Directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist), gay S&M giallo Cruising (1980) was considered historically provocative when it was first released in 1980. Starring Al Pacino as a psychologically suggestible young police officer who is tasked with investigating brutal murders in the gay leather bars of New York’s Meatpacking district, the shooting and release of the film were met with an unmatched social furore. The film’s mix of brazen (for a mainstream release) gay content, a based-on-facts serial murder case, and Friedkin’s penchant for ratcheting up the visceral tension quota to high levels guaranteed scandal. Years later, however, this provocative and challenging film remains a touchstone in its incisive look at male sexual duality, social duplexity, and a glimpse into a lost era of New York’s gay history.
-Written by Scott Lang