Saturday, July 20, 2013

Torch Song Trilogy

1988 American Feature

Cast: Harvey Fierstein, Anne Bancroft, Matthew Broderick, Brian Kerwin, Karen Young, Eddie Castrodad, Ken Page and Charles Pierce
Director: Paul Bogart
Writer: Harvey Fierstein, based on his play

Unsinkable New York Jewish drag queen Arnold Beckoff searches for love, happiness and respect in a world that seems not especially made for him.

  • Internet Movie Database: 7.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes - Critics: 71% / Audience: 89%
  • OMG rating: 9/10

  • DVD: Available
  • Soundtrack: Available
  • Book: Available


  • Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Feature and Male Lead (Fierstein).

  • A collection of Harvey Fierstein's one-act plays (titled International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery and Widows and Children First!), Torch Song Trilogy was first performed in 1981 and made its Off-Broadway debut the following year, quickly followed by a transfer to Broadway later that same year.  The play won Fierstein two Tony Awards, for Best Actor in Play and Best Play; upon accepting the later, co-producer John Glines gave a historic speech acknowledging his lover and co-producer, Larry Lane.
  • Although the play was over four hours, the film was restricted to a running time of two hours at the insistence of New Line Cinema, necessitating much editing and excisions.
  • Matthew Broderick, who played David in the original Off-Broadway production,  originally declined the role of Alan in the film because he was recuperating from an automobile accident in Ireland. Tate Donovan was cast, but two days into the rehearsal period Broderick had a change of heart and replaced Donovan.
  • Estelle Getty, who originated the role of Arnold's mother in both the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions, was unavailable for the film adaptation due to her schedule on The Golden Girls.
  • Wanting to highlight the work of celebrated female impersonator Charles Pierce, Harvey Fierstein created the role of Bertha Venation specifically for him.
  • The Stud Bar was based on The International Bar, a popular Greenwich Village gay bar known for its infamous "back room". Patrons would often refer to it as "The International Stud", and the name eventually stuck after several years.
  • Director Paul Bogart has a cameo in the dance audition scene.

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