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Longtime Companion (1989)

The emergence and devastation of the AIDS epidemic is chronicled in the lives of several gay men living during the 1980s.



Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen Caffrey ...
Tanya Berezin ...
Office Manager
Michael Piontek ...
Office Worker
Joyce Reehling ...
Office Worker
Mark Lamos ...
Soap Opera Reader


Perhaps the first film to put a human face on the AIDS epidemic, Longtime Companion follows the lives of a small circle of friends from the first mention of the disease in the New York Times in 1981. First referred to as "Gay-Related-Immune-Disorder," we watch the effect of the disease as it devastates the lives of our protagonists. Jumping between Manhattan and Fire Island, vignettes carry us from the it-couldn't-happen-to-me mentality of the early days of the disease to the invasive effect it has had on all of our lives, today. The title of the film comes from the New York Times' refusal to acknowledge homosexual relationships in their obituary section during this period. Instead, survivors were referred to as "Longtime Companions" of the deceased. Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 May 1990 (Portugal)  »

Also Known As:

Dugogodišnji prijatelj  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)


$4,609,953 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title refers to the only way that newspapers at the time would allow a gay man's lover to be listed in an obituary. See more »


In the opening scene set in July 1981, a character plays a tape of The Human League's song "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of". However, this song was not released until October 1981 when it appeared on the band's album "Dare". See more »


Michael: I love my ears. I love my nose. I love myself.
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Featured in After Stonewall (1999) See more »


Do You Wanna Funk
Written by Patrick Cowley and Sylvester
Performed by Sylvester
Published by Masculine Music & Sequins at Noon Music
Courtesy of Megatone Records
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User Reviews

thankfully avoids the pitfalls of melodrama
2 December 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The title is the newspaper obituary euphemism for a gay lover, and yet another discreet but frustrating reminder of how mainstream heterosexual society avoids confronting the AIDS epidemic. In an effort perhaps to offset public ignorance, Norman René's film of the same name almost resembles an AIDS awareness primer, dramatizing the deadly progress of the disease through the gay community since the summer of 1981, when 'safe sex' merely meant anything goes, but don't get caught. Like other American Playhouse productions the film is simple, unpretentious, and no less rewarding for being so straightforward. René and writer Craig Lucas have wisely resisted the temptation to make a 'Love Story'-style terminal illness melodrama, concentrating instead on the bittersweet pain and bravery of awkward hospital visitations and quiet deathbed encounters. Only the forced optimism of the final daydream rings false, unavoidably since the epidemic itself (still) has yet to be resolved by anything resembling a cure. The balance of the film is simply too honest to support such sentimental wish-fulfillment fantasies.

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