[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/boysintheband1.jpg]]
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-->'''Michael''': What's so fucking funny?
-->'''Harold''': Life. Life's a goddamn laugh riot.

Michael, a gay recovering [[TheAlcoholic alcoholic]], along with friend and sometime lover Donald, is throwing a party for his buddy Harold's 32nd birthday. The guests include flaming queen Emory and his [[BlackBestFriend best friend]] Bernard, [[StraightGay seemingly straight]] schoolteacher Hank and his monogamy-impaired lover Larry, and "[[TheOldestProfession Cowboy]]", Emory's gift for the guest of honor. However, their fun is cut short by the arrival of an unexpected party guest - Alan, Michael's questionably heterosexual college chum. This, along with Michael falling OffTheWagon, leads to a night of soul-searching and all of the guests being forced to confront the most uncomfortable aspects of themselves.

''The Boys in the Band'' is an off-Broadway play written by Mart Crowley which premiered in 1968. It was faithfully adapted into a film (starring the original stage cast) by Creator/WilliamFriedkin in 1970. When it first opened, it was notable for the being first mainstream play (and film) to treat homosexuality in a direct and realistic way rather than cloaking it in subtext or portraying the characters as freaks. Furthermore, to quote Vito Russo, "[[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped The internalized guilt of eight gay men at a Manhattan birthday party formed the best and most potent argument for gay liberation ever offered in a popular art form.]]"

As it turned out, it was gay liberation itself that made ''The Boys In The Band'' go from being groundbreaking and revolutionary to a being a nasty relic of the Bad Old Days™ in the near instant, thanks to its bad timing. While the play was released in 1968, the Stonewall Riots occured in 1969 - and the film had the bad sense to be released in 1970 during the height of gay liberation. For years, it was often [[{{Demonization}} demonized]] as being not only dated, but flagrantly offensive. Over time, however, it's been [[VindicatedByHistory re-vindicated by history]], with more and more people recognizing it as a classic, eventually leading to a [[http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E4DB1639F93AA35755C0A960958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all stage revival in 1996]] and a long overdue DVD release in 2008.

