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?


In the stage production, Harvey Fierstein received top first billing, but for this filmed version, Fierstein took third billing, after second billed Matthew Broderick, and top first billed actress screen legend Anne Bancroft. 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: A thing of beauty is a joy 'till sunrise.
See more »


Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »


But Not for Me
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Performed by Billie Holiday
See more »

User Reviews

A great movie from a wonderful play
3 November 2000 | by aquanautSee all my reviews

Torch Song Trilogy is so called because its acts were originally presented one-by-one, months apart, at the off-Broadway La Mama Theater. It is done with a sparse set and few props, letting the incredibly funny, amazingly touching script fuel the play.

The movie version is done much more realistically, and it works! Things that are merely discussed in the play are shown to viewers. The cast is wonderfully realistic (Brian Kerwin is a bit stiff, but it works for the character of Ed.) and the script is just as good as the stage play. So many books and plays are adapted into something that is barely recognizable, but Fierstein makes his own script into something even more special.

The story benefits from the larger scope allowed by the movie.

We get to SEE the drag club, the bars, Arnold's (bunny-motif) apartment, Ed's country house and other locations merely hinted at in the play. The scenes that take place during and after the visit to the country house are somewhat confusing on stage, performed in a huge bed, but are beautifully edited in the movie. Best of all is Arnold's best friend, Murray, only talked about in the stage production. But in the movie, he's brought to magnificent life by Ken Page, filling the screen with his usual warmth and wit.

Harvey Fierstein has said that he hopes TST is like an Indian dress, made beautiful by all the little mirrors that decorate it. And truly, it is seeing and hearing *ourselves* that makes this script sparkle. You don't have to be a female impersonator to understand love and loss and laughter. This is NOT just a movie for gay men.

26 of 27 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