Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein re-creates his role as the unsinkable Arnold Beckoff in this film adaptation of the smash Broadway play TORCH SONG TRILOGY. A very ... See full summary »


Paul Bogart


Harvey Fierstein (play), Harvey Fierstein (screenplay)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Anne Bancroft ... Ma Beckoff
Matthew Broderick ... Alan Simon
Harvey Fierstein ... Arnold Beckoff
Brian Kerwin ... Ed Reese
Karen Young ... Laurel
Eddie Castrodad Eddie Castrodad ... David
Ken Page ... Murray
Charles Pierce Charles Pierce ... Bertha Venation
Axel Vera Axel Vera ... Marina Del Rey
Benji Schulman Benji Schulman ... Young Arnold Beckoff
Nick Montgomery Nick Montgomery ... Chorus Boy #1
Robert Neary ... Chorus Boy #2
Kim Clark Kim Clark ... Female Bar Patron #1
Stephanie Penn Stephanie Penn ... Female Bar Patron #2
Geoffrey Harding Geoffrey Harding ... Man with Lighter


Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein re-creates his role as the unsinkable Arnold Beckoff in this film adaptation of the smash Broadway play TORCH SONG TRILOGY. A very personal story that is both funny and poignant, TORCH SONG TRILOGY chronicles a New Yorker's search for love, respect and tradition in a world that seems not especially made for him. From Arnold's hilarious steps toward domestic bliss with a reluctant school teacher, to his first truly promising love affair with a young fashion model, Arnold's greatest challenge remains his complicated relationship with his mother. But armed with a keenly developed sense of humor and oftentimes piercing wit, Arnold continues to test the commonly accepted terms of endearment--and endurance--in a universally affecting story that confirms that happiness is well worth carrying a torch for. Written by Michael Braem

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It takes a lot of guts and a helluva sense of humor to live life in Arnold's shoes.


Comedy | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The address Arnold tells Alan is really the address of the La Mama theater, where Torch Song Trilogy was originally produced in its individual segments. See more »


Arnold hires a car service to take him and Ma to the cemetery, and the car is seen waiting for them. But when Ma storms off and leaves in the car, it's not the same driver that brought them to the cemetery. See more »


Arnold: What am I gonna do... with the beer can?
See more »


References Dames (1934) See more »


As Time Goes By
Written by Herman Hupfeld
See more »

User Reviews

They don't make 'em like this anymore....
19 December 2012 | by jasonshaw-331-946707See all my reviews

Harvey Fierstein started performing as a drag artist in Manhattan clubs from the age of 15; even before that age he knew he was just a bit different. He became widely known on the New York club circuit and was more often than not to be found playing drag roles in off off Broadway shows. Following a bad break-up Harvey set about writing a play detailing the difficult and painful experience, this became the play 'The International Stud' and was presented in New York during 1976. The play introduced the character of Arnold Beckoff to the world, writing a further two semi-autobiographical plays about Arnold's life. Eventually Harvey conjoined and amalgamated these three plays into just one, 'Torch Song Trilogy' which, had its stage debut off off Broadway in 1981, where it ran for almost 1230 performances.

Torch Song Trilogy was adapted from stage for cinema and came out in 1998, directed by Paul Bogart and not surprisingly starring Harvey as Arnold Beckoff. Also included in the cast were Brian Kerwin, sexy stunner Matthew Broderick, screen legend Anne Bancroft and infamous American female impersonator Charles Pierce.

The play version ran for over four hours, something not possible in film and thus many cuts, exclusions and edits had to be employed to bring it down to a studio demanded running time of two hours. Without wishing to ignore the onset of AIDS whilst also not wishing to alter the entire fabric of the story the time line of the movie was shifted back several years, started in 1971.

It is a deeply affecting film, emotional and funny to the extreme and yet it works marvellously well, which I am sure is thanks mainly to the authentic way Harvey tells it as Arnold. There are such wonderful moments, high drama, deep sadness and almost unbridled joy, that watching Torch Song Trilogy could be considered of riding on a roller coaster of emotions. However, that should be seen as and is indeed a good thing; it allows you scope to feel things that perhaps you had not even noticed in yourself, or others. It gives you the power to see the good and bad in the characters of others, in all our Technicolor differences.Read more and find out where this film made it in the Top 50 Most Influential Gay Movies of All Time book, search on Amazon for Top 50 Most Influential Gay Movies of All Time, or visit - 

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 62 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.





English | Hebrew

Release Date:

14 December 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Torch Song Trilogy See more »

Filming Locations:

Denville, New Jersey, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$70,022, 18 December 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed