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Cruising Is Back, but the Crowds are Calmer

In sharp contrast to the negative reaction
it garnered from gay audiences during its initial 1980 run, the William Friedkin-directed
thriller Cruising was warmly received
by the crowd during a recent screening at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

In an interview before the show, Friedkin recalled, "It was made after
Stonewall, when the gay rights movement was beginning to be recognized and to
make political gains. I could see why
some people felt like it was not the way to put the best foot forward at the
time, but I also felt I had the right to make a movie, not a political

Then film critic Frank Rich, in his 1980 Time Magazine
of Cruising, warned that “the
simulation of S-M couplings will appall many moviegoers of all sexual
persuasions” but said the film was “not antigay, any more than a film like
American Gigolo is anti-heterosexual.”

The New York Times reported in August of 1979 that during
filming, gay activists staged angry demonstrations, “huge and noisy, filled
with shouting, bell-ringing and noise-making, as homosexuals sought to ‘raise
the consciousness’ of the filmmakers.” 

There was also controversy over the film’s rating, as described in a
Times article on July 8th of the following year. A San Diego theater filed a civil suit in
Federal court, charging Friedkin et al. with misrepresenting the film to earn
it an R rating, when it rightfully deserved an X.

"What went on at the time was ridiculous,” said
screening attendee Jean Paul Rimes. “It
was from a bunch of people who hadn’t even seen the movie.”

Beginning on September 7th,
the film will play for a short time in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco
prior to its DVD release on September 18th.

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