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You can count on the fingers of one hand the Hollywood films based on important stage plays in which all the members of the cast of the original production reprised their roles on the big screen instead of being replaced by movie stars of varying wattage. Of them, the most artistically successful is “The Boys in the Band,” William Friedkin’s 1970 film version of Mart Crowley’s hit play about a group of unhappy gay Manhattanites who get together for a birthday party and spend the second half of the evening hacking away at each other’s emotional scabs.
Widely regarded as shocking when it opened off Broadway in 1968, “The Boys in the Band” later became controversial in a different way because it portrayed its gay characters as bitter and self-hating, a stance that appalled younger men not old enough to remember the tightly closeted world portrayed with unflinching candor by Crowley. Today it is regarded as a kind of time capsule, a gay history play that shows how things were in the bad old days—but it’s also increasingly seen as a first-rate piece of dramatic work in its own right, and Mr. Friedkin’s adaptation conveys with singular brilliance the way “The Boys in the Band” plays on stage….
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The original theatrical trailer for The Boys in the Band: