Milk (2008)

R | 127 mins | Biography, Drama | November 2008

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Director:

Gus Van Sant

Producers:

Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen

Cinematographer:

Harris Savides

Editor:

Elliot Graham

Production Designer:

Bill Groom
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HISTORY

Opening credits feature black-and-white television news footage and newspaper headlines chronicling the arrest of men at gay bars across the United States. The title of the film, which appears after the credit for Sean Penn, follows the opening sequence of Penn as Harvey Milk recording an audio tape to be played in the event of his assassination crosscuts to actual news footage from 27 Nov 1978. The news footage shows San Francisco’s city hall as police arrive and president of the board of city supervisors Dianne Feinstein announces that Milk and Mayor George Moscone have been shot and killed. The main title is then repeated in larger letters than the earlier credit.
       Milk was shot on location in San Francisco, utilizing city hall and various locations in the Castro District, including recreating Milk’s Castro Camera shop on Castro Street. News footage of San Francisco neighborhoods, confrontations between gay men and police and local election reports appear throughout the film, as well as footage of religious conservative Anita Bryant, and the candlelight march in San Francisco honoring Milk and Moscone.        In some scenes in Milk , footage of the actors is made to look like television news footage, recreating actual broadcast events. Several people who were involved with Milk during his political career appear in the film, including Frank Robinson and Tom Ammiano, who play themselves in bit roles. Fellow board supervisor Carol Ruth Silver appears portraying a minor background character, as does Milk's close friend, campaign associate and the film's advisor, Cleve Jones.
       Closing credits feature consecutive pictures of the actors, accompanied by brief written accounts ... More Less

