Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, catching up today with our reader correspondence.
A newcomer to our ranks, “movie reviews,” commented on one of director William Friedkin’s lesser known pictures, a 1970 big screen version of Mart Crowley’s drama, which opened off-Broadway in 1968, and ran for more than two years.
The Boys in the Band provoked some controversy at the time it opened since it directly addressed the culture and social interaction of a group of gay men engaged in a drunken party for one of their friends to which a heterosexual male is accidentally invited.
There are “verbal games” aplenty with barbs that turn from humorous to cutting and outright nasty. The play’s cast included the late Cliff Gorman and Laurence Luckinbill (since 1980, the husband of Lucie Arnaz, Lucille Ball’s daughter), and Crowley insisted that it be hired in intact for the movie version. Here’s what “movie reviews” has to say:
I was going through a box of movies, when I came across an old gay “Classic”, which I am sure a lot of you have probably seen. That movie is “The Boys In The Band.” Well, for me, it was my first time seeing it, and I really didn’t care for it.
Memo to “movie reviews” — why not?
Please be more expansive about why you didn’t like the picture. As mentioned, Boys may have been ahead of its time in the late Sixties. But a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then in terms of gay acceptance. We haven’t taken a look at the picture in quite a while but suspect it is already dated.
In his newly-published (and excellent; highly recommended) The Friedkin Connection — A Memoir (HarperCollins) — the director writes that he approached Crowley’s screen play as a love story, with humor and pathos. “The Boys in the Band” is a compassionate, insightful work, and I tried to understate its deeper social implications.
The movie opened to mixed reviews and lousy box office. Today, it’s generally regarded as a landmark film…I can still watch the film with pleasure, but at the time it was another box office failure, writes Friedkin.
Our July 4 blog, Fourth of July Movies That AREN’T “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” drew this comment from regular contributor, Mike Sheridan:
I did watch most of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” today, but another 4th favorite is “Ah Wilderness”… A supreme cast of Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Mickey Rooney and Aline MacMahon is about the coming of age of a young man in the summer of 1906. The picture is a great depiction of the turn of the century and is a must see.
Another regular contributor, Patricia Nolan-Hall (Caftan Woman), commented on our June 27 blog, Dick Van Dyke’s Little Brother, about Jerry Van Dyke. Her first reference is in answer to our query about three stars pictured in a photo with Jerry and Dick, the connection being that all came from the same home town of Danville, Illinois.
The other guys: Donald O’Connor, Bobby Short, Gene Hackman
Funny thing, a pal and I were talking about Jerry Van Dyke the other day. The pal had just been watching “The Judy Garland Show” and was mighty impressed with how funny Jerry was. I definitely agreed. Jerry can always crack me up. Most recently guesting on “The Middle”. I wonder what the boys were like as children, and if they drove their folks crazy.
Thanks all. As we have said many times, we love hearing from you. So please keep those cards, letters, emails, tweets and facebook notations coming our way.