DIRECTOR ARTHUR J. BRESSAN, Jr. |
Born in New York City, Bressan moved to San Francisco, joined a commune, and began making Super8 and 16mm sex films. He was self-taught and never went to film school per se, but went to Iona College and New York University. His first, Boys , only about 20 minutes in length, was made in 1970 about a kid who cruises johns, but is unhappy with this empty life. This is when he met Richard Locke, who was impressed with his film, and opened a small theatre in order to show it. Years later they worked together on several films. He only made 5 (directed) the full-length gay male porn films, but also worked making documentaries for PBS, as well as 3 non-porn, full-length gay-themed films (listed below).
- Passing Strangers - (1974)
It's about a 28-year-old man who places a personal ad in the paper (stumped for what to say, he uses Walt Whitman's To A Stranger), and an 18-year-old boy who lives at home with his parents responds. Much of the film is narrated by the correspondence between the two, but they do finally meet. Fantastic footage of early 1970's San Francisco, including the Gay Freedom Day March, lingering shots of "the scene" on Polk St in the early 70's, trippy hippie scene with a young Richard Locke, and the director himself has a (non-sex) role early in the film. Loneliness, coming out, and other themes are touched upon, most notably the theme of younger/older male couplings (but only 10 years separates these two); he revisits that theme again in his 1976 film Forbidden Letters, and to critical acclaim in his non-porn Abuse (which also explores other controversial themes). Won first prize at San Francisco's Erotic Film Festival.
Stars Robert Adams (as Robert), Robert Carnagey (as Tom), Bob Middleton (Robert's voice), Edward Guthman (Tom's voice), A.J. Bressan, Jr. (projectionist), Jerry Johnson (projectionist's voice), Robert Jerome (TV announcer); on Polk Street: Grant Ditxler, Patrick Lee, Leon McGraw, Darrell Mascall; at the baths: Richard Locke and Eddie Cadena; bubble sequence: David Dehr, Terry Hunter, Chuck Feil, John Thompson, Richard Klingerman, Ralph Osborn, and Wayne Woodcock. Musical score: Jeff Olmsted
- Forbidden Letters - (1976)
Wow. It's difficult for me to call this a porn movie, because it's really a great gay love story. Yes, there is explicit sex - fucking, sucking, cum-eating. Beautifully filmed, partially in black and white, it's the story of 2 lovers, one in jail, the other, younger one (Robert Adams), still living in the San Francisco apartment they shared. A series of letters and rememberances to and of each other, but primarily from the point of view of the younger lover who's anxiously awaiting the release of Richard Locke from jail, and they're reunion. With a heavy reliance on voice-over for the narration, and some original, sorta hokey sounding folk songs (original score by Jeffrey Olmstead), this film may not be for everyone, especially if you are just interested in a quick whack off. But if you like love stories, and are more into quality gay films, this is a good one. Parts were actually filmed in Alcatraz! Also starring Victoria Young (Robert's good friend), Willie Bjorn, and John Gustavson. Appears the VHS commercial release (61 minutes) may be 20 minutes shorter than the original theatrically released version!
- Family Affair - (1982)
updating this page, I found this! Kevin Gladstone, a protege of Toby Ross, directs, and stars in this film as a (straight) married lawyer who fantasizes about gaysex. Arthur is credited with camera/photography work, and possibly on screen?
- Pleasure Beach - (1983)
Probably Bressan's most commercially successful film, and it is also a great film. Two Southern California lifeguards, one straight (Johnny Dawes), and one gay (Michael Christopher), have a conflict-filled friendship until the straight one relaxes and ....... guess! What makes this film stand out is that it has just enough plot and character development to keep you interested; the acting - both leads, Michael Christopher, and Johnny Dawes are good and the chemistry between them is beautiful; and good sex so you hands off the fast-forward button! It got the 1984 "Best Picture" award from the Gay Producers Association of America. And don't forget, beautiful Beau Matthews is also in this film, in a very hot scene with Michael Christopher. (Plus: Stephen Leigh Daniels, T.J., Billy Miller, Chris Burns, Dale Stephens, Merci Davis and Scott Sedgwick ).
