Harvey Fierstein repeats his Tony Award-winning performance as Arnold Beckoff, a flamboyant drag queen looking for love and respect. Originated as separately staged one-acts, the play, when finally mounted as a unified work in 1982, proved bracing in its frank depiction of gay sex life, both promiscuous and committed.

Harvey Fierstein repeats his Tony Award-winning performance as Arnold Beckoff, a flamboyant drag queen looking for love and respect. Originated as separately staged one-acts, the play, when finally mounted as a unified work in 1982, proved bracing in its frank depiction of gay sex life, both promiscuous and committed.

Nervous, mannered, gravelly voiced, overly sensitive, campy and with a taste for eyerolling rivaled only by Groucho Marx in modern showbiz annals, Arnold appears a bit gun-shy of romance, but allows himself to be picked up in a gay bar by Ed (Brian Kerwin), a good-looking, straight-seeming fellow who openly announces his bisexuality.

This doesn’t stop Arnold from falling head over heels for his Middle American catch, but causes him endless pain when he discovers Ed with a young woman, Laurel (Karen Young).

In what is effectively Act Two, Arnold meets Alan (Matthew Broderick), to him an impossibly good-looking kid who used to be a hustler and actively seeks out Arnold for his human, as opposed to superficial, qualities.

Act Three, the most conventional of the sections, is given over to Arnold’s efforts to handle an adopted teenage son and sort out his strained relations with his mother (Anne Bancroft).

Torch Song Trilogy

Production

New Line. Director Paul Bogart; Producer Howard Gottfried; Screenplay Harvey Fierstein; Camera Mikael Salomon; Editor Nicholas C. Smith; Music Peter Matz; Art Director Richard Hoover

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1988. Running time: 117 MIN.

With

Anne Bancroft Matthew Broderick Harvey Fierstein Brian Kerwin Karen Young Charles Pierce
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