Director: William Friedkin
Year Released: 1980
After a series of murders takes place among the S&M crowd in NYC - leading the police to suspect a serial killer - they send in callow cop Al Pacino to cruise bars hoping to locate the assailant. Critical reception to this was initially negative although the passing of time and changing attitudes has forced viewers to behave a little more diplomatically towards it - admittedly, this is a doggedly ambiguous picture with enough to keep a debate with regards to its merits and weaknesses going for a while. For example, the fascination/repulsion towards the unbridled S&M scenes is obvious - the camera itself cruises around, eager to catch a glimpse of something shocking (a fist goes in there, a hand goes around there) - while there's the other element to it in which you could argue that the man who directed The Boys in the Band is pro-free love and merely trying to make a police procedural (which he's well known for) but with a sensational 'twist.' In my view, it does go a bit too far in the scenes with Pacino and girlfriend Karen Allen, arguing that a kind of Homosexual Panic is setting into the Pacino character due to mere "exposure" (which strikes me as being homophobic), although someone else might counter that it's Friedkin's exploration of the 'sliding scale' of sexuality, and how some people are more bisexual than predominately hetero-or-homosexual. Textual analysis aside, I find the performances to be a little dodgy and the dialogue to be sub-par and riddled with banal exchange, though no one will ever consider this either Friedkin or Pacino's best work.