Opening credits feature black-and-white television news footage and newspaper headlines chronicling the arrest of men at gay bars across the United States. The title of the film, which appears after the credit for Sean Penn, follows the opening sequence of Penn as Harvey Milk recording an audio tape to be played in the event of his assassination crosscuts to actual news footage from 27 Nov 1978. The news footage shows San Francisco’s city hall as police arrive and president of the board of city supervisors Dianne Feinstein announces that Milk and Mayor George Moscone have been shot and killed. The main title is then repeated in larger letters than the earlier credit.
       Milk was shot on location in San Francisco, utilizing city hall and various locations in the Castro District, including recreating Milk’s Castro Camera shop on Castro Street. News footage of San Francisco neighborhoods, confrontations between gay men and police and local election reports appear throughout the film, as well as footage of religious conservative Anita Bryant, and the candlelight march in San Francisco honoring Milk and Moscone.        In some scenes in Milk , footage of the actors is made to look like television news footage, recreating actual broadcast events. Several people who were involved with Milk during his political career appear in the film, including Frank Robinson and Tom Ammiano, who play themselves in bit roles. Fellow board supervisor Carol Ruth Silver appears portraying a minor background character, as does Milk's close friend, campaign associate and the film's advisor, Cleve Jones.
       Closing credits feature consecutive pictures of the actors, accompanied by brief written accounts of their characters’ lives after Milk’s death. These are followed by actual pictures of their real-life counterparts over same written statement. Closing credits include a number of written acknowledgments, among them friends, relatives and associates of Milk and Moscone, individuals and organizations including The San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band, The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and merchants and residents of the Castro District. Acknowledgment was also given to the numerous sources for moving and still images used in Milk , including the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society, Getty Images and many of San Francisco’s local television stations. Special acknowledgment was made to director Rob Epstein and his Academy Award winning 1984 documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk , from which footage was used in Milk .
       According to a 13 Apr 2007 DV , directors Bryan Singer and Gus Van Sant were simultaneously vying to make separate film productions on the life of gay activist Harvey Milk (1930-1978). Singer’s project was based on the book by journalist Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk , published in 1982. The article states the project had been languishing for more than fifteen years at Warner Bros., which had brought on Singer two years previously. DV reported that the studio was close to a deal with Participant Productions to co-finance the project with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron producing, based on a screenplay by Chris McQuarrie. In the same article, Van Sant is mentioned as having recently attached himself to an untitled script on Milk by Dustin Lance Blank. The article goes on to note that Zadon suggested that the enormous success of Focus Features’ 2005 film Brokeback Mountain (see above), a fictional story about two gay men, might finally suggest the time was right for a film on Milk. A 10 Sep 2007 HR article announced Penn’s attachment to the Van Sant–Black project and added that the director hoped to secure Matt Damon for the role of “Dan White.”
       In a 19 Nov 2007 news item, DV reported that Van Sant and Focus Features had beat out Warners and Singer, whose production was listed as “in limbo” due to the long-running writers’ strike going on at the time. The article also revealed that Van Sant had at one time been involved with the Mayor of Castro Street project. In a 30 Nov 2008 LAT article, Milk associate Cleve Jones noted that Van Sant was originally considered for the Castro project eighteen-years earlier, when the two had met and briefly lived together. Around 2005 Jones met Black and supported his efforts to write a script on Milk’s life, then introduced Black to Van Sant. In a 1 Dec 2008 HR article about the production history of Milk , Van Sant was mentioned as having replaced Oliver Stone on the Castro/Black project in the early 1990s.
       Although many events in Milk are compressed and out-of-sequence from Milk's real life, the film duplicates several events from his political career, many of which were documented by local television news. Milk did, indeed, open many of his speeches with the introduction used throughout the film: “My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you.” The "political will" recorded by Milk on audiocassettes, and which serves as the film’s narrative framing device, was recorded a year prior to his murder, despite the film's situating the event days before the shootings. Milk recorded three versions for various individuals and the most succinct one was reproduced in Shilts’s book and used in the film. According to Shilts’s book (which was not used as a source for the film), Milk’s main purpose in making the tapes was to encourage his supporters not to react to his possible death by violence with further violence, but to use the event to continue his call to gays to be more open to end the discrimination against them. In one of the tapes, Milk stated: "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door." Milk, who hoped his tape recording would influence the selection of his board successor, emphatically spoke out against gay-moderates, including Rick Stokes, who is portrayed in the film. Board president Feinstein appointed Harry Britt, one of four individuals recommended by Milk, as his successor. Feinstein appears in news footage at the opening of the film, announcing the murders. Although an actor is credited for portraying her in Milk , as a character she is only seen in long shot, briefly from the back, and in an off-screen voice over. Feinstein, as president of the board of supervisors, succeeded Moscone as San Francisco's mayor and was elected in her own right in 1979 and again in 1983. After a failed run for governor of California in 1990, she was elected to the Senate in 1993, a position she continues to hold as of 2009.
