There has been some murders in New York’s gay community and the Police Detective in charge of the investigation offers ambitious patrolman Steve Burns the chance of making detective if he’s willing to go undercover. Burns has to adopt the persona of a gay man frequenting the underground S&M Leather bars of New York where it appears the murderer is picking his victims.
Burns moves into an apartment and becomes ‘John’ and immediately befriends the dude down the hall who is an inspiring playwright. At night however Burns begins to visit the bars where nothing is off limits and the murders continue.
Incredibly controversial at its time of production (1979) where the set was constantly picketed by activists but embraced by the S&M scene who were more than happy to let director William Friedkin film them in the clubs. Cruising is a prime example of quality film making by a director at the top of his game. Every performance from the cast is excellent from Al Pacino in the lead role, Paul Sorvino as his boss, Karen Allen as the ‘token girlfriend’ and plenty of familiar faces including James Remar, Joe Spinell and Powers Boothe as a Hankie Salesman. The soundtrack is put together with finesse comprising of not only music in the clubs but some interesting sound effects and a strange hypnotic music score. A majority of the film is set at night and looks gorgeous in this remastered edition approved by Friedkin himself.
The subject matter and a number of the scenes may not appeal to everyone but the film I feel isn’t damning on a lifestyle choice but a fine thriller with a unique background to the story.
Great stuff and Arrow’s new edition is a great excuse for me to revisit it again after a long time. Also, be sure to check the new commentary with Friedkin and Mark Kermode which truly is a fascinating and informative listen.