Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks - Friendship

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

"Friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship
When other friendships are soon forgot, ours will still be hot!"

Yes, our theme on this week's episode of Thursday Movie Picks is Friendship. An apropos topic for me this week, as I just returned from a long weekend vacation with friends in Provincetown, MA. For those of you who don't know, P-Town is the very last city on the very tip of Cape Cod, and has long been a destination especially for gay men. It may have been the weekend before the "season" officially kicks off, but we all had a blast, and I had a lot of fun going on my first true friends-only vacation. So in honor of my friends, I have chosen the following movies about gay friend groups this week.

The Boys in the Band (William Friedkin, 1970) Gay culture pretty much started here, didn't it? The original gaggle of gay friends, Michael, Donald, Emory, Hank, Larry, Bernard, and Harold, are the quintessential catty group of gay BFFs. But in 1968, when the story takes place, one year before the Stonewall riots, LGBT people were still not "out". At least, not in the way we would think of as being "out". A lot of gay men I know find this to be VERY dated, but I still see it as an important piece of queer history: This is very much a time capsule of a specific group of people in a specific time and place, and it has a lot of value as such. But it still encapsulates how a LOT of gay men feel - full of joy and pride, but also confusion and pain.

Love! Valour! Compassion! (Joe Mantello, 1997) Very nearly an update of Boys in the Band to the mid-90s, this adaptation of Terrence McNally's play follows eight friends as they make visits to Fire Island during one summer. It's funny and affecting in equal measure, and a lot more good-natured than its '70s predecessor. But then, it takes place in a world where gay men were becoming more accepted, and where they had less reason to stay hidden. Of all three films I've picked today, this one is the least remembered, and I think that's not quite as it should be. It's a lovely film, with a great cast and a gorgeous script adapted by McNally himself.

The Broken Hearts Club (Greg Berlanti, 2000) A bit dated now thanks to its reliance on the trend-obsessed West Hollywood culture of the late '90s, Broken Hearts Club is fun, formulaic... and a little bit offensive to gay men, even though it's written and directed by a gay man and is about gay men! The characters' oft-stated ideal is to be as straight-acting as possible. Which... I mean, most of the main cast members are straight (including Dean Cain, Zach Braff, Timothy Olyphant, and Ben Weber), and are completely unafraid of playing up the more femme qualities some gay men have. But still, I have a huge soft spot for this movie, and for swoon-worthy Timothy Olyphant in it.


  1. I’d love to see all 3! I think, when a film is called “dated” we don’t look at the film at the time is was placed in cinemas. If we look at it from today’s view, many films are dated but it is important to look at it from that t8me period.

  2. A theme within the theme!! Love those!

    I've seen all three and while I can't say any are favorites all are worth seeing.

    Boys is very dated in its look, by necessity, and attitudes by the winds of change but its story is timeless. The cast is by and large very good. I saw if many years after it came out and by then there were factors that made a clean view difficult. Firstly it was a bit distracting that the actor who played Alan-Peter White-was Linc on All My Children for years and every time he was on screen that fact kept popping into my head! Then I had also read of the tragic trajectory of Robert La Tourneaux's-Cowboy Tex-life. I'd love to see the current Broadway production to see how they've updated and reworked the play.

    Speaking of plays I saw the stage version of Love, Valour, Compassion shortly before I saw the film and the movie suffered in comparison. Perhaps it was the immediacy of the theatre that made the picture feel a bit stilted and awkward but it didn't move me the way the first did.

    It's been years since I watched Broken Hearts Club and my memory is somewhat vague. I liked it but wasn't bowled over-though the cast is certainly easy on the eye.

    Since the choices are vast this week I went with three favorites that are all about female friendship.

    The Women (1939)-Wealthy happily married Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) spends her days in the company of a circle of equally well-heeled women friends whose main distraction is gossiping about each other. The worst offender is Mary’s cousin Sylvia Fowler (Rosalind Russell) a smiling Judas with a vicious streak. When Sylvia finds out at the beauty parlor that Mary’s husband is stepping out on her with a cheap piece of baggage named Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford) she makes sure Mary finds out protesting all the time she’s doing it for her own good. It’s off to Reno and back where new complications await Mary and her buddies both old and new. Witty comedy has an entirely female cast (down to the animals) and great dialog. Musicalized (pleasantly if unmemorably) in the 50’s as The Opposite Sex with Joan Collins stepping in for Crawford and shredded in 2008 with an abysmal redo.

    Old Acquaintance (1943)-Serious minded Kit Marlowe (Bette Davis) and flighty Millie Drake (Miriam Hopkins) have been best friends since college. Several years on Kit is now an acclaimed, respected but not terribly profitable authoress while Millie has married and is expecting a child. During a visit Millie confides to Kit that she’s written a book as well, a romance novel, which Kit passes along to her publisher and which becomes an enormous hit followed year after year by one frothy concoction after another making Millie fantastically rich and successful. However Millie remains envious of Kit as her marriage fails and her daughter turns to Kit as a mother figure and their friendship is strained but never breaks. High class soap opera was notorious at the time for the behind the scenes feud between Davis and talented but legendarily difficult Hopkins-a shameless upstager. At one point Davis had to shake Hopkins hard in a scene and when she finished the crew broke into applause!

    Beaches (1988)-On the Atlantic City beach in the 50’s child performer CC Bloom (Mayim Bialik) meets lost rich kid Hillary Whitney (Marcie Leeds) and they strike up what turns out to be a deep lifelong friendship as they grow up to be Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. Except for a brief break their kinship endures just about every obstacle under the sun leading to a teary conclusion. Though there is solid work from Lainie Kazan as Midler’s overbearing mother and John Heard as a director both women fall for this is Midler and Hershey’s show and their powerful chemistry carries the movie.

  3. I haven't seen any of these but now I want too. I'm glad you had fun on your vacation!

  4. The Boys in the Band - This is the only one I've heard about and only because the stage play stars have all been making guest appearances on the late night talk shows recently. I didn't know it had been a movie.