The Boys in the Band–the seminal (if not semen-al) gay movie from the early days of visibility—will finally be available to entertain and titillate the masses on DVD come November 11. The 1970 film, based on Mart Crowley‘s blistering 1968 play–brings an assortment of witty, abrasive, yearning gay types together to exchange barbs, group-dance to Motown songs, and humiliate each other with constant reminders of their second-class citizenship. When I saw a revival of the play a few years ago, I realized how little has really changed since it’s pre-Stonewall inception. Yes, we’ve all gotten way better places at the table–and we help decorate it too–but it’s amazing how we still have to learn to survive by surmounting shame and insecurity with quips and bonding techniques.
The movie version, I must say, is fucking brilliant! It makes you ashamed to be gay and worshipful of it at the same time! You will thrill to the mincing, heart wrenching performances by everyone from Cliff Gorman to Leonard Frey, and to lines like “You’re a sunt, Michael! You know what a sunt is, don’t you? It’s cunt with a cedilla”.
By the way, the director, William Friedkin, went on to do big, Academy Award things like The Exorcist. The Boys in the Band certainly prepared him for the horror.