149 user 123 critic

Cruising (1980)

1:30 | Trailer
A police detective goes undercover in the underground S&M gay subculture of New York City to catch a serial killer who is preying on gay men.


William Friedkin


William Friedkin, Gerald Walker (novel)
4,406 ( 581)
5 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

More Like This 

Sorcerer (1977)
Adventure | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Four unfortunate men from different parts of the globe agree to risk their lives transporting gallons of nitroglycerin across dangerous South American jungle.

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A fearless Secret Service agent will stop at nothing to bring down the counterfeiter who killed his partner.

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Bobby Deerfield, a famous American race car driver on the European circuit, falls in love with the enigmatic Lillian Morelli, who is terminally ill.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Al Pacino, Marthe Keller, Anny Duperey
Scarecrow (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Max, an ex-con drifter with a penchant for brawling is amused by Lion, a homeless ex-sailor, and they partner up as they head east together.

Director: Jerry Schatzberg
Stars: Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, Dorothy Tristan
Sea of Love (1989)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A detective investigating a series of murders becomes involved with a woman who may be the culprit.

Director: Harold Becker
Stars: Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, John Goodman
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Follows the lives of heroin addicts who frequent "Needle Park" in New York City.

Director: Jerry Schatzberg
Stars: Al Pacino, Kitty Winn, Alan Vint
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Two symbiotic sociopaths play obscurely deviant mind games with each other while engaging in perversely brutal acts of violence against victims apparently chosen at random.

Director: David F. Wheeler
Stars: Al Pacino, Paul Guilfoyle, Joseph Maher
Revolution (1985)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

A trapper and his young son get pulled into the American revolution early as unwilling participants and remain involved through to the end.

Director: Hugh Hudson
Stars: Al Pacino, Donald Sutherland, Nastassja Kinski
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Tempers fray and true selves are revealed when a heterosexual is accidentally invited to a homosexual party.

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Kenneth Nelson, Peter White, Leonard Frey
Rampage (1987)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Liberal district attorney decides to seek the death penalty for a man who slaughtered a family at Christmastime, then drank their blood. He escapes, though, and starts killing again.

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Michael Biehn, Alex McArthur, Nicholas Campbell
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A lawyer is forced to defend a guilty judge, while defending other innocent clients, and trying to find punishment for the guilty and provide justice for the innocent.

Director: Norman Jewison
Stars: Al Pacino, Jack Warden, John Forsythe
Two Bits (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

It's a hot summer day in 1933 in South Philly, where 12-year old Gennaro lives with his widowed mom and his ailing grandpa, who sits outside holding tight to his last quarter, which he's ... See full summary »

Director: James Foley
Stars: Al Pacino, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Jerry Barone


Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Pacino ... Steve Burns
Paul Sorvino ... Capt. Edelson
Karen Allen ... Nancy
Richard Cox ... Stuart Richards
Don Scardino ... Ted Bailey
Joe Spinell ... Patrolman DiSimone
Jay Acovone ... Skip Lee
Randy Jurgensen ... Det. Lefransky
Barton Heyman ... Dr. Rifkin
Gene Davis ... DaVinci
Arnaldo Santana Arnaldo Santana ... Loren Lukas
Larry Atlas Larry Atlas ... Eric Rossman
Allan Miller ... Chief of Detectives
Sonny Grosso Sonny Grosso ... Det. Blasio
Ed O'Neill ... Det. Schreiber (as Edward O'Neil)


A serial killer brutally slays and dismembers several gay men in New York's S&M and leather districts. The young police officer Steve Burns is sent undercover onto the streets as decoy for the murderer. Working almost completely isolated from his department, he has to learn and practice the complex rules and signals of this little society. While barely seeing his girlfriend Nancy anymore, the work starts changing him. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Al Pacino is Cruising for a killer.


