The Leather Boys (1963)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Biker Film, Gay & Lesbian Films  |   Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Perhaps more fascinating as a time capsule than as a cinematic drama, The Leather Boys nevertheless deserves attention for daring to treat homosexuality "fairly" in 1963. Leather isn't about homosexuality: it's about friendship, relationships and maturity. But the fact that the film acknowledged one of the characters was gay and was interested in another of the leading characters is very progressive for the time. Granted, modern audiences will find the portrayal of subsidiary gay characters stereotyped and offensive; but the main gay character, Pete, is arguably the most well-formed of the trio of leads, which helps to counterbalance the later lisping. Leather also deserves credit for its "realist" aspirations and for its willingness to look at the bleak options available to many British youth of the period. What keeps Leather from being more effective as drama is a tendency to go overboard in its treatment of the material: a little more subtlety and nuance would have been most welcome. If director Sidney J. Furie can't correct this flaw in the writing, he does give the film an atmospheric look and presents the actors to good advantage. Rita Tushingham and Colin Campbell both do very well as the young marrieds, and Dudley Sutton is even better as the "third wheel."