Vintage Gay Adult Double Feature: Passing Strangers & Forbidden Letters

Co-presented by Frameline & The GLBT Historical Society

with an introduction from Bressan Project co-director Jenni Olson

Passing Strangers & Forbidden Letters

an Arthur Bressan Double Feature

In honor of one of the pioneers of independent gay cinema in the 1970’s and 80’s — Arthur J. Bressan Jr. — The Roxie is proud to host a double feature of two of Bressan’s early erotic works: Passing Strangers and Forbidden Lettersboth filmed in San Francisco and newly restored and digitally re-released courtesy of The Bressan Project.


Passing Strangers

“a real movie about real gay people… it’s lyrical, beautiful, sexy as hell.”

Newly restored from the original negative in a beautiful 2K scan, Arthur J. Bressan, Jr.’s pioneering gay adult drama, Passing Strangers tells the story of two gay men in San Francisco who meet via a newspaper ad and fall in love. The stunning Robert Adams stars as Robert, the 18 year-old high school senior who is the object of affection for the film’s 28-year old protagonist Tom (Robert Carnagey). Tom’s curly locks and luscious good looks seem to make him irresistible to all — as he spends his time cruising Polk Street, going to the baths and the bars — but when Robert responds to his personal ad in the gay paper, Tom finds himself falling in love.

Directed by Arthur Bressan. 1974. USA. 76 minutes. 16mm scanned to 2K DCP.


Forbidden Letters

Forbidden Letters, also shot in San Francisco, is one of the most romantic and cinematically sophisticated gay adult dramas of all time. Utilizing flashbacks, epistolary voiceover, terrific dramatic scenes and a variety of super hot and languorously paced sexual encounters — writer-director Bressan unfolds a simple tale of the cherubic 20-something Larry (Robert Adams, whose sole other performance was in Bressan’s 1974 debut feature, Passing Strangers) longing for his tall, dark and handsome older lover, 30-something Richard (Richard Locke) who is about to be released from prison.

Directed by Arthur Bressan. 1979. USA. 70 minutes. 16mm scanned to 2K DCP.

A man with a hat looks through the eyepiece of his film camera.

Arthur J. Bressan, Jr. is best known for his devastating 1985 drama, Buddies (the first feature film about AIDS), although he would go on to make over 10 films in his lifetime. Working across multiple genres including documentary, narrative, adult and short form filmmaking, Bressan’s boldness and artistry as a writer-director earned him both acclaim and controversy over the course of his decade-long filmmaking career. Bressan died after an illustrious and meaningful life and career at the age of 44 after battling AIDS in 1987. The majority of his films have long been unavailable, but The Bressan Project is currently undertaking efforts to preserve and make them available once again to preserve his legacy.

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Vintage Gay Adult Double Feature: Passing Strangers & Forbidden Letters: Upcoming Showtimes
May 266:30 PMBig Roxie