Cruising (1980): Friedkin’s Bold, Sleazy Sexual Thriller about Gay S&M Subculture, Starring Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen, Richard Cox

What on earth motivated the programmers of the Directors Fortnight series of the 2007 Cannes Film Fest to screen William Friedkin’s 1980 scandalous Cruising, a thriller about a serial killer set against New York’s gay S&M club scene?
Our grade: B- (**1/2 out of *****)
Was the event a launching pad for the film’s DVD release in September? Or perhaps wish to let international critics a chance to revisit the picture, which was not a commercial failure but was also not widely seen.

“Cruising” occupies one of the strangest positions in film history. A generation after its initial release, it has turned from a heated political controversy to a film that’s more of a cultural document reflecting its zeitgeist than one that bears genuine artistic merits.  The movie offers a bold, voyeuristic look at one pre-AIDS gay subculture, dominated by promiscuous fetishist sex, heavy drugs, and rock music.

Truth to tell, “Cruising” had never had a chance for fair play with either mainstream film critics or moviegoers. I have seen the film several times, including in Cannes last week, and my initial reaction has not changed. “Cruising” is a well crafted, highly problematic thriller, that couldn’t decide how seriously it wanted to be taken.  As a result, it signals as much sleaziness, voyeurism, and exploitation, as honorable intent to capture an emerging subculture.  “Cruising” belongs to a group of American films whose subtexts are more risque and more significant than their overt texts.

The movie IS significant from a career standpoint, since it may be the last honorable work by William Friedkin, once a Hollywood God (what with the Oscar-winning blockbusters “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist,” made back-to-back), before his precipitous decline in the l980s, from which he has never recovered.

I happen to be in San Francisco in the mid-1990s, when “Cruising” was shown at the art-revival house Roxy. I went to see it out of curiosity and afterwards I read Mick LaSalle’s piece about the film, which was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. To this day, La Salle’s article is one of the most perceptive ones written about “Cruising,” and the following analysis draws heavily on his piece.

Twenty-seven years after it was produced, “Cruising” still comes across as lurid, sleazy, and crude in the most positive and negative senses of these terms. What’s shocking is the film’s audacity for its times, since it was a mainstream studio movie. Looking back, “Cruising” is the kind of picture that could not have been made prior to 1980–or later.

You can dismiss Cruising as a slasher flick since its deals with a serial killer who frequents S&M sex clubs that were popular in the late 1970s. The murderer follows a pattern: He picks up handsome guys (who all look alike), ties them up and then kills them during sex, either in bed or in public, like Central Park. Boldly shot, the first killing, presented from the likable victim’s point of view, is agonizing to watch.

“Cruising” created a riot and uproar while shooting in New York City. Back then, I was a student at Columbia University and recall vividly the daily reportage about the production, in the gay and straight press. To the best of my knowledge, it’s still the only mainstream film to use the gay S&M underworld as a backdrop, and to depict it as a milieu that’s defined by threat and menace but also endless sexual possibility. Set in the promiscuous late 1970s, the age of sexual liberation (with gay and straight sex clubs), it’s a culture where a man could indulge in–and often fulfill– his wildest erotic fantasies (and nightmares).

In one of his least coherent, least comfortable performances, Al Pacino, then at the height of his career after the success of “The Godfather” movies and the Sidney Lumet’s policiers, plays a straight cop who goes undercover in pursuit of the killer. As LaSalle pointed out, Pacino plays a man on the other side of the looking glass trying to hang on to his hetero identity.

In the book upon which the movie is based, the main interest isn’t in the cop-and-killer saga, but in the hero’s mental state, in his “peculiar” attraction to the gay hardcore scene, which is repellent and shocking, yet alluring enough for him to be a peeping Tom.

In contrast to the gay sex scenes, Pacino’s sex scenes with his girlfriend (played by Karen Allen) are short, dull, and unfulfilling, though it’s telling that after each gay scene, there is a counter-hetero scene (as if to make sure that Pacino’s character is hundred percent hetero).

Midway, the movie reveals the killer’s identity. Tall and thin, he wears biker leather jacket, black boots, and dark glasses. A graduate student at Columbia, he’s writing his thesis on the roots of musical theater. Invading into the killer’s apartment, Pacino finds a shoebox full of unmailed letters by a son to his father, and the film makes the mistake of offering a semi-convincing Freudian psychological explanation to the killer’s deviant identity and aberrant conduct.

Nocturnal scenes of wild, animalistic cruising, heavy-duty sex, and brutal murders are alternated with the daylight world, a nicer milieu of the west Village.  Pacino is seen in coffee shops or walking down the street in with his friendly gay neighbor, Ted (Don Scardino), the only positive gay man in the picture.  Needless to say, the one “normal” gay man soon finds his death brutally, too.

And then comes the eerie finale, which may be the most memorable shot in the whole picture. It’s a chilling close-up of Pacino’s reflection in the mirror, while he’s shaving. You expect cuts and blood, but instead you get a haunted look.  It feels as if the mirror is staring back at him, with a good deal of ambiguity, both sexual and moral. What exactly is he thinking about?

After staring sadly at himself in a mirror, the glass fades away in a dissolve and Pacino’s sorrowful face is superimposed on New York’s tranquil harbor, bringing the film full circle to its beginning, where the hand of a corpse is found in the water.

The first time around, Cruising came out and disappeared rather quickly, though, contrary to popular notion, the movie was not a total flop; it grossed over $19 million at the box-office, a decent amount.

Nonetheless, caught between the emergence of gay activists, who protested the narrow depiction of their lives and the widespread homophobic reaction to the new lifestyle, Cruising eventually began to reappear and be talked about–as an underground video favorite.

And now it’s available for the first time on DVD.

Cast
Al Pacino as Steve Burns
Paul Sorvino as Captain Edelson
Karen Allen as Nancy Gates
Richard Cox as Stuart Richards
Don Scardino as Ted Bailey
Joe Spinell as Patrolman DiSimone
Jay Acovone as Skip Lee
Randy Jurgensen as Det. Lefransky
Barton Heyman as Dr. Rifkin
Gene Davis as DaVinci
Arnaldo Santana as Loren Lukas
Larry Atlas as Eric Rossman
Allan Miller as Chief of Detectives
Sonny Grosso as Detective Blasio
Edward O’Neil as Detective Schreiber
Michael Aronin as Detective Davis
James Remar as Gregory
William Russ as Paul Gaines
Mike Starr as Patrolman Desher
Leo Burmester as Water Sport
Henry Judd Baker as Tough Cop
Steve Inwood as Martino
Keith Prentice as Joey
Leland Starnes as Jack Richards
Powers Boothe as Hankie Salesman

Credits

Directed by William Friedkin
Produced by Jerry Weintraub
Screenplay by William Friedkin, based on Cruising by Gerald Walker
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography: James A. Contner
Edited by Bud S. Smith
Production company: CiP-Europaische Treuhand, Lorimar Film Entertainment
Distributed by United Artists
Release date: February 8, 1980
Running time: 102 minutes
Budget: $11 million
Box office: $19.8 million

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbsport.fitonbet88.oooi9bet.bizhi88.ooookvip.atf8bet.atfb88.cashvn88.cashshbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88