Rachel Kushner Presents: The Leather Boys
Director: Sidney J. Furie
UK / 1964 / 108 min
Intro by novelist Rachel Kushner
The Leather Boys by Sidney J. Furie is a profound work of art and one of my favorite films of all time. It perfectly captures its time, the early 1960s, a world—the “Rockers” of London who rode British bikes and hung out at the Ace Café—and a social stratum: working-class people. It’s also a revolutionary film in its brave treatment of love, having been adapted from a novel whose plot summary was “Romeo meets Romeo.” The Leather Boys, by engaging almost openly in a love story between two men, shed light on an entire masculine order and its fragility and instability, as well as the limitations on women of that era—symbolized by the rage, ennui, and teased hairdo of Rita Tushingham, in her most brilliant performance. The backdrops of this film are the real London in 1963, populated by real people. The film is, for me, the zenith of the British New Wave. Every time I see it, I’m thrilled all over again, and shattered all over again.—Rachel Kushner Restoration courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome and the American Genre Film Archive.
Read Kushner’s piece on The Leather Boys for The New Yorker.