Friday, June 8, 2012

Pride: Torch Song Trilogy (1988)

The first movie I remember seeing that showed me gay characters that seemed "real" was TORCH SONG TRILOGY, from 1988. There had been gay movies before that....I remember seeing I think it was called THE BOYS IN THE BAND which was about gay men in pre-Stonewall New York. They hated each other and themselves. It was a very depressing movie, and as a college student I had yet to meet anybody resembling any of those men! I also remember a movie called MAKING LOVE which starred two of my favorite TV actors, Michael Ontkean and Kate Jackson. But it was a soap opera with a gay twist, and I remember when I finally saw it thinking, "this is stupid." 
However, I was in Japan by the time I saw TORCH SONG TRILOGY. It was one of the rental videos at my local shop in my little country town. I had never heard of it, but I *had* heard of Mattew Broderick and Anne Bancroft. So I gave it a try.

I am very glad that I did.

There is one make-out session (and by that I mean a kiss or two). Other than that it is sex-free. It is just about a guy looking and sounding like Harvey Fierstein trying to find love in New York City.

It's a comedy, but it was based on a Tony-award winning play, so there are moments of drama, too.

Basically, Arnold (Fierstein) comes to grips with his own homosexuality while fighting his mother (Bancroft), falling in love with male model Alan (Broderick) and trying to be friends (or more) with a man who can NOT come to grips with his homosexuality (Brian Kerwin). It actually sounds totally *gay* when I write it up that way, so let's try it this way:

Basically, Arnold tries to find happiness in New York while fighting with his mother, who has her own dreams for him. He falls in and out of love with various characters before finding acceptance with himself.

Sounds pretty normal, right?

Harvey Fierstein is now a celebrity, but this was his first major movie, based on the play that he also wrote and peformed on Broadway. He won a Tony for Best Play in 1983. He then won a Tony for Best Actor for his role in HAIRSPRAY. And if you've never heard his voice on cartoons (such as on The Simpsons) you aren't a student of pop culture.

This is a wonderful movie. If you have not seen it, I totally recommend it. Some of the scenes hopefully are dated....others, like not loving yourself for who you are, or gay people being victims of hate, are unfortunately, NOT.

Screenplay by Harvey Fierstein.
Directed by Paul Bogart.

Here's the trailer to help whet your appetite more.


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