       The closing title cards detailing the lives of several of those close to Milk also included a brief account of White's defense, which successfully reduced charges of two counts of first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. Shilts recounted in his book that, after turning himself in to a former police partner and private friend the afternoon of the murders, White made an emotional, recorded confession, explaining that he had acted out of feeling overwhelmed by the financial pressures of raising a family and a deep sense of betrayal by Mayor Moscone and Milk during his time on the board. Varying somewhat from what is shown in the film, Shilts's book and Epstein's documentary noted that White originally had no intention of resuming his seat on the board until encouraged by the Police Officers Association and the Board of Realtors, groups which had great interests in upsetting Moscone's liberal policies. Later during White’s trial, the defense played his recorded confession prompting several jurors to cry, according to news reports and Shilts. White's attorneys mounted a successful defense based on "diminished mental capacity," which, as Milks 's end credits note, the press dubbed the "Twinkie defense," as White's consumption of massive amounts of junk food prior to the shootings was suggested to have contributed to his mental instability. Although the defense stated that the killings were impulsive, not premeditated, White did not deny entering city hall through a window to evade a metal detector, as shown in the film, and admitted bringing an extra round of especially powerful hollow-tipped bullets with which he reloaded after shooting Moscone and proceeding to kill Milk.
       White's sentence of voluntary manslaughter prompted a riot, known as the White Night Riots, by several hundred gays in San Francisco. City Hall was attacked, and police cars were burned and destroyed by the protesters, but police were ordered to take no action. No arrests were made, but several police units did go into the Castro district where they attacked numerous gay bars. One eventual result of White's defense was to eventually abolish "diminished capacity" as a legal defense under the California Penal Code, although the mental state of an individual accused of murder may still be considered. As stated in the closing titles, White served almost five years of his seven-year sentence and was paroled in 1984. Out of fear for his safety, authorities originally settled White in the Los Angeles area, and later he spent several months in Ireland before returning to his home in the Bay Area. White's marriage eventually collapsed and in Oct 1985 he was found dead in his garage, a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
       Milk was selected by AFI as one of the ten Movies of the Year for 2008. The film won two Academy Awards, Best Actor for Penn and Best Original Screenplay for Black. It also received the following Academy Award nominations: for Editing, Costume Design, Musical Score, Supporting Actor (for Josh Brolin as Dan White), Directing and Best Picture. Penn also won the SAG award for Male Actor in a Leading Role as well as Best Actor awards from the New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas Critics’ Circles. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Apr 2007
p. 1, 34.
Daily Variety
19 Nov 2007
p. 5, 30.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 2007
p. 1, 29.
Hollywood Reporter
1-3 Feb 2008.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 2008.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 2008
pp. 22-23.
Los Angeles Times
30 Nov 2008.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Dec 2008.
---
New York Times
26 Nov 2008.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Gus Van Sant Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
"A" cam op, steadicam op
"A" cam 1st asst
"A" cam 2d asst
"B" cam 1st asst
"B" cam 2d asst
Addl cam op
Cam loader
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Generator op
Chief rigging tech
Asst chief rigging tech
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
"B" cam dolly grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Key rigging grip
Best boy rigging grip
Cam provided by
Grip equipment furnished by
Electric equip furnished by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Graphic des
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Ed asst
Avid ed system provided by
Avid ed system provided by
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set dec
Leadman
Set dec gang boss
On set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dec coord
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop asst
Prop asst
Const coord
Prop maker gen foreman
Prop maker loc foreman
Prop maker mill foreman
Prop maker gang boss
Scenic artist / lead painter
Scenic foreman
Stand by painter
Scenic artist / painter
Scenic artist / painter
Scenic artist / painter
Scenic artist / painter
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Prop maker
Const office asst
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des--Los Angeles
Cost supv
Key set cost
Set cost
Seamstress
Seamstress
MUSIC
Mus supv
Asst mus ed
Asst mus ed
Score prod
Orch leader
Score rec
Score mix
Rec asst eng
Rec asst eng
Mixing digital rec
Orch contractor
Asst orch contractor
Orch preparation
Mus preparation
Mus preparation
Digital orchestral timings
Featured musician
Featured musician
Featured musician
Featured musician
Choir
Choirmaster
Boy's choir cond
SOUND
Prod sd mixer / Boom op
Prod sd mixer
Cableperson
Post prod sd services
Sd des and supv sd ed
Supv dial ed
Sd eff/Foley ed
Sd ed apprentice
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff pyro tech
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff asst
Visual eff
Visual eff supv, Illusion Arts
Visual eff supv, Illusion Arts
Visual eff supv, Bent Image Lab
Visual eff prod, Illusion Arts
Visual eff exec prod, Bent Image Lab
Visual eff prod, Bent Image Lab
Anim supv, Illusion Arts
3D artist, Illusion Arts
Digital artist, Illusion Arts
Digital artist, Illusion Arts
Visual eff coord, Illusion Arts
Rotoscoping, Illusion Arts
Lead compositor, Bent Image Lab
Compositor, Bent Image Lab
Compositor, Bent Image Lab
Phone tree anim, Bent Image Lab
Computer graphics artist, Bent Lab Image
Visual eff prod asst, Bent Image Lab
Visual eff prod asst, Bent Image Lab
Addl visual eff, Bent Image Lab
Addl visual eff, Bent Image Lab
Addl graphics, Bent Image Lab
Main titles des
Title prod
Title des
MAKEUP
Dept head makeup
Key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Dept head hair
Personal hairstylist to Mr. Penn
Kay hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
San Francisco casting
