Apr 29, 2017


Due to both political and aesthetic reasons, I have always had somewhat mixed feelings for American auteur Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller), but I can at least admit that the majority of his films, including rough early projects like That Cold Day in the Park (1969) and disastrous failures like his (anti)teen comedy O.C. and Stiggs (1987), are at least interesting to some extent. On the other hand, Altman—a sort of experimental anti-perfectionist that loved improvisation and did very little takes who tended to only use screenplays as a general guideline—seemed incapable of directing an immaculate masterpiece and was not exactly an unrivaled master when it came to mise-en-scène and intricate tableaux. Indeed, many of Altman’s films resemble glorified filmed theater, so it should be no surprise that some of his most potent (and underrated) films are claustrophobic low-budget chamber pieces, including Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982), Streamers (1983), and Secret Honor (1984), which were more or less made back-to-back during a low period in the director’s career after the mixed reception of his big budget musical Popeye (1980) starring Robin Williams when he could no longer find work in Hollywood as a result of being virtually unofficially blacklisted. While many Altmanphiles might disagree, I would certainly argue that Streamers is unequivocally one of Altman’s most unnervingly intense, subversive, nihilistic, and perverse films, even if it takes place entirely in one ugly scantily decorated room that resembles the barracks of some ungodly third world death camp.  A sort of gay bastard brother film to the first act of Stanley Kubrick's Vietnam War flick Full Metal Jacket (1987), Altman's film is also notable for being a rare cinematic work set during the the Second Indochina War that does now wallow in pseudo-humanistic antiwar cliches and instead focuses on the internal struggles and senseless tragedy that arise in a morose military microcosm as a result of fags, crypto-fags, and heteroflexible colored gentlemen being forced to live with one another.  Needless to say, Streamers is a film that, quite thankfully, does nothing to help further the multicultural cause.

Quite unlike most mainstream Hollywood liberal potheads, Altman was by no means a pussy, as he was a World War II veteran that flew on more than fifty bombing missions as a United States Army Air Forces crewman on a B-24 Liberator with the 307th Bomb Group in Borneo and the Dutch East Indies (notably, only 30% of crewmen survived thirty missions, yet Altman somehow managed to survive fifty). In short, unlike his whiny liberal (and largely kosher) colleagues, Altman actually earned the right to bitch about the military due to his own personal experience, but with his (anti)war flick Streamers he managed to achieve something that totally transcends petty party politics and superficial pot-addled pro-peace sentiments. While adapted by David Rabe from his 1976 play of the same title, Streamers was a somewhat personal film for Altman, or as he confessed in an interview with David Thompson featured in Altman on Altman (2006), “When I was in US Air Force as a pilot during World War II, I was eighteen years old. There was always the threat of being attacked by the Japanese, though I was never in that kind of situation. But I remember being in a barrack room and sleeping next to somebody I didn’t know, and that can be frightening because you’re not sure of yourself and you try to act the way a bunch of rough fellas do. Being an individual can lead to a lot of problems. The boys in STREAMERS are in a real pressure cooker. Everything is based on fear. It was more about that than Vietnam.” A cinematic work that makes the first act of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket seem like it was directed by Steven Spielberg due to its refreshingly pure and unadulterated essence and freshingly raw depiction on unfiltered emotional vulgarity and vulnerability, Altman's exceedingly emotionally erratic Vietnam War era exercise in military barracks bickering and brutality is questionably one of the greatest cinematic examples as to why the auteur was a singular master when it came to dealing with actors (notably, the entire cast won the Best Actor award at the 1982 Venice Film Festival).  While Matthew Modine starred in a number of popular Vietnam War flicks, including Full Metal Jacket and Alan Parker's Birdy (1984), the actor undoubtedly gives his greatest and most memorable performance in Altman's rarely-seen film.

