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A Tale of Two Movies Named "Stonewall"

Stonewall2015.poster Stonewall1995.posterIn September of this year the movie Stonewall opened amid controversy, poor reviews and very minimal box office (grossing less than $200,000).  A generation earlier another movie called Stonewall was released in 1996 (poster, near right) that, curiously, was never mentioned in articles about this year's movie.  Both were fictionalized accounts of real-life events that revolved around a  young, white Midwestern boy, new to New York, who ends up participating in the Stonewall riot alongside new-found friends, who were largely transgendered or drag queens.  Each film also had gay directors.  The earlier Stonewall grossed $616,000, or $1.2 million adjusted for inflation, six times greater than Stonewall 2015.  Additionally, Rotten Tomatoes' score for the 1996 version was 63% while this year's scored an abysmal 9%.

 

 

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"Stonewall" 2015's protagonist, Danny Winters

 

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"Stonewall" 1995's protagonist, Matty Dean

 

What I remember most about the first Stonewall was its opening, with three draq queens lip-synching to the '60s song "Boy From New York City"; also, there was a dramatic suicide later in the film.  (And one of the extras in a protest scene was someone I had a few dates with.)

 

Differences between the two movies?  The earlier one was shot on location while this year's was shot in Montreal due to cost considerations (but it still cost $20 million to make).  This year's was steeped in controversy because, in the hyper-politically correct era we live in, its characters didn't represent exactly the ethnic mix that was found at Stonewall in 1969.  The 1996 movie, however, had no backlash that I can recall.  My issue was that the buffed physique of the lead misrepresented the non-gym physiques of gay men of the '60s. 

 

Guillermo.diaz.as.lamiranda. Guillermo.diaz.scandalOne of the main characters of the '96 movie, La Miranda, was 20-year-old Guillermo Diaz, now known for his role on ABC's Scandal.  La Miranda was a gay man who defiantly walked around in drag, and who Matty Dean fell in love with.  Another known character actor was Luis Guzman, who played a bartender at Stonewall.  The two best-known actors in Stonewall 2015 were Johnathan Rhys Meyers and Ron Perlman.

 

 

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Stonewall riot scene, 1996 movie

 

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Stonewall riot scene, 2015 movie

  

 

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