Thursday, September 26, 2013

'Cruising's' Friedkin: James Franco Film, Mineshaft Footage & Spielberg

The good folks at the Pacific Film Archive recently organized a mini-retrospective of films by William Friedkin, director of "The Exorcist", "Cruising" and other movies over a 50-year career.

On Thursday, September 19, the PFA rented the large auditorium of the California Theatre in downtown Berkeley, CA, for a screening of Friedkin's "Sorcerer" with a fantastically restored print. It was my first time seeing this over-looked excellent film and I'm pleased to have seen it with a large appreciative audience.

Unlike other filmmakers and stars who speak before a screening, Friedkin waited until the film ended before conducting a very engaging Q&A session expertly facilitated by critic Michael Guillen.

Since I was down in the third row on the aisle, next to where Friedkin and Guillen stood with their microphones, I asked the first question. After stating that I'd seen the Travis Mathews and James Franco mock-doc "Interior. Leather. Bar.", all about the lost forty-minutes of footage from "Cruising" and found it boring, a word I never expected to associated with the controversial film, I asked Friedkin if he's seen it.

He has but basically had no opinion on it since he watched "Interior. Leather. Bar." on his iPad. Friedkin went on to say the missing footage is porn and was shot inside the old S/M sex club the Mineshaft, after he received permission from the Mafia owner who was his friend.

Further discussing the making of "Cruising", Friedkin mentions the late gay activist and Village Voice writer Arthur Bell and his stories about the murders of gay men associated with the leather underground at the time. Friedkin also spoke about the murderer having served his time in prison and is now out of the slammer.

One bit of movie trivia from Friedkin that I didn't know was that Steven Spielberg had been offered the opportunity to direct "Cruising" but turned it down.

Glad I caught Friedkin on tape and can now share it. Apologies for the poor sound and shaky camera.

Many thanks to the Pacific Film Archive folks for bringing Friedkin to Berkeley and also giving Bay Area cineastes a treat in showing the beautiful print of "Sorcerer", which if you haven't seen it is something you should watch and preferably on a big screen.

1 comment:

Andy Humm said...

Love you, Michael, but I hate to see you being chummy with this pig. I was very involved in the protests against making this movie--especially in our Village.

"Cruising" was kicking us while we were down. And then Friedkin had the nerve to say (in an interview last year) it was done in response to the AIDS crisis which had not started in 1979 when his hateful film was made. He does tell what sound like good stories, but very hard to trust that they are true.