Crusing the Movies, by Boyd McDonald
Praised by Erin Sheehy in “Straight to Hell,” her piece in Issue 25, Boyd McDonald’s Cruising the Movies was Boyd McDonald’s “sexual guide” to televised cinema, originally published by the Gay Presses of New York in 1985. Cruising the Movies collects the author’s movie reviews of 1983–1985. This new, expanded edition also includes previously uncollected articles and a new introduction by William E. Jones.
Eschewing new theatrical releases for the “oldies” once common as cheap programing on independent television stations, and more interested in starlets and supporting players than leading actors, McDonald casts an acerbic, queer eye on the greats and not-so-greats of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Writing against the bleak backdrop of Reagan-era America, McDonald never ceases to find subversive, arousing delights in the comically chaste aesthetics imposed by the censorious Motion Picture Production Code of 1930–1968. Gay and subcultural, yet never reducible to a zany cult concern or mere camp, McDonald’s “reviews” capture a lost art of queer cinephilia, recording a furtive obsession that once animated gay urban life. With lancing wit, Cruising celebrates gay subculture’s profound embrace of mass culture, seeing film for what it is—a screen that reflects our fantasies, desires, and dreams.
Praise for Cruising the Movies
“Boyd McDonald’s refusal to assimilate still feels radical in today’s age of queer gentrification . . . The humor in Cruising the Movies can feel both dark and necessary . . . Cruising the Movies is a corrective to all the “plot-crazed” film critics who deny one of the main roles of film: to inspire fantasy, both about the stars on the screen and about ourselves in the world.”
—Erin Sheehy, n+1
“McDonald honed a kind of cultural criticism—personal but outward-looking, raunchy yet brainy, funny and furious—rare in his era and barely in evidence today, when we are overrun with professional (and paraprofessional) opinionators whose writing rarely rises above plot synopses with some adjectives and adverbs thrown in.”
—Melissa Anderson, Bookforum
“Cruising the Movies is film writing that delivers that magic with verve, wit, and self-deprecation. It is, against all odds, a piece of film criticism that is as entertaining as the movies that it looks at, and contemporary film writers would do well to take a page from Boyd’s book.”
—Desirae Embree, PopMatters