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shakespeare

"The Leather Boys" (1965) Dir. by Sidney J. Furie

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Don't let the cheesy title fool you.

This is a very good film. It's one of a small handfull of films made in Great Britain in the late 50's early 60's that deal frankly with homosexuality (for example, see ?Victim? with Dirk Bogarde). Appropriately, for its time it's directed in a somewhat New Wave style, a la Truffeaut and Goddard. It was directed by Sidney J. Furie, perhaps best known for directing ?The Ipcress File? with Michael Caine (made right after this one) and for ?Lady Sings the Blues? in 1972. It has a strong Cinema Verite feeling. The young cast of actors are very natural in their style delivering performances that are believable and forthright. The teenage newlyweds, Reggie and Dot are realistically portrayed by Colin Cambell and Rita Tushingham (see Dr. Zhivago). The couple waste no time in proving to be much too immature for marriage. Abandoning his marriage, Reggie seeks the solace of his biker gang commrades. He is befriended by another biker boy, Pete, of whose homosexual inclinations, Reggie is completely oblivious. Many might say this naivete on Reggie?s part is beyond belief. How could it be possible for Reggie not to see Pete?s hausefrau manners as something vastly different than most straight guys. But that is assuming Reggie has some frame of reference for what a ?queer? is supposed to look like. The film makes it clear that all Reggie sees in Pete is another biker gang friend. And that doesn?t fit with Reggie?s homosexual frame of reference, likely an older, overtly effeminate man. The whole point of the film is to turn that stereotype on its ear, to show how far many gay men diverge from that stereotype. The only objection a critic might make is that Furie doesn?t go far enough. The film ends with Reggie rejecting Pete when it?s finally revealed that Pete is gay. The film leaves it up to the audience to decide whether Reggie himself is gay or not. The films ending is rather enigmatic, Reggie clearly has some soul searching to do before he decides on who is going to be his next love interest. Beyond this, however, Furie has definitely made an intriguing and thought-provoking movie, and very accessible to all no matter what gender you prefer.

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