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



West Germany | USA



Release Date:

15 February 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

William Friedkin's Cruising See more »


Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Two of the notorious gay bars featured in the film - Mine Shaft and Eagle's Nest - eventually barred William Friedkin. See more »


The close up of the last body, you can clearly see his heartbeat in his neck for a few seconds. See more »


Nancy Gates: Why don't you want me anymore?
Steve Burns: What I'm doing is affecting me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film only opens with the title in large letters, across the screen. It is only at the end where the filmmakers are credited. See more »

Alternate Versions

UK cinema and 1987 video versions were cut by 54 secs by the BBFC. The 1997 Maverick Directors video release was cut by 39 seconds to remove subliminal shots of anal sex during the murder scenes (one of which appears in the film though heavily darkened) and to edit a pan shot of a gay bar interior and shots of a knife being traced over a bound victims body. Although the uncut version was shown by Sky TV the film was resubmitted to the BBFC in 2003 for a FilmFour showing and many cuts were restored apart from a 1 sec edit to remove the subliminal shots. For the initial release on UK DVD in 2008 all the cuts were waived. See more »


Lions Share
Performed by The Germs
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

One of the first great horror films of the 80s
28 June 2009 | by tonymurphyleeSee all my reviews

A deranged serial killer is on the loose and is killing patrons of gay S&M clubs. Officer Steve Burns(Al Pacino) is chosen by the chief of police to go undercover as a gay male and find this mad man. The idea of going undercover, to Burns, at first sounds simple enough. However, this new bizarre world he has become a part of slowly begins to affect his mind and his psyche as he begins to question many things about himself and what he thought that he was before. Before he was simply just playing a role, but soon his work completely takes over his life as he becomes a part of the gay underground world.

William Friedkin's early-80s shocker, CRUISING, has been called one of the most despicable and offensive films ever to be put out by a major motion picture studio. It's been voted as one of the most homophobic films ever made, along with Paul Verhoeven's trash classic BASIC INSTINCT and Gaspar Noe's experimental revenge thriller IRREVERSIBLE. While I can certainly understand where the hatred for this film is coming from, I still find it to be a very effective and haunting piece of film-making.

I found the scenes involving Al Pacino at the clubs to be so full of realism and so raw that, at times, it was difficult to watch. These scenes are where the true horror of the film come to life. So much of what he sees disturbs him and, indeed, it disturbs us as well. The several glimpses of public sex(oral sex, anal sex, fisting, BDSM, etc) in these leather clubs are stomach churning in how different the world of these places are to everyday life.

The whole film is quite disturbing and fascinating to watch all the same, but the explicit nature of the scenes, as well as Al Pacino's reaction to them, give the film a real documentary-like sense of realism. The scenes in which the serial killer strikes are equally disturbing in their realism. They come off extraordinary in the blunt and heartless way they are shown. The fact that multiple frames of gay pornography are spliced into the gory violence further makes clear the idea of the knife penetrating the body and, at the same time, will probably raise a few eyebrows from many folks who are offended at such gestures.

Indeed, this is definitely a film that tends to be gleefully tasteless at times. I am certainly not surprised that many folks found the film so offensive. The gay lifestyle is not depicted in a particularly positive light. Most of the gay characters in the film are either perverted, violent, rude, or insane. The sole gay character who seems to be a shining light of purity is Pacino's neighbor in the film, Ted Bailey (Don Scardino) a rather young and sweet-natured writer who is terrified of the leather bars. Ted is the one lamb in the crowd of vicious billy goats, so to speak.

Despite the Ted character and despite the raw visual style of the film, the scenes of actual police procedure come of a tad weak when juxtapose with the scenes in the leather bars. While they do have just as much an uncanny realism to them as the undercover scenes, they feel a bit lifeless and ugly. In addition, Karen Allen in the role of Pacino's wife comes off slightly overshadowed alongside the other bizarre and interesting characters in the film. Despite this, however, she does help make the climax of the film far more terrifying and shocking.

Despite the homophobia and despite the flaws, CRUISING is a fascinating film. It remains one of the darkest and most challenging mainstream films I've ever seen. I loved the realism of the film and I loved how shocking the last hour was in particular. It is definitely a film that works! While I can't say that I would be able to fully stomach a second viewing, I can safely say that it is a film that will affect you whether you love it or hate it. You will not forget this film very easily.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 149 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed