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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.33%
Worth A Look86.67%
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1 review, 9 user ratings

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Leather Boys, The
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by Charles Tatum

"Very British and very entertaining"
4 stars

This British film, released in the mid 1960's, addresses the then taboo subject of homosexuality...sort of.

Sixteen year old Dot (Rita Tushingham) loves her motorcycle riding boyfriend Reggie (Colin Campbell). The two are engaged, spend most of their time together having clandestine sex, and it soon becomes obvious to the viewer that they are not ready for marriage. They marry anyway, honeymooning at a resort where things already go awry.

Dot changes her hair color to platinum blonde, and likes to go out and dance. Reggie would rather stay in, and make love to his new wife. The two stumble through the honeymoon.

Six months later, Reggie is a mechanic in a garage and Dot spends her time spending his money. The two fight when together, Reggie wants a proper wife who has food on the table when he gets home and Dot wants a husband to provide for her every financial whim. Reggie begins rejecting Dot in bed, and he also befriends fellow cycle enthusiast Pete (Dudley Sutton).

Reggie's grandfather dies, and Pete rents a room from the grandmother. Reggie wants to move in with his grandmother as well, but Dot will have nothing to do with it and the two seperate. Reggie and Pete share the same room, and the same large bed, upstairs, but nothing sexual occurs. They ride to the coast, and Reggie makes a play for a couple of girls there. Pete is downright rude in his rejection of them, and Reggie does not understand why.

Dot and her scheming mother hatch a plan to get Reggie back. Dot will lie about being pregnant, then pretend to miscarry when Reggie returns to her. The plan is set, and backfires. Reggie accuses Dot of sleeping with her new boyfriend (Johnny Briggs), and since they have not had sex in forever, so it could not be his. During another fight before a big endurance motorcycle race from London to Edinburgh and back, Dot finally calls Pete and Reggie "queers."

Dot rides with her new boyfriend, and Pete and Reggie team up for the race. After a breakdown, Dot finds herself on Reggie's bike, and the two flirt and grow closer.

The final scenes involve Reggie's decision to go back to Dot, and Pete's plan to move to New York. In the end, Reggie must choose between the two most important people in his life.

Furie, who went on to direct unwatchable dreck like the "Iron Eagle" series and "Superman IV," shows such a good eye here. There are no motorcycle accidents, but his scenes on the open road are still impressive. Everything is shot on location, it is nice to see a cast actually suffer through a freezing endurance race complete with mussed hair, foggy breath, and dirty faces. Furie leads the young cast and turns them into totally believable characters. Tushingham, Campbell, and Sutton never appear to be acting. They become these characters so well.

The film is very British and shot in black and white, reminding me of the Beatles in "A Hard Day's Night." My one problem with the film is its treatment of homosexuality compared with other major plot points. The film makers do not shy away from homosexuality, but do succumb to stereotypes in the final minutes. The crew of the boat Pete wants to take to New York are all lisping and degenerate. Pete himself is probably the most sympathetic character in the film. The problem is the homosexual angle is treated so delicately, other character traits are cranked up in order to make up for this absence in the film. So, Dot turns from shy schoolgirl to awful shrew in a matter of moments. Reggie comes off as so naive, his behavior borders on stupid. Pete is too anti-woman, it comes as a shock that no one sees he is gay until Dot gets a dig in by calling him and Reg queer. I am not saying that all homosexual men are anti-woman, but this one character trait overrides any other behavior that might give us some insight into Pete. He is only nice to Reggie's grandmother because she is not a threat to his relationship with Reggie.

Of course, in 1964, how many films were dealing with homosexuality without resorting to hilarious stereotypes? Despite the unintentionally salacious title, "The Leather Boys" is a very interesting look into English life in the '60's. The homosexual angle is important to the film, but it does not overwhelm it with preachiness. It does the exact opposite, taking its time to incorporate it into otherwise over the top characteristics.

I do recommend "The Leather Boys," and it must be admired for helping open the door to homosexuality being portrayed in a more mainstream light on film and television.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6306&reviewer=325
originally posted: 12/02/02 20:50:04
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User Comments

8/11/11 J. I was really well impressed - fascinating impressions from the time, great leather outfits 4 stars
1/20/10 mark gill seen it loads of times ,old rocker ,takes me back , remember old Ace cafe . 4 stars
1/01/10 Wyll Greenewood I saw this film "way back" and as a "Rocker" during this time I can 100% recommend it. 4 stars
12/11/09 victor mc donald brilliant - dudly sutton stole the picture 5 stars
9/08/07 Richard Steel Watched it on BBC4 the other day, very impressed. Why didn't Colin Campbell become a star? 4 stars
9/06/07 Lynda C Why have I never been told about this film before? A classic 5 stars
9/29/05 Micharel Dodge So real...almost unbearable........ 4 stars
8/16/04 Richard Eyles Excellent rocker movie. 4 stars
11/02/02 Charles Tatum Well done early look at homosexuality in Britain 4 stars
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  02-Jan-1964 (NR)
  DVD: 20-Mar-2007



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