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It's Harold's birthday, and his closest friends throw him a party at Michael's apartment. Among Harold's presents is "Cowboy", since Harold may have trouble finding a cute young man on his own now that he's getting older. As the party progresses the self-deprecating humor of the group takes a nasty turn as the men become drunker. Climaxed by a cruel telephone "game" where each man must call someone and tell him (or her?) of his love for them. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Upon first viewing this film, about a year ago (having wanted to see it for some time), I thought it was not only very depressing, but also painfully dated. A group of gay men get together for a birthday, and an unexpected (presumably straight) guest shows up, igniting hostility amongst the others. The fashions, viewpoints and technical delivery all seemed a wee bit stagnant.
Having recently rewatched this film, I can say that my opinion of it has changed considerably. Though the look of the film, is indeed characteristic of the time period, and the fashions are also passe, the characters are anything but obsolete. These people and their bitter mentalities continue to exist today, both in and out of the "gay community". In some ways this movie does play like a gay version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", with it's host turning the unassuming party into a game of "get the guests" (to use a phrase from VW). The script by Mart Crowley is sharp with stinging one-liners and thoughtful observations. There are some high comic moments in this film, but the latter half of it mellows down and keeps the level low, for the most part. The clausterphobic sets also add to the proceedings.
Kenneth Nelson, as the ringleader, Michael, is vibrant and really over-the-top almost. He is met in his venomousness by Leonard Frey as Harold. While it's amusing to watch them going at each other's throats, I feel that Larry Luckinbill and Keith Prentice are the more interesting of the actors, playing a couple, each of whom is very different from the other. Cliff Gorman is wild as the flamboyant Emory...his is probably the most stereotyped character of the lot, but he plays it with a good degree of dimension and sincerity, different then some of the lispy one-dimensional gay stereotypes seen in films up to that time. The other actors are also in good form, but I felt that Peter White's Alan, is a bit of a nuisance. I guess his dead-pan expressions, and generally confused look was needed for the part.
If you're a fan of "gay film", I would seek this one out as required viewing. It ranks high in my Top Five for that genre. A very solid piece of film making, and acting especially. Hardly as dated as it may seem.
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