The opening titles dedicate the film to Jack Deveau, who had passed away shortly before this film's release. Produced by Sam Gage.
- Daddy Dearest - (1984)
Richard Locke's last film. One of the many "film-within-a-film" plots that I really love, Daniel Holt plays a porn director making a film called "Fuck Me, Fuck Me, Daddy" and Dean Johnson (of recent Velvet Mafia and HomoCorps fame) is the NYU college kid who answers a classified ad from a Daddy (Locke), but winds up "in real life" heading for Holt's apartment after the film is completed. Johnny Dawes plays Holt's ex-lover, and is seen through memory/flashback scenes, wondrfully photographed with a Manhattan picture window as a backdrop. Locke and Holt have a scene, Holt imagining Richard whacking off, then they trade oral. Richard Locke, Daniel Holt, Johnny Dawes, Dean Johnson, Andrew Dupree, Jan Boscamp, Robert Vega. Original score provided by the NYC JAZZ QUADRILLE.
- Juice - (1984)
Juice is a photo porn mag run by demanding sexpot Eric Ryan, who interrupts photographer Michael Christopher with a sexbuddy to give a seemingly impossible deadline: new photos by Monday (48 hours). Eric Ryan and Michael Christopher - talk about 2 nice fat cocks! Michael tries calling up old buddies, but they all seem to busy (with each other) to help, so he's forced to beat the mean streets of Manhattan looking for sexy models, even visiting the local porno house and getting oral from sunglasses-wearing Francesco Lorca as we get to see a porno film on the screen - Bressan's own 1974 Passing Strangers! Michael Christopher in another gentle, sexy performance. Also stars Vincent Thomas, Robert Vega, Jeff Stone, Butch La Cross, Emilio Leone, Jeremy Scott, Andrew Dupree, and Francesco Lorca. Original score by: N.Y. City Jazz Quadrille; and there's a theme song ! ( "JUICE, it's a wild sensation; JUICE, it's an inspiration" )
He also directed 3 well-received "legitmate" films:
- Coming Out - (1972)
Bressanís short film (20 minutes) documents one of San Franciscoís first gay pride parades, which was held downtown in June 1972, with 2,000 marchers and 15,000 spectators. Appears to have been restored by the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project! Yeah!
- Gay USA - (1978)
In reaction to the Anita Bryant/Dade County controversy (and the "Save Our Children" campaign - ughh!), Bressan's idea was to collect footage from as many Gay Pride demonstrations and celebrations in June of 1977 from around the country as possible, to create an uplifting nationwide portrait of the gay and lesbian community with the idea of showing gay folks how important is was to come out. Previously very difficult to find (years back I'd seen only seen it in one place, $250.00 for a VHS copy!); occasionally available on Amazon Prime , but more importantly, recently restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in collaboration with Frameline and Outfest (and available for purchase directly from Framline ). Here's a 1997 review of Gay USA, and an interview with Bressan's sister (who co-founded the Bressan Project in 2018 to get Arthur's films restored, re-released, and appreciated) from 2019 on the release of the restored version.
- Abuse - (1982)
a film student making a documentary about child abuse meets, and falls in love with, a 14 year old who has been abused by his parents. Commerically available, haven't seen it yet, but it got great reviews.
- Buddies - (1985)
25-year-old New Yorker becomes a volunteer "buddy" for a 32-year-old man dying of AIDS - the story begins with their initial resistance to one another, and traces their growing friendship. Excellent film. Saw this when it came out.
Finally released on Blu-ray/DVD combo in 2018 - "The first narrative feature film made about AIDS, acclaimed independent filmmaker Arthur Bressan Jr.'s (PASSING STRANGERS, ABUSE) BUDDIES is an intensely personal study of love, death, and the need for activism during the earliest years of the AIDS crisis. Structured like a filmed play, BUDDIES would be Bressan's final film, as he too would fall victim to AIDS barely two years after its completion. Nearly impossible to see following its brief theatrical release and never officially released on home video, BUDDIES makes its home video debut, newly restored from its long lost 16mm negative, from Vinegar Syndrome ." Also available for streaming through Kanopy.
last update: 01/21/2020