Casting assoc
San Francisco casting assoc
Casting asst
San Francisco casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting
Unit prod mgr
Exec in charge of prod
Post prod supv
Historical consultant
Historical photo consultant
Archival film researcher
Scr supv
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Payroll accountant
Accounting asst
Accounting asst
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod office asst
Prod office asst
Prod office asst
Prod office asst
Loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst to Mr. Van Sant
Asst to Mr. Van Sant
Asst to Mr. Jinks and Mr. Cohen
Asst to Mr. London
Asst to Ms. Papandrea
Asst to Mr. Penn
Key set prod asst
Unit pub
Set medic
Set medic
Head chef
Asst chef
Lead craft service
Crafts service asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt--Los Angeles
Transportation capt--San Francisco
Driver for Mr. Penn
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Studio teacher
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
American Humane Association representative
Rights and clearances
Rights and clearances
Rights and clearances
Business and legal affairs
Business and legal affairs
Business and legal affairs
Business and legal affairs
Business and legal affairs
Chief exe officer, Groundswell Productions
Pres, Groundswell Productions
Chief operating officer, Groundswell Productions
Head of physical prod, Groundswell Productions
Sr vice pres, prod, Groundswell Productions
Vice pres, Groundswell Productions
Prod exec, Groundswell Productions
Asst to Mr. London, Groundswell Productions
Asst to Ms. Papandrea, Groundswell Productions
Asst to Mr. Fischer, Groundswell Productions
Asst to Mr. Pipski, Groundswell Productions
Completion guaranty provided by
Insurance services provided by
Payroll services provided by
Prod in assoc with
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stand-in for Mr. Penn
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital Intermediate
Digital intermediate colorist, EFILM
Digital intermediate prod, EFILM
Digital intermediate ed, EFILM
Colorist asst, EFILM
Digital intermediate asst prod, EFILM
Digital opt, EFILM
Technicolor dailies colorist
SOURCES
SONGS
Prelude No. 7 in E-flat from The Well Tempered Clavier , Book II BWV 876 by Johann Sebastian Bach, arranged by Ward Swingle, performed by The Swingle Singers, courtesy of Universal International Music, B.V. under license from Universal Music Enterprises
“Kalinka (Little Snowfall)” by Ivan Petrovich Larionov, performed by Vienna Choir Boys, courtesy of Koch International
“Queen Bitch,” written by David Bowie, performed by David Bowie, courtesy of RZO Music
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SONGS
Prelude No. 7 in E-flat from The Well Tempered Clavier , Book II BWV 876 by Johann Sebastian Bach, arranged by Ward Swingle, performed by The Swingle Singers, courtesy of Universal International Music, B.V. under license from Universal Music Enterprises
“Kalinka (Little Snowfall)” by Ivan Petrovich Larionov, performed by Vienna Choir Boys, courtesy of Koch International
“Queen Bitch,” written by David Bowie, performed by David Bowie, courtesy of RZO Music
“Ah, Quegli Occhi! Quale Occhio al Mondo” from Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Maria Callas, Giuseppe Di Stefano and the Orchestra Del Teatro All Scala, conducted by Victor De Sabata, courtesy of EMI Classics under license from EMI Film & Television Music
“Rock the Boat,” written by Wally Holmes, performed by The Hues Corporation, courtesy of JiMi Lane Music
“Takin’ My Time,” written by Robert Hackl and Ken Stange, performed by Victoria Hamilton
"E Lucevan le Stelle” from Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Giuseppe Di Stefano and the Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, conducted by Victor De Sabata, courtesy of EMI Classic under license from EMI Film & Television Music
“Hello Hello,” written by Peter Kraemer and Terry McNeil, performed by The Sopwith Camel, courtesy of Buddah Records by arrangement with SONY BMG Music Entertainment
“Mia Gelosa!” from Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Maria Callas, Giuseppe De Stefano and the Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, conducted by Victor De Sabata, courtesy of EMI Classic under license from EMI Film & Television Music
"Everyday People," written by Sylvester Stewart, performed by Sly & the Family Stone, courtesy of Epic Records by arrangement with SONY BMG Music Entertainment
“Love in C Minor,” written by Alec Costandinos and Cerrone, performed by Cerrone, courtesy of Malligator Productions S.a.r.l. by arrangement with The Licensing Partnership UK Ltd.
“Wake Up, San Francisco,” written by Ken Stange and Robert Hackl, performed by Sourcerer
“Till Victory,” written by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, performed by Patti Smith Group, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc. by arrangement with SONY BMG Music Entertainment
“The Player,” written by Alan Felder and Norman Harris, performed by First Choice, courtesy of Brookside Music Corp., o/b/o Philly Groove Records, Inc. by arrangement with Reid Whitelaw Productions
"Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" K535 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arranged by Ward Swingle, performed by The Swingle Singers, courtesy of Universal International Music B.V. under license from Universal Music Enterprises
“Happy Birthday to You,” written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” written by Sylvester James and James Wirrick, performed by Sylvester, courtesy of Concord Music Group, Inc.
“Over the Rainbow,” written by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen, performed by Judy Garland, courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
“The Washington Post March,” written by John Philip Sousa
“Presto, su! Mario! Mario!” by Giacomo Puccini, performed by The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Rahbari, courtesy of Naxos by arrangement with Source/Q
“Walk Through ‘Resonant Landscape’ No. 2,” written and performed by Frances White, courtesy of Mode Records.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
November 2008
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 26 November 2008
Production Date:
started January 2008 in San Francisco
Copyright Claimant:
Axon Film Finance I, LLC & Milk Productions, LLC.
Copyright Date:
10 January 2008
Copyright Number:
V3561D716
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital; dts in selected theatres
Color
deluxe
Lenses/Prints
deluxe; Kodak
Duration(in mins):
127
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
44714
SYNOPSIS

