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Dark Matters: The Films of William Friedkin

Sunday, September 15, 2013
5:00 p.m. The Boys in the Band
William Friedkin (U.S., 1970)

It’s Harold’s (Leonard Frey) birthday and Michael (Kenneth Nelson) is hosting the soiree in his Village digs, right around the corner from Stonewall. Opening off Broadway in 1968, Mart Crowley’s play was groundbreaking but it was also heartbreaking as his gathering of vain closet queens turns nasty, then nastier. Claustrophobically staged inside a single apartment, the bitchy repartee of these “nellies” and “faggots” sends the party boys screaming for the darker corners. Male hysteria is all dressed up with nowhere to go in Friedkin’s reluctant revelry, suggesting that when the closet door is finally flung open, the first thing out is self-loathing.

—Steve Seid

• Written by Mart Crowley, from his play. Photographed by Arthur J. Ornitz. With Kenneth Nelson, Leonard Frey, Cliff Gorman, Reuben Green. (118 mins, Color, 35mm, From Hollywood Classics)