Bill and I were so nervous about seeing this movie, that we saw it in the day time.  We sat near the exit doors in case their was a riot disturbance in the theater's audience during the showing.  After all, gays back in pre Stonewall Days were only heard about and not seen in decent company.  We were allowed to congregate at our gay bars, with the knowledge that during election season our bars would be raided.  It was just a fact of life.

So it was with some trepidation that Bill and I went to see this HOMOSEXUAL movie.  Note, there isn't one female character in it (excluding "Cliff").  You get the feeling from the movie that it was just a film of the original off Broadway play, which it was.  However, it still works.

Me, my friend Ron and Phil back In The Day - 1965
Our very own Boys In The Band
Both Ron and Phil are gone now - I survived


The movie's language and clothing is somewhat dated (tight pants on the ass for the guys and the "Mary's" and "she's" when referring to gay friends) but otherwise the premise holds up true.  Sure, it's about gay self hatred and bitchiness but the Slice of Life, Gay Life, still comes through strong and true.

Harold's entrance has to be one of the best entrances in movies since Liz Taylor's Cleopatra's entrance into Rome.  No one has ever topped Harold.

The sad news from this movie is that all of the actors have since died from AIDS.  Everyone except the one straight actor, Laurence Luckinbill who in real life is also straight and married to Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of "I Love Lucy" Lucille Ball.

This is one movie I can watch again an again.  I have lived it.

Bravo boys!

9 comments:

  1. Hi and thank you so much for your wonderful blog. I never usually comment on these things but it is such a good thing to find older guys in the blogsphere and be able to relate about lives (I'm 53). So instead of ramblin g and making a fool of myself - thank you again. You have brightened my day and I offer you a big friendly hug from Ireland.
    Brian.

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  2. anne marie in philly11:06 AM

    I have never seen this movie. now you have me intrigued...

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  3. Anne Marie,

    Rent the DVD for "Boys In The Band" It is an excellent movie and holds up well with time. You will enjoy it. The only thing, there isn't ONE female in the movie. I didn't realize that until the end of the movie.

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  4. Brian,

    How wonderful to hear from you! Yes, I am happy to provide that older guy perspective to you. But I have to tell you that at your age (53), I consider you a mere "youngster". :)

    I enjoy writing my blog tremendously and I am glad that I have found an audience.

    Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it.

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  5. This is one movie I do watch over and over again and have stolen many of the lines from. People today, claim it's dated, but as you say,"the slice of Gay life comes through strong and true." If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend "Making The Boys" which is available from Netflix streaming and a great companion to "The Boys In The Band."

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  6. Paul,

    Thank you very much! I will order "Making The Boys". I have the DVD which I never tire of watching. Thanks again for the tip.

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  7. This title has been lurking in the back of my mind for 35 years! When I first started buying gay mags in the mid-70s I recall an article citing this film as a 'landmark' - and ever since then have been looking for a chance to view it, which never came. So this is the very first time I've seen any part of it. True, it looks dated and looks very much playing into the hands of those who want to see gays as queenie types bitching non-stop at each other. (I appreciate it was based on a stage play.)
    I hadn't realised the film was directed by William Friedkin who, of course, went on to direct 'The Exorcist' as well as the controversial 'Cruising'.
    (Btw: I don't have a DVD player.)

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  8. Ray,

    You HAVE to get a DVD player. They are very inexpensive these days. You can also buy the DVD of this movie. Believe me, you will like it. It is excellent. I've seen it many times. Except of the tight pants and some of the slang, not much has changed. This movie was a landmark. I remember how nervous we were going to see it at a 'regular' movie theater. I thought we would be attacked. This was back in the Dark Ages.

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  9. It has been a while since I have seen Cleopatra, but if I remember correct Elizabeth Taylor made quite a few entrances in that movie!

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