A landmark in gay cinema finally gets the Blu-ray treatment with William Friedkin’s Boys in the Band making its HD debut. Based on the Broadway show by Mart Crowley (who also adapts the play for the big screen), the original cast reprises their roles in this razor-sharp drama that still leaves an impact nearly 50 years on from its release.
The premise remains unchanged, a group of gay friends meet up to celebrate a birthday, but as the night progresses the drinks are flowing as swiftly as the revelations and insults. Keeping much of the setting the same as the play, most of the story unfolds at the party in a modest apartment in New York City. The party games come out, but behind the jests and bittersweet conversations are the fragile lives of a group of men struggling to find joy in the world they live.
There is no denying that The Boys in the Band is a product of its time, the 70s were a less enlightened era, it serves as a stark reminder of how far we’ve come in the last 48 years. Receiving an X certificate upon its original release, the film is also home to the first motion picture to use the C-word multiple times, its subject matter and profanity might seem tame before modern standards, but it caused waves of controversy at the time.
Naturally, Friedkin’s film remains controversial to this day for the way it represents homosexual men, some argue it’s full of broad stereotypes that continue to marginalise gay men, others praised it for its authenticity. Whether you agree with the former or latter, I think most audiences would agree that it was a bold film to make at a time when gay cinema wasn’t in the mainstream, and it certainly helped open the doors for more diverse stories to be told. The play continues to resinate today and to celebrate its 50 anniversary last year, a new production was staged that featured Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Andrew Rannells in the cast. Fully loaded with new special features including commentary, interviews with Mark Gatiss & Ian Hallard, and an insightful retrospective of the play. The Boys in the Band is out now on Blu-ray.