I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole (2013)

JIM TUSHINSKI

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 2013.  Gorilla Factory Productions.  Screenplay by Jim Tushinski.  Cinematography by , .  Produced by , Jim Tushinski. Music by .  Film Editing by , Jim Tushinski.  

The Boys In The Sand has often been referred to as the gay Deep Throat, an adult film classic that represents the same-sex side of the 1970s “porno chic” days and one that is still considered the major milestone in the gay porn industry. Its director, Wakefield Poole, is best known for the films he made that decade (also including Bijou and Moving!) but in this documentary we discover that adult films were only one of the many chapters of his life. He began as a musical theatre dancer, training from his youth thanks to scholarships sparked by the talent he showed from an early age, became a Broadway choreographer and took part in a number of both successful and disastrous productions including a wonderful sequence on his experience with Do I Hear A Waltz, the musical version of David Lean’s Summertime. In the wake of that career winding down, Poole got the inspiration to make a low-budget film on Fire Island that would put gay sexuality on the screen in an appealing though hopefully not wholesome way. The result was a major success whose lucrative financial rewards were not to be lasting, as future pitfalls (including some years of drug addiction and the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, which he miraculously survived) would get in the way. In his 80s, we now find our subject battered and bruised by life’s experiences but not beaten: Poole is a delightful on-screen narrator of his own life, frequently moved to tears by reminiscences of memories good and bad, and this charmer of a doc is padded out with delicious footage from his films as well as terrific stock photographs from his youthful dancing days.

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