Cruising (1980)

Happy Valentine’s Day. 

Cruising is a 1980 American crime thriller film written and directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist, French Connection,Sorceror) and starring Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas), and Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark). The film is loosely based on the novel of the samename, by Gerald Walker; also starring Richard Cox, Don Scardino, Joe Spinell (Maniac, Godfather, Rocky, Taxi Driver, Sorceror), Eugene Davis (10 to Midnight) and James Remar (The Warriors). 

Just in time for V-Day is the controversial 1980’s cult-classic Cruising. This film was so controversial that production was plagued by sabotage and protests from the gay-rights community believing the film would stigmatize them. The film is also notorious for its initial X-rating from the MPA before Friedkin was forced to remove over 40 minutes of footage to earn an R-rating. This movie is the only film soundtrack work by Los Angeles punk band The Germs. They recorded six songs for the film, of which only one,"Lion's Share", appeared. The cut "Shakedown, Breakdown"was written and recorded especially for the film by Toronto cult band RoughTrade. “It’s So Easy” and “Heat of the Moment” by Willy De Ville and “Hypnotize”by The Cripples also can be heard on the soundtrack.

 Cruising is about a serial killer targeting gay men, in particular those associated with the leather scene. The title is a play on words with a dual meaning, as "cruising" can describe police officers on patrol and also cruising for sex. Al Pacino is a young police officer on the force who given the opportunity to rise in the ranks by going deep undercover into 1980s Manhattan underground S&M and Leather sub-culture. With only his commanding officer (Sorvino) knowing his real identity, Steve Burns (Pacino) goes deeper and deeper into NYC’s seedier side each night. 

This is one of Pacino’s more underrated roles. This was Pacino at his peak before 1992’s Scent of a Woman turned him into a caricature of himself. His character of Steve Burns, reluctantly takes a job he doesn’t really understand and is thrust into a world that is as foreign to him as it was and is to squares. His character in a weird way is initially repulsed and awkward but, gradually becomes intrigued by his new surroundings as the lines between his cover and his own fetish curiousity begin to blur. Each night he goes further into the rabbit and each night the killer takes another victim as the mystery seems further from being solved.  

Upon the film's release, critical reaction was highly negative and gay activists had public protests against the film. However, critical opinion of it has warmed somewhat over the years as the film has been reassessed. As of April 2016, the film holds a 50% "rotten" rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 42 reviews. Upon its original release, Roger Ebert gave Cruising two and a half out of four stars. Cruising was released February 15, 1980 in the United States and had a domestic box office take of $19,784,223. 

So strap up your leathers and harnesses tight. Lube up your engines and engage into this urban noir experience as only the great William Friedkin can present to you. No holds barred and no safe words. Saddle up and keep your fingerless gloves on that rewind button.