In the fading atmosphere of the New Hollywood era, William Friedkin – the wunderkind director with an Academy Award for his cop drama, The French Connection (1971) who then scored an even bigger success with The Exorcist (1973) – began work on what would prove to be the most controversial film of his career: Cruising (1980). In the process he established a template for a sub-genre, the serial killer thriller, that would thrive long after his film had left theatres, having caused widespread offence among the very audience he’d hoped to appeal to, via a campaign mobilised by the counter-culture press. As such, Cruising can be read as a bitter farewell to the seventies and its cinema and industry. This Devil’s Advocate dives deep into the phenomenon that is Cruising, examining its creative context and its protagonists, as well as examining its ongoing popularity as it turns 40 in 2020.

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