Friday, October 20 - Thursday, November 2, 2023

“William Friedkin’s 1980 ode to fisting, faggotry, and flash cuts… CRUISING, based on a book inspired by a series of murders that would in later years be termed hate crimes, is a film that had to answer for a lot of unfair expectations. Chief among those is the burden of being one of the first major studio pictures to present gay sexuality on the screen (as opposed to the more innocuous gay ‘identities’ of The Boys in the Band). Firsts are always in some measure definitive, and the reservations of those who were not portrayed accurately by CRUISING are understandable in light of the film’s implication that each and every last fag in the tri-state area fell into three groups: leather daddies packing cans of Crisco, mincing tranny bitches, or sweet-natured eunuchs caught in between, doomed (because of their unwillingness to fly their freak flag) to spend their miserable, artistic existence in solitude. (I left out a fourth archetype, but since that would be the predatory murderer demographic, I don’t imagine including that to pump up the diversity quotient would appease CRUISING’s detractors.)

Some of the film’s objectionable presuppositions can be dismissed, others not. In the former camp is the notion that the adjustment of the sexual alignment of Pacino’s undercover cop emerges from having spent a few nights pumping his arms on the grimy dance floors of the S&M clubs. He frequently rushes back from his stakeout apartment on Christopher Street to have sex with his girlfriend (Karen Allen). As the film goes on, he appears to engage in increasingly rougher sex, and at one point seems to need to hear that disco-punk beat in his head to get in the mood with her. While to some this is a flagrant demonstration of the insidious, seductive allure of homosexuality that is passed like vampirism, I think Friedkin’s scenario is far more interested in examining the fragility of undercover policemen’s identity.” – Slant Magazine

Screening as part of our retrospective William Friedkin: Fate and Faith.

See more and save! Get a Holy Trinity Pack ($30 for IFC Center members and $45 for non-members). Ticket packs are good for any shows in the retrospective.

Previously screened as part of our series When the Lights Go Down: The Sex Scene

  • Country USA
  • Year 1980
  • Running Time 102 minutes
  • Format DCP
  • Distributor Warner Brothers
  • Director William Friedkin
  • Cast Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen
  • Accessibility T-Coil, Assistive Listening

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and as well as through general internet searches.