William Friedkin’s groundbreaking film The Boys In The Band will make a comeback on Blu-ray in November when UK audiences get to see the film alongside a raft of extra features.
William Friedkin’s groundbreaking film The Boys In The Band, a seminal moment for queer cinema that divided the gay community at the time of its release in 1970, will make a comeback on Blu-ray in November when UK audiences get to see it alongside a raft of extra features including a newly recorded audio commentary track with Friedkin and playwright Mart Crowley.
Friedkin, best known for The Exorcist and The French Connection, caused controversy in 1970 when The Boys In The Band was first released in part because the original play by Mart Crowley had impacted members of the gay community in very different ways, some of whom were fiercely against its portrayal of gay men. Those divisive sentiments were targeted at the film as well which was memorable for also including the c-word (considered the first for an American film) and being one of the first American movies to entirely centre around gay characters, becoming a milestone in “queer cinema”.
Remembered for its caustic wit and savage putdowns, Crowley adapted his own play for the screen, bringing his acerbic speeches and cutting one liners to cinema audiences who were witnessing these memorable characters for the first time. Making the transition from stage to screen were actors including Kenneth Nelson, Peter White and Leonard Frey who form part of the group of men celebrating one of their friend’s birthdays. As the drink flows and the drunken backbiting begins to get more fierce, intimate anxieties and past scars are revealed.
One of Friedkin’s films that the director has said he still watches, The Boys In The Band has been described by Time Out as one possessing a “truthfulness … not as a coming-out drama but as a keyhole into the lives of already-confident outsiders”.
Second Sight’s new UK Blu-ray includes features looking at the film, the play it was based on and its cultural impact and resonance in the years since it first caused controversy. There is also a commentary track from Friedkin and Crowley.
The Boys In The Band arrives on Blu-ray from Second Sight on November 12.