Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 1971. Bluebird Productions, Cutler Griffin Associates. Cinematography by Tony Mitchell. Produced by John Lauricella, Martin Richards. Music by Gordon Rose. Production Design by Ray Menard. Costume Design by Andy Greenhut. Film Editing by Richard Cadenas, Angelo Ross. Podcast: Bad Gay Movies..
Christmas Eve at a New York City gay bar, it’s 1971 and the world has changed. Stonewall is still visible in the distance and it is no longer illegal to sell alcohol to homosexuals, which means these characters can enjoy their night at their favourite haunt without worrying about the cops bursting in and ruining everything. Does that mean everything is fine and there is truly peace on Earth? Not really, not when you have a powder keg of volatile characters put into the mix and made to interact, including a straight piano player, a selfish hustler (Gary Sandy, pre-WKRP), a selfish “fag hag” (Rue McClanahan), all the men who can’t stand her, an insecure waiter, a trans woman who hasn’t found her footing (the exquisite Candy Darling) and more than a few closet cases. There are musical numbers, there are jokes, and for the most part there is very little plot. The film does a terrific job of watching these people interact naturally for an hour and a half without pursuing a strong story line, but thanks to there being few major conflicts or arcs that are more than momentary, it fails to make much of an impression as a film. It does boil to a terrific conflict, however, involving Darling, who does a terrific job of playing dowdy (with the exception of a divine dream sequence). As a time capsule it is a fascinating effort, and has a strangely pleasant overall effect despite the many scenes of negative contact in it.