THE BOYS IN THE BAND: (2020 on Netflix):This film is based on a play written by Mart Crowley, an American playwright who died earlier this year at age 84. He is best known for this ground breaking play which debuted off Broadway in 1968 and was made into a 1970 movie using mostly the cast of the stage play. I clearly remember being blown away by a then-shocking production of what would come to be known as the granddaddy of gay plays. The play is set in a New York apartment where a group of gay men are meeting for a birthday party. At the time, they would have been considered outcasts by many and criminals under laws then existing in many states. Now, fifty years later, the 2020 film version of The Boys In The Band is available on Netflix. But now, the play’s text feels far less daring. A year after The Boys in the Band debuted on stage, the Stonewall riots would usher in the gay liberation movement and bring some radical changes in people’s attitudes toward homosexuality. So it is best to think of this 2020 film as a historical glimpse of attitudes in the late 60s. At a birthday party in 1968 New York, a surprise guest and a drunken game leave seven gay friends trying to deal with who they are and with considerable guilt, shame and self-hatred. The author, Crowley, was clearly inspired and influenced by Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Barbara and I were so powerfully influenced by the 1970 movie that our evaluation of this 2020 version suffers. GRADE B
*An interesting bit of trivia I found in my research.
The title of the play/movie is a quote from an iconic Judy Garland movie: A Star is Born (1954):
“You’re singing for yourself and the boys in the band,”
The orginal 1970 cast with Matt Crowley
(Click on picture to get the 1970 trailer)