Shirts/Skins (1973)

Shirts/Skins Poster

Six businessmen who have a weekly after-hours basketball game get caught up in a bet about a hide-and-seek contest.

"Shirts/Skins" is an innovative television movie launched in 1973. The movie, directed by William A. Graham and written by John Herbert, fixates a group of men at a weekend retreat exploring their feelings and attitudes towards masculinity, male bonding, and homosexuality. The film is unique for its age as one of the really first mainstream television films to straight acknowledge and check out homosexuality, at a time when such conversations were thought about taboo for traditional media.

Plot Summary
"Shirts/Skins" takes place over a single weekend in a beach house retreat, where 6 males collect for a reunion of their old basketball team. The visitors, a varied cross-section of American males of that period, are coaches, attorneys, business owners, and a dancer. They take part in various activities such as playing basketball and drinking. However, the liveliness and camaraderie start to fray when a game of truth-or-dare exposes, among other realities, that a person of the group is gay.

Characters and Performances
The ensemble cast includes stars like Ken Howard, Leonard Frey, and Peter Strauss. Howard plays Alan, the reluctant hero who attempts to diffuse stress and keep harmony amongst the group. While Frey plays a closeted gay character named Danny who, after outing himself, faces displeasure and disrespect from his good friends. Other characters in the film are varied in their reactions to Danny's realities- from shock, denial to a few offering acceptance.

Themes and Message
A major theme of this film is masculinity and its different analyses, shown through the varied characters. It checks out homophobia, as well as the discomfort and prejudices men deal with around the topic of homosexuality. The movie sensitively handles the theme of self-acceptance, relationship, and changing social norms.

The central message of the movie is found in its illustrious title "Shirts/Skins", a reference to a common approach of distinguishing groups in pickup basketball where one group eliminates their shirts, leaving them 'skin'. The movie utilizes this as a metaphor for vulnerability, openness, and the requirement for communication and understanding among buddies. The concept is to motivate the audience to dive below the surface area of psychological barriers and face their fears and prejudices.

Effect and Conclusion
"Shirts/Skins" made a considerable impact for its raw and sensible depiction of the taboo topic of homosexuality. It challenged traditional standards about masculinity and male friendships and started discussions about approval and understanding in a time when it was greatly required. Despite its relatively low production worth and absence of prominent stars, the movie has kept a following and created vital conversation for its brave explorations of taboo topics.

In conclusion, "Shirts/Skins" is a landmark movie that deftly combines sports, friendship, and questionable styles into an engaging story. It stands as a testament to the strength of television as a medium for driving social change and discussion.

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