Cruising -- the Al Pacino / William Freidken thriller?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by chris larralde, Sep 5, 2001.

  1. chris larralde

    chris larralde Stunt Coordinator

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    With "French Connection I / II" about to hit the shelves, and "To Live an Die in LA" scheduled for a later date -- is there a chance that we'll see the release of one of his most controversial films, "Cruising" from 1980?
    I remember it being a very gripping thriller -- one of the few movies that "stayed" with me for a long time.
     
  2. Kenneth English

    Kenneth English Second Unit

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    Best thing to do is speak up at the Warner Chat on 10/2. I'm assuming they still hold rights to this one (the VHS I have is from Warner).
    BTW: Excellent movie. And you're right -- very disturbing. I'd love to here a Friedkin commentary on this one! [​IMG]
     
  3. chris larralde

    chris larralde Stunt Coordinator

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    Oh Yeah! I was just a kid sneaking around into movies when I saw it. Didn't even know what it was about -- wow, I wasn't prepared. I think that's one of the reasons I want to see it again. I also didn't "get" the ending. I'm hoping I can make better sense of it next time around.
     
  4. Norm

    Norm Cinematographer

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    I never got the ending, either.
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  5. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Producer

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    I re-watched part of this on the Encore Mystery! channel the other night. I own the VHS, a very ragged-looking transfer (though, to be fair, most of the grunge is intentional).
    An interesting failure, I think. It tackles very challenging and controversial material but doesn't quite know what to do with it. [Paul Sorvino looks abashed and humiliated throughout, as if he couldn't believe he was in such a movie.] Brian DePalma owned the rights to Gerald Walker's book at one point, but after various machinations lost them to Friedkin & Co., according to the new DRESSED TO KILL disc. Undaunted, DePalma made his own, much more successful "cruising" film, DTK.
    New York's gay community was up in arms over the film during and after its production and it died at the boxoffice, though time has been somewhat kind to it; one of the livelier reassessments was by the gay Canadian critic Robin Wood. If you live in NY, see for yourself what the fuss was all about; it's on a double bill with the equally dicey BAD LIEUTENANT next Tues and Wed, as part of Film Forum's "NYPD" series.
    [Watching it again, I couldn't help but wonder how many of the extras in the bar scenes, culled from the NY clubs for this 1980 film, were affected by the gathering plague that swept through the scene a year later. Not a cheerful thought, but anguish and anxiety are two of the film's key emotions].
    Though Friedkin has made relatively few films in his career it's interesting that two of them, this one and THE BOYS IN THE BAND, deal explicitly with homosexuality. Few "macho" directors can claim the same. There's a topic for a commentary track.
    And, hey, anyone read Walker's book? Is it any clearer than the film?
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  6. chris larralde

    chris larralde Stunt Coordinator

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    Very interesting. I didn't know DePalma had the rights to the film. Your observation about Paul Sorvino is also intriguing (I didn't realize he was in the film). I think I read somewhere that Pacino had divorced himself from the project as well.
    Now you've also got me curious about BAD LIEUTENANT. I've seen that on the shelves quite a few times but didn't know anything about it. I'll have to pick it up next time I see it.
    [Edited last by chris larralde on September 05, 2001 at 09:32 PM]
     
  7. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    I watched this film years ago and it made me so sick to my stomach, I had to shut it off numerous times. It is a film that is filled with negativity and death from start to finish. Once of my best friends, who is gay, refers to it "Pacino's piece of shit career move movie." I agree. [​IMG]
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  8. bill lopez

    bill lopez Second Unit

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    I remember goiing to the movies in 1980 to see this and I didn't know the Gay lifestyle was like this. In fact after seeing this movie I found out the Village People disco group was gay. When this movie appeared on pay t.v. I watched this again with a group of friends and it turned out to be a good movie to watch when your stoned. It's funny to see these tough looking men being gay and the sountrack really rocks! I still have the album and wish the cd was available. And after watching this movie around 10 times I figured out that the Al Pachino character starts the killing again at the end. The lifestyle got to him.
     
  9. chris larralde

    chris larralde Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree about the soundtrack! The Germs, one of my favorite bands from the early 80's LA punk scene, is on it.
    The film seems to attract strong reactions. Like the music in the movie, it represents a sub-genre but doesn't catagorize music or sex as a whole. The people who criticized the depiction of gays, did so because of its negative and narrow characterization ... but it DOES represent something that was based on reality. I don't think it's much different than a movie like "Sid and Nancy". One could argue that the film mis-represented all rock stars as drug addicted, self-destructive punks, but it doesn't -- it simply serves as a gritty setting for a tragic story. I view "Cruising" the same way, and correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it also loosely based on real events?
    I think it was a daring move for Freidkin. He seems to be the kind of director that likes to provoke responses and challenge his viewers. I think he accomplished both with "Cruising".
     
  10. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Producer

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    Whatever his motives were for appearing in the film, I doubt Pacino's were purely mercenary. "Start polishing Oscar--I'm playing a sexually conflicted cop who may or may not be a serial killer!" [​IMG]
    Wood's essay encouraged me to take a second look after I, too, found a first viewing hard to take. He notes that every relationship in CRUISING--gay, straight, parental, career-wise--is depicted as somehow tainted and perverse, an unusual and demanding POV for an American film, particularly one with a major star and director at the helm. It is indeed a bleak journey to undertake, but properly braced it offers certain grim rewards for the undeterred.
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  11. Anthony Thorne

    Anthony Thorne Supporting Actor

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    Friedkin mentioned in an interview a year or so ago that the release print of CRUISING was heavily cut, with a lot of explicit material removed. He said he was hoping to restore the footage as part of a Special Edition disc with commentary sometime. I've heard nothing about this since then. The original interview was featured on one of the main DVD review sites, I forget which...
     
  12. Kim Donald

    Kim Donald Stunt Coordinator

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    Back when I was young…I was so upset when "Cruising" came out that it might encourage more violence against the gay community. (I was living in Boston at the time and we had several gay attacks and killings in the park near where I lived) That at the end of the film I wrote a little note to the owners of the movie theater and cut a nice opening in the back of my seat and slipped the note in. Seeing it years later I thought the bar scenes caught the 80's Levi/Leather crowd right on.
    kd
     
  13. bill lopez

    bill lopez Second Unit

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    I remember this was going to come out on laserdisc, but then laserdisc died.
     
  14. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    I've never seen the film. But, I was living in N.Y.C. when it was shot. I watched some of the production. Etched in my memory too are several, rather large, demonstrations against the film before it was even finished! I would like to see it someday.
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