William Friedkin pushed the envelope during the tale end of the 70’s when filming a film about a cop that goes deep undercover in the popular underground gay leather bars. Al Pacino stars in this film as Steve Barnes, a rookie patrol cop that gets assigned to frequent the seedy bars of NYC in order to perhaps bait a maniac that is whipping one gay man after the next.
of all I want to mention that although I am not an expert, I still imagine
that William Friedkin did his absolute best to emulate the homosexual
subculture and the activities that went on in these places. A lot of
research and hands on expertise by former policeman Randy Jergenson
who plays Lieutenant Lefronsky in the film inspired Gerald Walker to
pen the novel “Cruising”. Jergenson actually arrested a similar
killer to the man in this film and the actual guy he arrested made a
cameo in William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist”. How is that
Pacino does a great job and in my opinion Steve Barnes is his most subdued
character to date. You can just see that he is in the dark when it comes
to the darker side of gay culture and I think it helps his character
when he’s placed in these scenarios. What helps his character is the
amount of talent that shows up in this film that includes Powers Booth
in a memorable scene where he tells Barnes what the different
bandana colors symbolize in the leather bars. When he says yellow is
for golden showers I lost it! Joe Spinell shows up in about 4 scenes
as a crooked cop/ women hating cruiser, Ed O’Neil (“Married With
Children”) pops up as a detective, James Remar is in the shortest
shorts you’ll ever see in an intense scene with Pacino and Paul Sorvino
plays a refreshing far from cliché cop Capt. Edelson, the man that
Burns has to report to. Karen Allen (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”)
plays Burns love interest and she is just always likable. Any detective
would want to go home to her.
movie is definitely original in its visual storytelling approach. The
identity of the killer is often switched and most viewers should be
confused. The film is rather vague and the ending is completely ambiguous.
Are there multiple red herrings or is the killer that seems like he
really is the guy the killer? The film leaves it up to you to ask the
questions during many scenes in the film and an ending that create so
many theories involving the death of Don Scardino’s character Ted
I enjoyed the fact that the
film is orchestrated with many elements that include sleaze, thriller
intrigue, a couple of slasher style kills, confusing storytelling and
its authenticity. This movie doesn’t say what all gay people are but
it does show what the atmosphere was like in the homosexual hot spots.
Al Pacino has sincere moments with actor Don Scardino that show he is
not your typical gay bashing cop. His character Steve Barns is human
and well layered. Steve Barns becoming a cruising homosexual isn’t
a walk in the park. He has to blend in, seem legit and work out in order
to attract the man he is trying to catch.
are lots of memorable scenes that are humorous and others are extremely
violent. The funny scene most worth talking about is a scene that involves
a jock strap sporting cop in a cowboy hat slapping Pacino’s character
around to sell that he’s not a cop in the middle of interrogation
involving a few officers and lead suspect at the moment Skip Lee (Jay
Acovone). This guy’s reaction along with Al Pacino’s is golden.
The darkest kill is the first one shown and it’s an S&M style
back stabbing that truly felt wrong because how innocent the character
was. He was just trying to score and he dies violently by a mysterious
mad man. The grossest scene is one of the leather bar scenes that shows
a man preparing fist lube and then his tunnel project orgasmic reaction.
are all done by knife so slasher fans rejoice unless you’re too close
minded to watch this exploitation flick that was inspired by True Crime.
The film pushes buttons but is matter of fact in its approach and it
will leave you scratching your head. If you want some insight by the
director himself check out the 2 featurettes on the DVD. I love William
Friedkin because he offers so much of his experiences for the listeners
of his commentaries and the viewers of his interviews. This guy isn’t
greedy with his techniques, inspiration or the trivia of his films.
my opinion this is one of the most controversial films of the 80’s
that actually had balls. Great characters, absorbing story, plenty of
indistinct moments and uncompromising direction by the genuine article
William Friedkin. Personally this is my favorite film because I like
sleaze, horror, New York City and most of all originality. This film
is inspired by truth but Friedkin made it mysterious, didn’t hide
the homosexuality and made something that few other directors would
dare to make. “Cruising” is a four star Bloodtype Online classic
without a doubt in my mind and it’s one of my favorite DVD’s I own!
Rating - ****