Last night at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, the 33rd annual Frameline LGBT film festival kicked off to a packed house. The opening-night film -- An Englishman in New York , a sequel of sorts to The Naked Civil Servant -- this time follows Quentin Crisp in the later years of his life, after he had jumped the pond to Manhattan and become an American treasure, only later to become the scourge of the gay community for a time, following a remark he made about AIDS being a fad in the '80s.
Directed by Richard Laxton, the film stars John Hurt, reprising his role as Crisp. "When I was first approached about doing this film I said there is no other way of doing it unless John is involved," Laxton told me before the screening (as we were talking to comedian Jason Stuart, who suddenly got a phone call from Judy Tenuta). "I wouldn't have done it without him."
True, Hurt is quintessential Crisp and seems to have aged appropriately right along with the character since his risky debut of the role in '75's The Naked Civil Servant , the film about Crisp's life as a groundbreaking queer activist in London in the '30s and '40s. "That was a huge decision for Hurt at the time," Laxton told the crowd that stayed for the Q&A following. "It could have ended his career."