Despite its reputation for being a "period piece", most of the issues addressed (internalized homophobia, effemiphobia, etc.) remain relevant to this day, and the characters seems as real as they were 40 years ago. Plus, it's hilarious, endlessly quotable, and genuinely poignant, if not always easy viewing. Check it out if you get a chance.
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!!Tropes used:
* AccidentalMisnaming:
-->'''Michael:''' ''(to Alan)'' My name is Michael. I am called Michael. You must never call anyone called Michael "Mickey". Those of us who are named Michael are very nervous about it.
* AlphaBitch: '''Harold'''.
* AlwaysCamp: Emory is an interior decorator and Harold's a former figure skater.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Alan, although he says that he's straight.
* AuthorAvatar: Michael is Mart Crowley's self-admitted AuthorAvatar. ''All'' of the characters represent Crowley, according to an interview.
* BadassBoast:
-->'''Harold:''' You're warning me? ''Me?'' I'm '''''[[AlphaBitch Harold]]'''''. I'm the one person you don't warn, Michael, because you and I tread too heavily with each other, and we both play each other's game too well. I know this game you're playing, I know it very well and I play it very well. You play it very well too, but you know what? I'm the only one who's better at it than you are. [[YouWouldntLikeMeWhenImAngry I can beat you at it so don't push me.]] [[YouHaveBeenWarned I'm warning]] ''[[YouHaveBeenWarned you.]]''
* BerserkButton: Let's just say that Alan doesn't like Emory's "[[{{Camp}} kind of talk]]."
** For Bernard, anyone but him and Emory making racist cracks about black people.
* BetterAsFriends: Michael and Donald.
-->'''Michael:''' ''(sings)'' Just friends, lovers no more.
* BiTheWay: Hank, who has a "decided preference" for men
* BrainlessBeauty: Cowboy, in the film adaptation, a fact that everyone else keeps bringing up in his presence. On the other hand, he didn't know what lasagna is. The stage version isn't as naive or ditzy.
* BreakfastClub
* BuryYourGays: "[[DiscussedTrope It's not always the way it is in plays.]] [[DefiedTrope Not all faggots bump themselves off at the end of the story!]]"
* CampGay: Most of the characters to varying degrees, but especially Emory. Done in a "laughing with" way rather than the [[AcceptableTargets usual]] "laughing at", and the characters are treated as people rather than as simple caricatures.
* CastFullOfGay: Both the characters and most of the actors. Ironically, the most flaming queen, Emory, was played by straight actor Cliff Gorman.
* ChewingTheScenery: Michael has quite the craving for scenery.
* ChromosomeCasting: A male example.
* ComingOutStory: Hank, who's in the process of divorcing his wife to be with Larry.
* CountryMatters: A RunningGag.
-->'''Michael:''' Sunt! That's French, with a cedilla.
** Later:
--->'''Michael:''' Donald, you are a real card-carrying cunt![[note]]In the film adaptation, Donald responds, "Finally! I thought you'd never get there!"[[/note]]
* DarkestHour: Most of the second half.
* DeadpanSnarker: Harold. Extra emphasis on the "snarker" part.
** Michael also is an artist at "the read", but Harold out-snarks him.
* {{Dramedy}}: With quite a bit of MoodWhiplash between the comedic and dramatic aspects.
* DysfunctionJunction
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: Harold has quite the memorable entrance.
* FiveTokenBand: As noted by Pauline Kael, the characters are like a "40's movie bomber-crew."
* GallowsHumor: Michael declares that the lasagna the group are eating is actually [[SuddenlyLastSummer Sebastian Venable]]. The Cowboy doesn't know the reference - told, he remarks, "Jesus..."
* {{Gayngst}}: By the truckload.
* HiddenDepths: "I may be nelly, Michael, but I'm no coward."
* InformedJudaism: Harold
* InVinoVeritas: Michael's one nasty, self-loathing drunk.
-->'''Harold:''' ''(on Michael)'' Beware the hostile fag. When he's sober, he's dangerous. When he drinks, he's ''lethal.''
* JadeColoredGlasses. Harold, though he ''literally'' wears purple glasses.
* JerkAss: Michael, once he gets drunk
* LessEmbarrassingTerm: "Notice nowhere is it called hair spray -- just simply, 'Control.' And the words 'For Men' are written about thirty-seven times all over the goddamn can."
-->'''Donald:''' [[HaveIMentionedIAmHeterosexualToday It's called "butch assurance".]]
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: The title comes from ''A Star Is Born''.
* LoveHurts
* TheMasochismTango: Emory and Bernard, Michael and Donald. Michael and Harold? Is there a Sadism Tango?
* MoodWhiplash
* NotThatTheresAnythingWrongWithThat: Alan's unconvincing attempt to tell Michael that he has nothing against homosexuality.
** Of course, the theory that Alan is a closet queen adds an interesting subtext.
* NWordPrivileges: Emory, literally, but all of the characters have no trouble calling each other "fags" and other slurs - with no malice at first. Lampshaded by Michael when he drunkenly rants at Alan some dated gay slurs like "sodomite".
* OffTheWagon. Michael has stopped drinking for five weeks, to prevent anxiety attacks, but falls off the wagon - hard - during Harold's birthday party.
* ParallelPornTitles: ''Boys in the Sand'', a landmark gay porn film.
* ParlorGames: Michael pressures the guests into a playing a game which involves calling the one person they truly believe they've loved and telling them how they feel. This does not go down well.
* PublicDomainSoundtrack: "Anything Goes" in the film.
* RealTime
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech.
-->'''Harold:''' [[IWarnedYou Now it's my turn, and ready or not, Michael, here goes:]] you're a sad and pathetic man. You're a homosexual and you don't want to be, but there's nothing you can do to change it. Not all the prayers to your God, not all the analysis you can buy, in all the years you've got left to live. You may one day be able to know a heterosexual life - if you want it desperately enough, if you pursue it with the fervor with which you annihilate. But you'll always be homosexual as well. Always Michael. Always. Until the day you die.
* RecycledInSpace. ''WhosAfraidOfVirginiaWoolf'' [-WITH GAYS!-]
* SchiffOneLiner: "As my father said to me when he died in my arms, 'I don't understand any of it. I never did.'"
* SelfDeprecation
* TheSixties
* SocietyMarchesOn: An interesting example. The ''play'' first ran in 1968. The Stonewall Riots occurred in 1969, changing the views of homosexuality from a disease to a sexual orientation. The ''film'' appeared in 1970, and even in 1970 it was a window into the psychiatric self-loathing of gays pre-Stonewall that at the time was TooSoon to examine. A few decades later, despite the datedness of some of the psychiatric attitudes, almost all of the actual personalities and dialog still ring true in the 21st Century.
* TheStoner: Harold. "What I am, Michael, is a 32 year-old, ugly, pockmarked Jew fairy, and if it takes me a little while to pull myself together, and if I smoke a little grass before I get up the nerve to show my face to the world, it's nobody's goddamned business but my own. And how are you this evening?"
* TechnologyMarchesOn: Much of the problems in the film would have been solved had cell phones existed.
* TokenMinority: Bernard
** The sequel ''The Men From the Boys'' adds an Asian named Rick.
* UnusualEuphemism: Michael refers to anxiety attacks as "icks".
* VitriolicBestBuds: Michael and Harold. While it isn't clear they are best friends, two moments reveal their deep relationship: Michael's gift to Harold, and Harold's quiet assurance after giving him the above TheReasonYouSuckSpeech "I'll call you tomorrow."
** Emory and Bernard are a type two example. Emory is apparently the only white guy allowed to make black jokes about Bernard, because to Bernard it shows that Emory views him as an equal.
* [[ReallyGetsAround Village Bicycle]]: Larry, much to Hank's frustration.
* VolleyingInsults
* WhereDaWhiteWomenAt: A variant of this is done with Bernard, a gay black man in love with a wealthy, straight white man that his family worked for.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: The question of whether Alan is straight or closeted, and what he was sobbing about when he called Michael early in the film is never answered - deliberately.
* WithFriendsLikeThese
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