Directed by William Friedkin • 1980 • United States
Starring Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen
One of the most notorious films of the 1980s, this controversial thriller directed by William Friedkin (THE EXORCIST, THE FRENCH CONNECTION) stars Al Pacino as Steve Burns, an NYPD officer who goes undercover in Manhattan’s kinky leather-bar underground in order to track down a serial killer targeting gay men. Members of the LGBT community protested the film upon its release for what was widely viewed as an intrinsically homophobic storyline and for its explicit images of sexual violence carried out both by and against gay men—especially problematic in a time when so little representation of gay life existed on American movie screens. Nevertheless, CRUISING, a true taboo-breaker in what could be shown on-screen in an American studio picture, continues to fascinate, both as a glimpse of New York’s gay scene before the AIDS crisis and as a stylish, tantalizingly ambiguous take on the giallo genre.