 Sometimes seeming like a perversely psychosexual poofter-plagued episode of The Twilight Zone where every single character, whether it be a white bourgeois pansy or ghetto negro thug, is sexually neurotic and seems to rate somewhere between a 3 and 6 on the Kinsey Heterosexual–Homosexual Rating Scale, Streamers is ostensibly about how a small group of soldiers deal with the fact that one of their comrades is a flagrant flaming faggot, yet ultimately every single character seems to be a closet case, latent homosexual, or self-loathing sod. Aside from being a meditation on the perils and precariousness of homosocial behavior in a strictly male environment where being a homo is the ultimate sin against masculinity, the film also deals with the stressful anxieties of interracial housing and the seemingly innate impossibility of a black man and white man forming an authentic friendship where racial hang-ups do not come into play. Thankfully far from politically correct in many regards despite having a vague humanistic tone, Altman’s film depicts a socially discordant microcosm where blacks attempt to dissuade other blacks from hanging out with whites and soldiers rather pretend that their comrade is not a cocksucker even though he’s a raging queen that constantly hits on them in the most shameless, albeit somewhat cryptic, of ways. As many of his films, including his most famous cinematic work M*A*S*H (1970)—an oftentimes mirthfully morbid movie where a suicidal latent homosexual is ‘cured’ of his sexual perversion after his friend guilt trips a chick into fucking the gayness out of him—clearly demonstrate, Altman had somewhat of a fondness for poking fun at poofs, which probably at least partially explains the absurdly awkward and oven oftentimes unnerving tone of Streamers. Indeed, the viewer is made to feel just as unsettled as the characters in the film in terms of the oftentimes suffocating and pathologically sexually schizophrenic nature of this fairly minimalistic psychodramatic chamber piece. 

 Notably, in his October 9, 1983 review of the film for The New York Times, Vincent Canby complained, “STREAMERS, Robert Altman’s screen adaptation of David Rabe’s tough, bloody, sorrowful stage play, is a maddening movie. It goes partway toward realizing the full effect of a stage play as a film, then botches the job by the overabundant use of film techniques, which dismember what should be an ensemble performance . . . Mr. Rabe’s play, one of the major hits of the 1976-77 New York theater season, is confined to a single set, a bleak room in an Army barracks where five soldiers, under the bleary eyes of two boozy old sergeants, are awaiting assignment to Vietnam.” I don’t know if Canby saw the same film, but Altman’s adaptation is indeed set entirely in a single ugly and aesthetically barren room that really underscores the claustrophobic misery and melancholy that plagues the characters in what is ultimately an exquisitely emotionally grotesque ensemble performance piece that really obsesses over the darker side of human vulnerability and the games that people way when it comes to maintaining a generic social identity. Aside from close-ups and a couple tracking shots and signature Altman-esque zoom shots, the film is fairly conservative in terms of its direction and stylization and I can only imagine that it would be painfully slower were it not for the director’s very precise techniques, especially in regard to certain character nuances that are highlighted via said filmmaking techniques. Indeed, among other things, Altman forces the viewer to bask in the dread and embarrassment of a hopelessly effeminate gay boy as he buries his head in a pillow like an upset toddler while he is being mocked by his friends due to his unfortunate sexual vices. Likewise, Altman effortlessly demonstrates the sick chemistry of the queer boy and a hyper neurotic ghetto negro by including close-up shots of the two playing an extra repugnant game of gay interracial footsies. In short, Altman subtly exploits many of his signature cinematic techniques to his advantage and makes the viewer feel like another awkward bitch recruit in the most spiritually barren of military barracks.  For better or worse, Altman's film is like an aberrosexual boot camp in cinematic form.

