Montreal Main: A Queer Film Classic considers the brilliant yet neglected 1974 Canadian film set in Montreal's bohemian neighborhood "The Main" and hailed at its premiere at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The movie, directed and starring Frank Vitale, is both a great indie film and a great queer film; a fascinating cinema vérité take on North American social mores and relationships in the 1970s, about a twentysomething photographer living among the outcasts, junkies, and artists populating the Main, and his growing obsession with Johnny, the young son of acquaintances, a relationship that is doomed from the start. Disarming in its matter-of-fact treatment of potentially sensational themes, Montreal Main is a quiet yet powerful look at human relations among the post-flower power generation.
The book, a collaboration between Thomas Waugh and Jason Garrison, details the nuanced history of this peculiar film, which was released on DVD for the first time in 2009. It also considers the politics and aesthetics of the trope of intergenerational love that director Vitale and collaborators Allan Moyle and Stephen Lack so brazenly probed, in a way that would make the film virtually impossible to produce in present day.
The QUEER FILM CLASSICS series, begun in 2009, consists of critical yet populist monographs on classic films of interest to LGBT audiences written by esteemed film scholars and critics. The series is edited by authors Thomas Waugh (Out/Lines, Lust Unearthed) and Matthew Hays (The View from Here).
Arsenal Pulp Press's Queer Film Classic series has established itself as the premiere source of critical acumen about queer film. This year's titles - three inaugurated the series in 2009 - combine scholarship with cultural context, assessing the films sometimes almost scene-by-scene and always with an eye as to what makes the movies relevant both historically and contemporaneously.
-Richard Labonte, Book Marks
A passionate hybrid of theory, film criticism and social history, engaging the cutting edge of contemporary sexual politics. Waugh and Garrison brilliantly explore this forgotten gem of Canadian neo-realism, and in the process, critically revisit the turbulent riches of early seventies debates concerning the representation of intergenerational desire ... a sustained, subtle interrogation of this haunting, enigmatic masterpiece.
-John Greyson, filmmaker
Waugh and Garrison treat Montreal Main with all the complexity that a vanguard film dealing with the relationships between men and boys deserve. They eloquently describe and analyze the film, placing it at the interstices of film aesthetics, sexual liberation history, and the larger history of representations of the desiring body. They ask how it was possible to frame the questions about men's and boys' eroticism and longing, and largely non-controversially, and they suggest why such open explorations would give way not many years later to banal and predictable plots on television police serial. At once a formal reconsideration of a lost film treasure and astute analysis of debates about intergenerational desire, Montreal Main is a "must read" for film critics and historians of sexuality alike.
-Cindy Patton, Canada Research Chair in Community, Culture and Health and Professor of Sociology, Simon Fraser University; author of Cinematic Identities