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Cruising (1980) – Al Pacino’s most cotroversial Role?

cruising1295 Category: Thriller
Actors: Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen, Richard Cox, Don Scardino, Ed O’Neill, James Remar
Duration: 102 min
Rated: R

You might like this movie if you enjoyed:
American Gigolo (1980), Dressed to Kill (1980), 8MM (1999)

Long Story Short:
A police officer goes undercover in the gay S&M and leather scene to find a serial killer. During his investigation he feels oddly attracted to this world, and risks losing his own identity.

Crusing, which is directed by William Friedkin (known for The Exorcist (1973) and The French Connection (1971)) comes off very dark, and the killer with a voice that seems to come straight from hell, is very creepy. The killings are intense and seem very real, and I am sure that the reason for so many gays going against that movie at that time was, they were actually scared of it. After all, hate crimes weren’t acknowledged by the law, and homophobia was widely common, so the movie was more of a reminder that these crimes exist. The “controversial” scenes shot in the leather bars in the gay district of New York made me laugh a little because they did seem very stereotypical, and I think by now we have seen the same or even worse images in gay parodies. But apparently in the unreleased uncut version there is a lot more to see. The cast is great, even James Remar, who plays the dead father in Dexter has a little part in it.
I think Al Pacino has so many faces, he can play almost everything, and is not afraid to play roles that people might not be fond of, and Cruising proves this. So is this his most controversial role? It is probaly one of them, but I think his role in Angels in America is far more controversial. Performance-wise I thought he was struggling just a little bit, and seemed awkward (especially a scene where he is dancing very stiff and strangely) but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought that this was his interpretation of his character. Who knows.

While watching the movie I had quite a few questions. These question include spoilers, so if you want to see them you may click here.

Anyways, Cruising is a very decent thriller, which has that 80’s flair to it, a creepy killer, and great leading and supporting actors, If you shy away from movies that deal with gay themes it might not be for you, but for everyone else open for an interesting, dark, and intense thriller, go for it, and Al Pacino’s fans won’t definitely regret it either.
But beware: the odd ending might leave you confused, and with a few question. Click here if you want to get a more detailed look at the movie and the questions I had while watching it. I even came up with a few answers! 😀

Rating: 6.5/10


  1. I actually saw this movie on HBO when I was in high school. Not the most appropriate, but I loved Pacino from the Godfather movies (I know, again, not appropriate for a kid in jr. high, but my parents didn’t care about those things). As I recall, Cruising wasn’t his best film. lol. But it would be interesting to see again just because it’s such a peek into New York in the 80s.

    • Yes, it is not his best performance, and it is actually really awkward sometimes, but I thought that’s how he interpreted his role..?! I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, which is why I was okay with his overall delivery! HAHAHA! I have been raised the same way, my parents didn’t try to shelter me from scary or violent movies. I am from Germany, so they rather cut the violent scenes and leave the sex in it, which always kind of made sense to me, because it is actually violence that is unnatural, correct? Anyway, I agree with what you say about the peek into an era and world that has been kept a secret for a while.

    • It really is, the movie is not a masterpiece, and what probably drew me into it was the background story, and the fact that so many people were fighting the release and it actually disappeared for nearly 20 years. Until the “Question”-Part you can actually read my other post to find out a little bit more about the history of the movie. If you watch it, check out the questions and answers I have in the other post, too, I am sure you will have the same questions. LoL. Thanks for commenting, it always appreciated, and so are your retweets! 😀 Have a lovely day!

      • You’re welcome. I really enjoy your posts and I like to retweet anything I think my followers would find interesting! 🙂

      • Pacino is on it , in this movie; he’s always a chameleon, in every film, he embraces every role! I had never seen this movie and stumbled across it in a library lend out in 2010! I’d rent it again for the superb acting, alone. You’re right, for Pacino lovers, it’s a gift!

  2. By “controversial”, do you mean “worst”? Because seriously, this whole movie’s pretty shit, but the key-scene in its awfulness is when Pacino tries to dance around in this gay club and totally fails, looking like a total jackass. I don’t know, something about Al Pacino dancing around with a whole slew of guys makes me laugh long and hard, even to this day. Good review Simon.

    • Hahahaa, I can’t breath you are hilarious! I was laughing, too, when he started dancing, I thought he was having seizures. And The Oscar for worst dance performance ever goes to… well, we know who! LoL You know I guess I was fascinated about the whole background story. With movies from the 80s I usually lower my expectations, but they have a certain dynamic that is strangely appealing, and I think that shows in this movie, too. What is also fascinating is the fact, that almost all of the people in the clubs weren’t actors, just regular customers from the bars. And some of them were acting pretty strange, LoL. Thanks for commenting, II always love to hear your input and thoughts!

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