In November 1978, ten days before his murder, San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk sits at his kitchen table making an audio recording to be played only in the event of his assassination. As the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the nation, Harvey acknowledges that he could be a victim of the hatred and homophobia still rampant throughout the country, but wants to leave behind an accurate record of his political experiences: Eight years earlier, in the New York City subway, Harvey, an insurance agent, picks up the charming and much younger Scott Smith. After the two have sex at Harvey’s apartment, he reveals that he is turning forty at midnight and laments that he has accomplished nothing with his life. He then expresses doubt that he will live to be fifty. When Scott encourages him to “change scenes,” Harvey agrees and soon after grows a beard and long hair and moves to San Francisco with Scott. Excited by the vibrant energy of the hippies in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and the burgeoning gay neighborhood on Castro street, Harvey and Scott open a camera store there. Despite being rebuffed by the neighborhood merchants, the men are completely open about their homosexuality, and Harvey resolves to form a gay business association to invigorate the community. Harvey’s eagerness draws several young men to the Castro Camera store including teenaged photographer Danny Nicoletta, Harvard graduate Jim Rivaldo, his friend Dick Pabich, Dennis Peron and, later, Michael Wong. Shrewdly assessing that gays would gain strength by demonstrating their economic clout, Harvey readily befriends the teamster representative of ... +


