Cruising (1980)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A New York City cop goes undercover in New York's gay community to catch a serial killer.

Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: William Friedkin
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 18, 2007
Warner Bros.


as Steve Burns

as Capt. Edelson

as Stuart Richards

as Ted Bailey

as Patrolman DiSimone

as Skip Lee

as Detective Lefransky

as Dr. Rifkin

as Da Vinci

as Detective Blasio

as Eric Rossman

as Chief of Detectives

as Detective Schreiber

as Detective Davis

as Gregory

as Paul Gaines

as Patrolman Desher

as Martino

as Jack Richards

as Da Vinci's Friend

as Water Sport

as Three Card Monte

as Hankie Salesman

as Bartender

as Det. Schreiber

as Cockpit Coke Man

as Water Sport

as Tugboat Mate
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Critic Reviews for Cruising

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (9)

What we're left with is a movie without the courage to declare itself.

Full Review… | June 9, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

This detective melodrama has something to offend almost everyone.

Full Review… | June 9, 2014
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

What's left is the framework for a graphic, brutal, sickening film, without the violent effects that might have made sense (however illegitimate) out of the conception.

Full Review… | June 9, 2014
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Taking away the kissing, caressing and a few bloody killings, Friedkin has no story, though picture pretends to be a murder mystery combined with a study of Al Pacino's psychological degradation.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Its gamy images inside the leather and S&M gay bars along the Greenwich Village waterfront are both busy and dark.

Full Review… | September 7, 2007
New York Daily News
Top Critic

No one would get away with it now, or even try.

Full Review… | September 6, 2007
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Cruising

Interesting film -- if for no other reason than to see gay stereotypes from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Bold role for Paccino, played convincingly.

Christian C

Super Reviewer


With the 80's explosion of homosexuality in the mainstream, director William Friedkin set out to explore the tension that consumed New York during this time. How a fear of the "other" during this anxious period, so easily manifest itself as hate.

Now, what I just described above, is fodder for a great film. Unfortunately, Friedkin's final product "Cruising", isn't that great film. It often forgoes the dark and compelling for the shocking and exploitative. Friedkin seems to lend as much grace and finesse to this subject that he clearly has a cursory knowledge of. Meaning of course, he lends incredibly little.What the viewer gets in essence is a clunky gay horror film in which a hesitant Pacino slowly becomes immersed in a seedy realm of the subversive gay world.

It's filmed in such a way that it feels like a gay Rome, replete with an all-consuming plague like hedonism that is meant to appall. I mean, why else would Friedkin go to such lengths to make sure the viewer gets treated a nice long fisting scene? Friedkin cuts together shots of a knife being thrust into a man's back with others of a penis being plunged into a man's butt. It is hard to not feel like Friedkin is grimly equating murder with homosexuality. This is even furthered by a certain scene in which blood is seen spurting, ejaculating, on the screen in a theater that plays gay porn. The acts of these deviants are drenched in the blood of countless men.

In fact, Friedkin seems so intent on wanting to shock that he ends up not really saying anything of substance. He really only succeeds in propagating stereotypes, fear, and that if a black man in a cowboy hat and jockstrap walks into a room with you, it would behoove you to walk out.

I find Friedkin to be one of the more fascinating figures in American cinematic history. When he hits it, he cranks it out of the park. When he misses, he not only wastes a good opportunity, he also seems to throw his shoulder out in the process. It is no wonder that after a disaster like this, it has been an uphill battle just getting himself back in the game.

Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

A compelling look at the gay underground in late 70's NYC, with a complex Pacino performance. Unfortunately, there is ample evidence of studio tinkering, especially towards the end when the whole thing simply falls apart. Too bad.

Steve K

Super Reviewer

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