 Streamers begins with a somwhat understated depiction of a slightly shocking scenario where a seemingly gay and Jewish recruit named Martin (Albert Macklin) demonstrates his dissatisfaction with the military by half-heartedly slitting one of his wrists in the bathroom of his barracks. A fellow effeminate fag named Richie (degenerate Jewish pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s gay mischling son Mitchell Lichtenstein) stops Martin from finishing the job and forces him to get help.  Of course, instead of simply comforting Martin, Richie also bitches at him in a stereotypical gay queen-ish fashion for being so melodramatic. While barrack mate Billy (Matthew Modine) seems to be rather disturbed by Martin’s actions and even offers to help him, his sassy colored comrade Roger (David Alan Grier in a pre-fame role) his hardly moved by the rather lackluster attempt at self-slaughter and gleefully describes it as, “Ain’t no thang’ but a chicken wing.” Despite being members of rival races, wussy white boy Billy and gregarious smooth-talking negro Roger have developed a fairly playful friendship of sorts that oftentimes involves them speculating as to whether or not Richie is an authentic fudge-packing homo.  While fairly militant in their condemnation of butt banditry, Billy and Roger strangely agree that Richie is “cute.”  As men that seem like they might be latently gay themselves, Billy and Roger want to give Richie the benefit of the doubt, but the effortlessly effete queen is obsessed with flaunting his rather refined faggotry and thus naturally does ridiculous things to draw unnecessary attention to himself, including wear a goofy hat that he proudly describes as an “authentic Greek fishermen's cap.”

Indeed, as his incessant request for movie dates demonstrates, Richie has a crush on Billy, but the latter is in denial about this forbidden crush. As for Billy's sexual proclivities, he seems like a self-loathing closet-case, especially after he tells a long dubious story about he and a supposed pal named ‘Frankie’ used to scam queers out of money on a regular basis, only for said supposed friend to later become queer as a result of coming to the following absurd rationalization, “What does it matter who does it to you? Some guy or some old broad, you close your eyes, a mouth’s a mouth.” Naturally, as a cocksucker with a crush, Richie believes that Billy is really the ‘Frankie’ of the story and even goes so far as asking him.  Needless to say, Billy, who is ashamed of the fact that he is a college-educated dork, does not take it too well when Richie accuses him of having a gay past.  In fact, Billy becomes so enraged that he yells in Richie's face, “You are really sick, you know that? Your brain is really, truly rancid. You know there’s a theory now it’s genetic, that it’s all a matter of genes and shit like that? You, man. You and the rot that’s make out of your feeble fucking mind.”

 Aside from the occasional half-ass suicide attempt and drunken buffoonery of certain goofy commanding officers, the boys in the barracks do not really experience problems until a new negro recruit named Carlyle (Michael Wright of Sugar Hill (1994) and HBO’s Oz (1997-2002)) from a different unit begins lurking around and causing problems of both the racially and sexually orientated sort. Arguably the most hyper histrionic black character in all of cinema history, Carlyle is a shameless race-hustler, would-be-pimp, depressed dipsomaniac, and sexual degenerate that soon develops an overwhelming desire to sodomize Richie, which naturally disgusts both the white and black characters. While in the company of his fellow brother Roger, Carlyle bitches that his unit is full of “pale boring motherfuckers” who are “short on soul.” Carlyle believes that the army is controlled by evil white racists and when Roger notes that the First Sergeant is an authentic negro, he sarcastically replies in a savagely smug fashion, “That’s good news, blood. I heard Hitler was a Jew, too.” A pathetic bully that always has a bottle of cheap liquor in his hand, guilt-ridden conman Carlyle loves forcing his degeneracy onto other people and he even coerces Roger into drinking by insinuating that he is an ‘uncle tom’ if he doesn’t take a sip. While ostensibly a bad ass nigga, Carlyle makes a pathetic fool of himself the very first day he is there by sneaking into the barracks late at night while exceedingly inebriated and crawling on the ground with a bottle of liquor in his hand whilst crying hysterically, “They are gonna send my fucking ass to fucking Vietnam and kill me.” Although he wants people to think he is a tough thug that doesn't take shit from anyone, Carlyle is really an emotionally hysterical neurotic coward that clearly has been severely psychologically damaged as a result of growing up fatherless in a nasty negro ghetto, so it is no surprise that his petty determination to prove he is a bad ass alpha-nigga ultimately has tragic consequences. While Billy and Roger go so far as to describe Richie is “cute” despite their homo-hating sentiments, Carlyle incessantly describes him as a “punk” and almost immediately expresses his desire to fuck said punk. Needless to say, Billy and Roger refuse to see such a uniquely unsavory display of bestial gay miscegenation take place in their barracks, but Carlyle is not exactly the sort of guy that takes no for an answer, especially when it is an issue of getting his ‘nut’ from a feminine limp-wristed cracker boy that likes reading books about Ingmar Bergman.

