On August 12th, 2011 I posted a brief review the groundbreaking gay film, “The Boys in the Band” starring Kenneth Nelson and Peter White. The 1970 movie was based on the 1960s hit off-Broadway play by Mart Crowley titled, you guessed it, “The Boys in the Band“. The movie starred all – or almost all – of the original stage cast.
The Amazon film synopsis for the adapted for the screen movie:
“A sensitive yet humorous adaptation of the stage play, this 1970 film directed by William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) is one of the first films to openly address gay issues in a matter-of-fact style that largely avoids stereotyping. Shot on one set and featuring a birthday party as the festive setting, a group of friends assemble to celebrate, reminisce, and discuss their lives and the travails of being gay, even as one friend insists he’s straight. The night turns from a light celebration to a sometimes-vindictive ordeal of revelation and betrayal, as each man in turn must confess his true feelings. Performed by the original cast of the stage production, the film may feel dated to some, but it still manages to be truthful and entertaining as it explores a subject that to this day is not often addressed. –Robert Lane”
The movie was really the first to be presented o a mainstream audience when it hit the big screen with a focus on some gay characters that were not the overt stereotypes of “gay” that had, to that date, been depicted on film when gays were depicted openly at all. It was a true turning point in cinema.
In November of 2011, First Run Features produced the documentary film, Making the Boys, which is about the making of the movie version of The Boys in the Band. The documentary was directed by Crayton Robey (Divided We Stand) and it stars a cast of many in commentary including: Edward Albee, Mart Crowley, Dominick Dunne, William Friedkin (the director of the original movie), Carson Kressley (Queer Eye For The Straight Guy), Tony Kushner, Terrence McNally, and Robert Wagner (multitudes of movie and TV credits) among others.
This documentary is an entertaining, 90 minute look at the making of a movie that, by today’s standards, wouldn’t even make news but that was earth shaking and controversial at the time. Don’t get me wrong, Making the Boys does not feel dated. Instead, it brings context to the time period in which the play and then the movie ran. If you’re young, and not up on the history of the gay rights movement, there are some things here that will be a revelation to you. If you’re older and/or acquainted with our collective LGBT history, this will still be an entertaining and informative supplement to a great film.