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The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.

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1,511 ( 509)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 57 wins & 137 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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John Briggs
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David Goodstein (as Zvi Howard Rosenman)
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Storyline

Using flashbacks from a statement recorded late in life and archival footage for atmosphere, this film traces Harvey Milk's career from his 40th birthday to his death. He leaves the closet and New York, opens a camera shop that becomes the salon for San Francisco's growing gay community, and organizes gays' purchasing power to build political alliances. He runs for office with lover Scott Smith as his campaign manager. Victory finally comes on the same day Dan White wins in the city's conservative district. The rest of the film sketches Milk's relationship with White and the 1978 fight against a statewide initiative to bar gays and their supporters from public school jobs. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

His life changed history. His courage changed lives. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

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Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Harvey Milk Project  »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,453,844 (USA) (28 November 2008)

Gross:

$31,838,002 (USA) (10 April 2009)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Veteran police officer and actor Brian Danker, seen in this movie in his first speaking role in the homicide scene, actually served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 in the same unit as Dan White - the 173rd Airborne. See more »

Goofs

The Chinese food containers look like old standard white containers, without the wire handles that would hold them together. Microwavable glued containers didn't exist until fairly recently. See more »

Quotes

McConnely: There's Man's Law and there's God's Law in this neighborhood.
Harvey Milk: Uh huh.
McConnely: And in this city.
Scott Smith: You know, we pay taxes!
McConnely: The San Francisco Police Force is happy to enforce either. Have a good day.
[leaves]
Harvey Milk: [calling after him] Yeah, thank you for the warm welcome to the neighborhood!
[to Scott]
Harvey Milk: Schmuck.
See more »

Connections

References The Boys in the Band (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

The Player
Written by Allan Wayne Felder (as Alan Felder) and Norman Harris
Performed by First Choice
Courtesy of Brookside Music Corp. o/b/o Philly Groove Records, Inc.
By Arrangement with Reid Whitelaw Productions
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Everything comes together in this one
18 November 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Let's get one thing out of the way. Is it entertaining? And how! Sean Penn's best performance to date – Oscar quality; Emile Hirsch riotously perfect (best "supporting?"); James Franco heartbreaking; Diego Luna, devastating; Josh Brolin, flawless. Not one false note in any of the actors – a very complicated story unfolds with absolute clarity. I will be seeing this one again just for the screenplay. I was very gratified that no attempt is made to be "delicate" about Harvey Milk's personality, either his sex life or his out-sized ego, which perhaps ironically for some, makes him all the more heroic. The finest "political" film I think I've ever seen. It does more than dramatize a strong true story, it captures convincingly the truth about a whole political movement. (One that's as freshly active as today's headlines: Prop 6 or Prop 8 — does it ever end?) There is an ease and familiarity to the "scene" — to the historical period and place — with very few, small anachronisms, as far as I could tell. This is also the most assured work of Gus Van Sant, a genuine film artist, who here delivers a complete drama with real visual style and brazen wit. The blending of documentary footage is the most seamless I can remember seeing anywhere. The crowd scenes are remarkable, and all of the location shooting miraculously right. For a couple of fast, fast hours, I felt as though I had spent a couple of days — hilarious, intense, inspiring days — immersed in 1970s San Francisco. This movie does what all movies should do. See it.


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