In November 1978, ten days before his murder, San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk sits at his kitchen table making an audio recording to be played only in the event of his assassination. As the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the nation, Harvey acknowledges that he could be a victim of the hatred and homophobia still rampant throughout the country, but wants to leave behind an accurate record of his political experiences: Eight years earlier, in the New York City subway, Harvey, an insurance agent, picks up the charming and much younger Scott Smith. After the two have sex at Harvey’s apartment, he reveals that he is turning forty at midnight and laments that he has accomplished nothing with his life. He then expresses doubt that he will live to be fifty. When Scott encourages him to “change scenes,” Harvey agrees and soon after grows a beard and long hair and moves to San Francisco with Scott. Excited by the vibrant energy of the hippies in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and the burgeoning gay neighborhood on Castro street, Harvey and Scott open a camera store there. Despite being rebuffed by the neighborhood merchants, the men are completely open about their homosexuality, and Harvey resolves to form a gay business association to invigorate the community. Harvey’s eagerness draws several young men to the Castro Camera store including teenaged photographer Danny Nicoletta, Harvard graduate Jim Rivaldo, his friend Dick Pabich, Dennis Peron and, later, Michael Wong. Shrewdly assessing that gays would gain strength by demonstrating their economic clout, Harvey readily befriends the teamster representative of the truck drivers’ union, Allan Baird, who asks if Harvey might unite gays in boycotting beer companies refusing to renew union contracts. When Allan agrees to provide jobs for gay drivers in exchange for support, Harvey and his friends organize a ban in gay bars, concentrating on Coors beer when the company refuses to give in. Frustrated when Scott is injured in a police harassment assault, Harvey complains that gays must organize and fight prejudice as African Americans have done. Soon after Harvey announces his decision to run for city supervisor. During his campaign, which Scott manages, Harvey meets spunky young Cleve Jones, a hustler who rejects the older man’s invitation to defeat homophobia through activism. Later, Harvey and Scott call upon prominent attorney and gay journal publisher David Goodstein and his lover, wealthy civil rights lawyer Rick Stokes, seeking an endorsement. Chiding Harvey for his grass-roots efforts, Goodstein explains that they have made progress on gay rights by financially supporting gay-friendly liberal candidates and avoiding the overt lifestyle that characterizes the Castro district with its bathhouses and partying. Insisting that it is time for “one of their own” to be elected, Harvey retracts his request for support and maintains that the gay movement is more important, than any one individual. Although Harvey loses the election, he is determined to try again, this time cutting his hair and beard and wearing conservative suits. Despite losing again in the following year’s election, Harvey is heartened by the increase in votes and doggedly runs a third time. When Harvey’s campaign to “beat the machine” angers the Democratic party and their representative, Art Agnos, Harvey runs for the California State Assembly against Agnos. After a one-on-one debate, Agnos advises Harvey that his campaign is “depressing” and suggests that instead of continually emphasizing what he is against, he should clarify what he is for. Although Harvey loses to Agnos, Dick urges him to a run for supervisor as a new initiative will realign districts placing the Castro and Haight areas in Harvey’s district. Aware that Scott has grown weary of the unending campaigning, Harvey hesitates. To Harvey’s surprise, young Cleve returns to the camera shop. After revealing that while visiting Spain, he was astounded to witnesses a group of gays resist violence during a gay march, Cleve says that he now is motivated to activism. Soon after, Harvey and his friends watch a Florida election centering on an initiative to repeal a four-month-old ordinance protecting gays against job discrimination. Led by singer turned religious conservative spokeswoman Anita Bryant and the Christian backed Moral Majority, the initiative passes, angering gays throughout San Francisco. Applying Agnos’s advice, Harvey makes “hope” his campaign message for his fourth run for supervisor this time against Rick Stokes in the newly aligned District 5. Meanwhile, former policeman and fireman Dan White runs in the working-class, conservative, white District 8, proclaiming that it is time to end the “malignancies” of radicals and social deviates blighting the city. Admitting that he can no longer deal with Harvey’s dedication to politics, Scott breaks with him and moves out. Despite his sadness over Scott, Harvey nevertheless throws himself into his new campaign and recruits lesbian Anne Kronenberg as his new campaign manager. Mildly scorned by Harvey’s support team, Anne nevertheless impresses everyone when she garners Harvey an endorsement in the all important San Francisco Chronicle . When the others go off to celebrate, Harvey remains in the shop, where he meets a drunken but appealing Jack Lira, and the men begin an affair that night. Harvey wins the November 1977 elections and both he and Dan are sworn in by Mayor George Moscone the following