Who could have guessed that a bunch of men in dresses would breath life into the movement to win equal rights for gay men and lesbians? Certainly not the police who raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular "drag" bar in Greenwich Village. After a long history of police raids, extortion, and brutality, a gaggle of drag queens at the Stonewall decide they have had enough and begin to riot when the police try to load them into a paddy wagon. Told by "La Miranda" (Hector), a regular customer at the Stonewall Inn, the film is a recounting of events that led up to that fateful day in 1969. "Matty Dean" is the handsome angry young man that La Miranda meets at the Stonewall one day and with whom she/he quickly falls in love. "Bostonia" is the self-styled Queen Mother of the drag queens and guides each initiate gently "into the life." Her lover, Vinnie, is the closeted proprietor of the Stonewall. His tragic response to the suffocation he feels bearing down on him from a homophobic world -- perhaps... Written by
Mark Fleetwood <email@example.com>
Early in the film, there is a shot of a sign being posted that said "We homosexuals plead with our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the Village." This was an actual sign which was prominently and publicly posted outside the original Stonewall Inn in early summer 1969, about one month prior to the Stonewall Riots began. See more »
The picket at Independence Hall was a yearly event called the Annual Reminder. It took place every July 4 from 1965 to 1969. The Stonewall riots began June 28, earlier in the summer than the Annual Reminder. See more »
La Miranda, girl, why do you always put yourself though this?
Why, Princess Ernestine? It's for the sheer, irresistible goddamn glamour of it all.
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I have a great deal of admiration for this engaging effort to explain the roots of the modern gay rights movement, produced on a shoe-string by a director with an admirable sense of style, pacing, and resourcefulness. Though filtered through a distinctly British class-consciousness, it does a highly respectable job of catching the main trends in gay America from my not-quite-misspent youth.
Furthermore, it is candidly presented as a subjective, fictional account, mooting complaints like "the bus is too old," "no New York apartment is that big" and "the Stonewall bar never looked that clean."
Nonetheless, one small detail and one large item are egregiously wrong. The detail is the rather elementary fact that the Stonewall was never licensed; it was a "private" mob-run club. It was raided not because all cops are homophobes but because, in the absence of official licensing, gay bars were, in every sense, illegal. The scenes where Stonewall employees display great care about the liquor laws are ridiculous, since the bar operated outside the law.
The larger item is the failure to capture the sense of exhilaration that swept throught the country in 1969. This was the year men walked on the moon, the year of Woodstock, the year an X-rated gay-themed film ("Midnight Cowboy") won the "Best Picture" Oscar, and (biggest miracle of all to us New Yorkers) the year the Mets, long "lovable losers," won the World Series. Anything was possible, and gay people joined the party with enthusiasm.
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