Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Alternate title: Strip Jack Naked: Nighthawks II
United Kingdom, 1991. British Film Institute, Channel 4 Television Corporation. Screenplay by Ron Peck, Paul Hallam. Cinematography by Christopher Hughes, Ron Peck. Produced by Paul Hallam, Ron Peck. Music by Adrian James Carbutt, David Graham Ellis. Film Editing by Adrian James Carbutt, Ron Peck.
Ron Peck’s Nighthawks was a groundbreaking moment in British cinema when it was released in 1978, a frank, honest and friendly portrayal of gay men looking for love and companionship in a society that had only recently decriminalized their sexual behaviour while societal prejudices remained hostile. Nighthawks‘ tale of a grammar school teacher who spends his nights in bars was notable for never feeling sleazy, there was a sense of the protagonist genuinely in search of something good out of an atmosphere that was risky and exciting. Revisiting it in this multi-layered documentary is a pleasure as Peck takes us back to the making of the film, then further expands on the subject to narrate his own biography of growing up gay and coming of age in a world that didn’t have films like Nighthawks to offer him as representation. There’s information relayed about the challenges of getting the film made, then the arduous editing process of cutting four hours of footage to a cogent and tidy feature, which necessitated cutting out a number of performances by actors who were Peck’s friends, one of whom has passed away in the years since the film was made and whose life and impression is also among the many tales related by the director’s own voice. New images shot on primitive video, of hunky, naked men that are intercut as chapter stops to each sequence feel a bit dated and gimmicky now, but for anyone who is a fan of Nighthawks there’s plenty to enjoy here (including a generous number of deleted scenes).