January. Assessing that Dan’s severe political stance might be softened by friendly debate, Harvey agrees to appear on a morning television show with him, even though his aids assure him that the former fireman is too rigid ever to adjust his views. Surprised when Dan invites Harvey and the other supervisors to the christening of his son, Harvey attends and is the only supervisor to do so. After the ceremony, Dan asks Harvey if he will help him block the building of a psychiatric center in his district, and Harvey vows to work with him. Soon after, Anne informs Harvey that Bryant’s conservative group is supporting an initiative by California Senator John Briggs to fire all gay teachers and anyone who supports them. Despite Jack’s continual hostility to Harvey’s long hours, Harvey enthusiastically takes on the religiously conservative Briggs and proposition 6. In a meeting with Representative Phil Burton, Goodstein, Stokes and others who had formed two gay-friendly groups against Briggs, Harvey angrily denounces Burton’s anti-proposition 6 brochure, which mentions human rights but avoids references to gays. Later, at a meeting with volunteers and supporters, Harvey insists that gay power lies in being as visible as possible. At city hall, Dan is angered when Harvey refuses to vote against the psychiatric center and laments what he views as the shifty nature of politics. After the Moral Majority scores successes in Iowa and Kansas in repealing employment protection for gays, Harvey, in need of a modest issue to create positive publicity and visibility in the city, proposes an ordinance to clean up city parks of dog feces. Later, when a gay rights, anti-discrimination ordinance put together by Harvey and fellow liberal supervisor Carol Ruth Silver comes to a board vote, Dan, still resentful over Harvey’s betrayal on the psychiatric center, is the only one to vote against it. When a victorious Harvey then visits Dan’s office, Dan bitterly scoffs that Harvey only offers help if he can get something in return. Dan then challenges Harvey to introduce a supervisor pay raise measure, pointing out that while as Dan cannot raise a family on his meager salary, it is an issue that Harvey does not face. Harvey celebrates his forty-eighth birthday and the passage of the anti-discrimination measure with a large party at city hall where Scott mildly chastens him for continuing to live with the erratic, petulant Jack. To Harvey’s surprise, at the party’s end, a drunken Dan appears and praises the popular dog park ordinance, then acknowledges to Harvey that he has a political advantage by having a ready issue in being gay. Some time later, appearing in the gay pride parade despite a death threat, Harvey gives an impassioned speech on the steps of city hall about breaking down cultural and social myths, asserting that the U. S. constitution also serves gays. Meanwhile, Dan is interviewed on television criticizing nudity in the gay parade. After challenging Briggs to a debate, Harvey squares off with him in northern California where Briggs compares homosexuality to bestiality and insists that gays want to “recruit” straight children. Later, Harvey insists on a second debate in the heart of religious-conservative Orange County. On the afternoon of the city park ordinance vote, Harvey is distracted by Jack repeatedly telephoning him, demanding to know exactly when he is returning home. Running into Dan afterward, Harvey attempts to discuss voting issues, but Dan insists he will note trade votes, but follow his conscience and will not be demeaned or humiliated. At home later, Harvey finds the stairwell papered with handwritten notes from Jack, then, to his horror, discovers that Jack has hanged himself. Determined to fight on, Harvey continues organizing against the Briggs initiative, but his supporters remain concerned about the possibility of defeating it. On the night of the elections, Harvey and the others are stunned to learn that proposition 6 has not only been defeated in San Francisco but throughout California. In a celebratory speech afterward, Harvey emphasizes that the defeat has given hope to many persecuted gays. A few days later, a frustrated Dan resigns from the board of supervisors, only to change his mind ten days later and request that Moscone reinstate him. Suspecting that Dan has been coerced by the conservative police association, Harvey meets with Moscone to insist that Dan, the board’s main obstructionist, not be reappointed. A few days later, Dan learns from a reporter that Moscone has decided not to reinstate him. The following morning, Dan goes to city hall, entering through a ground level window. Upon meeting with Moscone, Dan pleads for reinstatement. When rejected, he takes out his a pistol and shoots the mayor. Walking to the opposite end of the building, Dan then asks Harvey to step into his old office and, without comment, shoots him. That night, when a stunned Anne and Scott arrive at a sparsely attended memorial service at city hall, Scott bitterly wonders if anyone cares. Walking back to the Castro, however, the pair is stunned to come upon a candlelight parade of thousands of mourners quietly making their way to city hall to honor Harvey and Moscone. At the close of his audio recording, Harvey recalls receiving a telephone call from a young man in Altoona, Pennsylvania thanking him for his work for gay rights and Harvey’s final plea is that gays must have hope. +

Legend
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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.