This is a truly great film. It’s based on the play and retains it’s entire original cast and all are great in there performances. Three dimensional characters that make you feel for them while at different points hating them and laughing at there actions.
The best part of this film is that even though this is based on a play and pretty much the action is set up that way. Director William Friedkin really opens up the space so that it doesn’t feel like a cramped apartment but feels like a open space or a grand ballroom. Just look at the scene where Leonard Frey’s character Harold comes to the party and we see different shots of his accessories before we see him fully and when he is revealed boom you take him all in like a shot of alcohol. This obviously has influenced many directors specifically director Paul Thomas Anderson. Just look at the scene in boogie nights where Philip baker hall as the col. is introduced
This is where I really have to give William Friedkin credit he doesn’t really get the respect he deserves as a director who has moved through various genres and never really falters in his work
Horror – The Exorcist
Action – Sorcerer, To Live And die In L.A.
Drama – The French Connection
Thriller – Cruising
he should be recognized and at least mentioned in the same breath as Francis ford Coopola, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg
The Cast is all great and makes you truly feel the hidden demons of the characters while also seeing there natural charisma. The other title for this could have been “It’s cruel to be kind” as all of them are put through a emotional ringer to be true to themselves while making them also hate themselves and deal with the image they have put in front of there friends with who they truly are. One of the most intriguing actors is cliff Gorman who plays Emory who plays the most flamboyant of the characters but was one of the few straight members of the cast and was quite masculine in life he originally played Lenny Bruce on broadway until Dustin Hoffman played the role in the film version and often in the streets people would come up to him while walking with his wife and ask him why he was trying to play the role of a straight man in life he is that convincing.
This movie is truly a landmark for when it came out homosexuals were around and known but still had to have there sexuality to be accepted and not attacked. This is a film that helped make a leap forward and show that homosexuals are normal people not some caricature. Which is interesting since a few years later William Friedkin made “Cruising”. Which a lot of people in the gay community felt help further portrayed gay stereotypes and make them seem depraved and violent. I like the film thinking of it as a thriller that revolved around the community but I can see how they were offended
The film is definitely dated but it shows how long the gay community has come in the media in the writing and how they are portrayed. But still a marvel for the time it was made.
Most of the cast is departed now so they never got to see the DVD release and the definite praise they would get from a new generation of film fans and gay audience members who would applaud them both for there performances and there bravery in tackling the subject matter. The DVD includes commentary by director Willaim Friedkin and writer Matt Crowley. It Also has a documentary trailing every aspect of the making of this piece of work The Play, The Film and the aftermath over the years. It is a definite buy. I just can’t say enough good things about this movie.