Benson is a police detective. After a series of murders in the Gay community he is ordered to go undercover with a gay police clerk named Kerwin as his partner. In order to be noticed they have to be flamboyant enough to attract attention which Benson finds rather disturbing. Can an uptight heterosexual and a mousey homosexual form a meaningful relationship? Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Done with a much lighter touch than Cruising, Partners operates on the same plot premise with the police looking for a serial killer of gay men. Only it's two undercovers that are sent in by the chief played by Kenneth McMillan. One is Detective Sergeant Ryan O'Neal from LAPD homicide. The other is an officer down in records played by John Hurt.
I recently wrote an article about a man I knew back in the 80s who had been a McCarthyite victim because he was gay and fit all the stereotypes. Hurt's character is the same, he operates quietly and unobtrusively no doubt seething inside over the stupid homophobic comments made in front of him. When McMillan picks him for the assignment he feigns surprise.
So the two go undercover in a gay area as a couple and start to mix and mingle. It's actually O'Neal who discovers there's a serial killer that the regular homicide cops missed. That's because he is a cop first and foremost as hard as he is trying to overcome his preconceived notions about gays.
O'Neal and Hurt are fine in the leads. O'Neal looks every bit the hunk he plays. Hurt has the more difficult role and carries it off beautifully.
I was very moved by the other reviewer who identified himself as coming from Bible Belt America and how he saw Partners much differently than LGBT people from the coasts. Sometimes the stereotypes might have been over the top in this and other films, but they validated his existence. I can truly relate to that because in the 60s when I was growing up I had even fewer entertainment role models than he probably had.
Some of the gags misfire and some of the stereotypes are over the top. But Partners is a film with some real relevancy.
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