Back2Stonewall’s Saturday Night Movie – WATCH: “The Boys In The Band” (1970) FULL MOVIE! – Video

Boys in the band

 

Over 45 years ago the movie adaptation of Mart Crowley’s famous play The Boys in the Band opened in movie theaters around the country. 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.

The plot is a simple one.  The film is set in an Upper East Side apartment in New York City in the late 1960s. Michael, a Roman Catholic 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.

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; both Bernard and Emory immediately regret having made the phone calls. Hank and Larry attempt to call one-another (via two separate 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.

While the movie adaptation originally received less than stellar and even sometimes hostile reviews compared to it’s widely acclaimed play counterpart because of the paradigm shift that happened with the Stonewall riots. Today it is seen as a classic of gay cinema.  Both the play and the movie were  groundbreaking.  Despite the cries of stereotyping. No one had ever seen gay people portrayed so boldly.  In The Boys in the Band, the characters dealt with homophobia whether it was internalized or came from the “straight world”. The Stonewall riots pushed gays to fight back against homophobia and not to be complacent. While the play opened in 1968, one year before the Stonewall Riots, by the time the movie adaptation was released in 1970, the gay liberation movement had moved past complacency and wanted more than what The Boys in the Band had to offer.

Bill Weber from Slant Magazine wrote “The party-goers are caught in the tragedy of the pre-liberation closet, a more crippling and unforgiving one than the closets that remain.”

The Boys in the Band showed how we, as queers, fairies, faggots and homosexuals were not alone and while compelling  and at times brutally grim at times, it is a view into the dark night of the per-Stonewall gay soul.

The Boys in the Band is the essential gay drama and a piece of our history that gay person should experience.

Watch the FULL movie below.

 

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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3 Responses

  1. Jack says:

    I first saw BOYS IN THE BAND in 1972 in an auditorium at Mount Holyoke College. I was the only male in the room with a hundred women.

  2. Mr says:

    The Boys in the Band is more homophobic and full of hate and steretotypes than a Focus on the Family conference and should be relegated to the trash bin, or only watched in the context of seeing how far we’ve come. Nothing but a bunch of self hating queens whining and bitching for two hours and blaming their mothers for their problems.

  3. Tim Hare says:

    I remember watching this terrifying shocking movie when I was still in total denial as a senior college student enduring an extremely ugly witch hunt at my fraternity that ended tragically for all concerned – the fallout likely leading to the house actually going out of business soon after a mass exodus by both the heterosex-supremacists and the closet-cases.

    When we now watch this movie today nearly 50 years later, we’re shocked instead by it’s raw honesty and joyfulness!

What do you think?