Has its release in 1980, CRUISING – LA CHASSE (its English title means rather the slamming), the tenth film of William Friedkin, has particularly shocked. Its about a police investigation in the media sadomasochist homosexual in New York, is very delicate at the time. But mostly Friedkin tackles violent and raw. The developer will need to be cut and edited a large part of its film to avoid being subject to the classification X, not for under 18 years of age, in the United States for films considered by the Commission of censorship of the Motion Picture Association of America’s as too violent, with the abuse of dialogue offensive and rude and/or contain scenes of sex too implicit – pornographic films are classified as XX or XXX. CRUISING – THE HUNT will receive for its theatrical release a ” R “, no one under 17 years of age unaccompanied. Today, CRUISING – THE HUNT is always as much (to see, but is closer to a masterpiece than a work ban. In spite of some faults, it retains the boldness of the filmmaker and his master’s degree in terms of atmosphere disturbing. A thriller that will remain in memory and surprises as ever, worn with panache by the great Al Pacino.
The new york police investigation into two killings of homosexuals belonging to the trend to sado-masochist, which she thinks to be due to the same killer. Captain David Edelson, assigned to the case, proposes to a young police officer in uniform, Steve Burns – who has the physical characteristics of the victims – to infiltrate the gay community. As it aims to become “the investigator”, Steve, seeing the possibility of a quick promotion, agrees, despite the danger that it incurs. Installed in an apartment in Greenwich Village, Steve frequents all the nights meeting places you gay : bars, discos, night clubs, public gardens. The assassin, dressed in a leather jacket with metal parts cliquetantes, bearer of cap of motorcycling, and the face hidden behind sunglasses, striking for two more times..
The scenario with the particular CRUISING – HUNTING comes from a series of articles published in the weekly cultural new yorker, The Village Voice. The journalist and gay activist Arthur Bell described some of the gay bars and clubs of the city, highlighting an atmosphere of leather sadomasochistic. This was in addition to the disappearances that have taken place in these bars, as reported by the press of the time. Friedkin had already made about the gay community in 1970 The Boys in The Band, dealing with the difficulty to live and to reveal the attraction and the preference of men for other men at the end of the 1960s. Ten years later, Friedkin discusses a darker side-and groundwater of the homosexual milieu in the form of a detective movie. As in the French Connection, his first major success in 1971, the police investigation on drug trafficking, the filmmaker offers a fiction from real events, filmed in a documentary style and cinema verite. At the sight of its plans, it seems to browse through the eyes of a mysterious universe. His camera remains regular remote to shoot long sequences without cut-off. During this stage it is the performance of the actors, which is preferred, and it follows of course that ofAl Pacino. This last one, although having denied the existence of the film after conflicts with Friedkin, breaking the screen. The actor fascinates on every shot and seems to be inhabited by a character whose behavior changes little by little.
“In spite of some faults, it retains the boldness of the filmmaker and his master’s degree in terms of atmosphere disturbing.”
In fact, William Friedkin directs slowly his film to the ambiguity of the characters. Steve, the police officer that embodies Pacino, tasked to infiltrate the environment, seems first to have been thrown into the mouth of the wolf. A strange world, stranger, that the rout, and then draws it. In front of him a killer, especially worrisome. Leaving only the big glasses and black cap leather, and not implying that out-of-field (at least in large part) a voice almost unreal. This way if a particular present is a character nightmare. Especially as Friedkin puts the majority of his film in a dreamlike atmosphere based on shades of blue and black recalling here The Exorcist (1973). Especially for the sequences of night and in the box of the first part of the movie, the second focusing more on the investigation of a more conventional. This was mixed with the description of extreme practices, images of leather, of sweating bodies, complemented by songs punk rock of the time. In the overall vibe of the film the work of director of photography, James A. Contner, for which he was the first film, is put at the honor.
With this dream-like atmosphere that glides along of CRUISING – THE HUNT, mixed with the fear of Steve losing control, of getting lost during its investigation, the doubt arises about the real identity of the killer. In this, Steve’s relationship with his girlfriend Nancy, played by Karen Allen (Raiders of the lost ark) becomes essential. The only place of rare refuge, but where Steve can’t deliver. To the extent that in the surrounding of the forces of order and morality more questionable (some police officers taking advantage of their “power” to bully the gay community), a topic that is particularly fond of Friedkin – as is already the case in the French Connection, and treated again in 1985, Federal Police, Los Angeles – nothing is less sure about Steve, if charismatic and ambiguous in front of her mirror. Friedkin managed a genuine tour de force, leaving the viewer in a state of expectation until the end.
CRUISING – THE HUNT is reviewed in the context of a retrospective devoted to WILLIAM FRIEDKIN, proposed by the Champs Elysees film Festival 2015 ! the film will be screened on Thursday 11 June – 22:00 at Publicis Cinemas.
– NRC AND OF THE CFFS 2015 : IMAGINARY AMERICANS : DESERT
– NRC AND OF THE CFFS 2015 : RETROSPECTIVE FRIEDKIN
– Nrc and of the cffs 2015 : programming • Original title : Cruising
• Production : William Friedkin
• Screenplay : William Friedkin after Gerald Walker
• Main actors : Al Pacino, Karen Allen, Paul Sorvino
• Country of origin : U. S. A
• Released : September 24, 1980 – Broadcast to the nrc and of the cffs June 11, 2015
• Duration : 1 hour 40 minutes
• Distributor : Action Cinemas / Theatre du Temple
• Synopsis : The new york police investigation into two killings of homosexuals belonging to the trend to sado-masochist, which she thinks to be due to the same killer. Captain David Edelson, assigned to the case, proposes to a young police officer in uniform, Steve Burns – who has the physical characteristics of the victims – to infiltrate the gay community. As it aims to become “the investigator”, Steve, seeing the possibility of a quick promotion, agrees, despite the danger that it incurs…