The Boys in the Band  

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The Boys in the Band is a 1970 American drama film directed by William Friedkin. The screenplay by Mart Crowley is based on his Off-Broadway play of the same title. It is among the first major American motion pictures to revolve around gay characters and is often cited as a milestone in the history of queer cinema, and is also thought to be the first mainstream American film to use the swear word cunt.

The ensemble cast, all of whom also played the roles in the play's initial stage run in New York City, includes Kenneth Nelson as Michael, Peter White as Alan, Leonard Frey as Harold, Cliff Gorman as Emory, Frederick Combs as Donald, Laurence Luckinbill as Hank, Keith Prentice as Larry, Robert La Tourneaux as Cowboy, and Reuben Greene as Bernard. Model/actress Maud Adams has a brief cameo appearance as a fashion model in a photo shoot segment in the opening montage.

Plot

The film is set in an Upper East Side apartment in New York City in the late 1960s. Michael, a Roman Catholic sporadically employed writer and recovering alcoholic, is preparing to host a birthday party for his friend Harold. Another of his friends, Donald, a self-described underachiever who has moved from the city, arrives and helps Michael prepare. Alan, Michael's (presumably straight) old college roommate from Georgetown, calls with an urgent need to see Michael. Michael reluctantly agrees and invites him to come over.

One by one, the guests arrive. Emory is a stereotypical flamboyant interior decorator; Hank, a soon-to-be-divorced schoolteacher, and Larry, a fashion photographer, are a couple, albeit one with monogamy issues; and Bernard is an amiable black bookstore clerk. Alan calls again to inform Michael that he won't be coming after all, and the party continues in a festive manner. But, unexpectedly, Alan has decided to drop by after all, and his arrival throws the gathering into turmoil.

"Cowboy" — a hustler and Emory's "gift" to Harold — arrives. As tensions mount, Alan assaults Emory and in the ensuing chaos Harold finally makes his grand appearance. In the midst of the scuffle, Michael impulsively begins drinking again. As the guests become more and more intoxicated, hidden resentments begin to surface, and the party moves indoors from the patio due to a sudden downpour.

Michael, who believes Alan is a closeted homosexual, begins a telephone game in which the objective is for each guest to call the one person whom he truly believes he has loved. With each call, past scars and present anxieties are revealed. Bernard reluctantly attempts to call the son of his mother's employer, with whom he'd had a sexual encounter as a teenager, while Emory calls a dentist on whom he'd had a crush while in high school. Bernard and Emory immediately regret having made the phone calls. Hank and Larry attempt to call one another (via two phone lines in Michael's apartment). Michael's plan to "out" Alan with the game appears to backfire when Alan calls his wife, not the male college friend Justin Stewart whom Michael had presumed to be Alan's lover. As the party ends and the guests depart, Michael collapses into Donald's arms, sobbing. When he pulls himself together, it appears his life will remain very much the same.

Cast




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Boys in the Band" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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