 Despite his fairly belligerent anti-white racism, Carlyle is somewhat willing to critique his own race and even insightfully blames the collective failure of negroes on hyper-emotionalism, stating, “That’s my problem. Maybe that’s the black man’s problem altogether. You ever consider that? Too much feeling. I mean, it’s like he too close to everything. You know, too close to his body, his blood. Man, it ain’t like he got no good mind or nothing. It’s just that he believes in his body.” At the same time, Carlyle's anti-fag and anti-white taunting gets so extreme that even meta-wuss Richie gets pissed and makes the racially-charged statement to Billy right in front of the nasty negro, “He’s one of them who hasn’t come far down out of the trees yet, Billy. Believe me.”  As the film hints also in regard to the characters' masculinity (or lack thereof), Carlyle's beloved ‘blackness’ acts as a sort of artificial pseudo-identity that gives him a misguided sense of belonging, even though other negroes don't even seem to like him.  Indeed, the initial reason Carlyle begins lurking around the barracks is because he learns a fellow black brother lives there, though he has a hard time actually remembering Roger's name.  Somewhat ironically, it is ultimately gay boy Richie that Carlyle develops the closest bond with, thus underscoring the absurdity of his racial prejudices.  Of course, as a man with a massive inferiority complex, Carlyle also seems especially excited by the prospect of sexually brutalizing a smart, cultivated, and handsome white boy, hence the sick trend of black-on-white prison rape.  After all, people tend to try to defile and/or destroy those things that make them feel a sense of inferiority.

 Aside from all the recruits seeming like closet rectum-reamers, middle-aged officers Rooney (Guy Boyd) and Cokes (George Dzundza)—longtime friends that fought in both World War II and the Korean War together—can’t keep their hands off one another and seem like old lovers. Incessantly playing games of drunken grab-ass, Rooney and Cokes delight in mocking the admiring young recruits while bragging about their dubious military conquests. For example, Rooney gleefully boasts about how fat fuck Cokes is a “fucking hero” that took out “47 chinky-dinky chinese gooks,” including one sly young slant-eye that was hiding in a spider hole. Coke also recounts how a comrade named O’Flannigan did not get to sing “Beautiful Streamer” (hence the title of the film) as a result of falling to his death due his parachute failing to open after jumping out of an airplane. Unlike the young recruits, the officers seem to love the military lifestyle as if they are part of some degenerate Männerbünde where ‘boys can be boys’ without the nuisance of feminine energy and pheromones, mammary glands, and the scent of warm wet vaginas.  Somewhat curiously, Rooney and Cokes also have a tendency to sleep together in the same small room.

While Rooney and Cokes only seem to need each other and never once mention the carnal pleasures that they can acquire from members of the opposite sex, Carlyle coerces Roger and Billy into going to “a cathouse that is full of cats” for a little bit of “sex, drugs, danger, danger.” Somewhat ironically, gay boy Richie, who has little interest in the ‘fruit that made man wise,’ ends up paying for the three recruits to patronize the low-budget negress pussy-peddlers. Unfortunately, serious trouble arises when the boys get back and Richie demands that both Roger and Billy leave the barracks so that he can be sodomized by sexually insatiable spade Carlyle. Indeed, as Roger mockingly states, “Richie is one of those white boys that want to get fucked by a nigger.” Of course, the two refuse to allow gay interracial buggery to occur in their barracks and Billy even goes so far to describe Carlyle as a “fucking animal,” to which the hyper horny negro hysterically replies like a savage beast on the verge of murderous impulse, “I want my fucking nut. I want my nut, man! What the fuck you so uptight for, huh? He wants me. This boy here wants me. Richie wants me, man. Who the fuck are you to stop it?” 

 Rather predictably, things escalate terribly when Carlyle is denied his opportunity to anally annihilate the queer cracker boy. An unequivocal ghetto child with a special talent for esoteric street (anti)logic, Carlyle gets so enraged when Billy makes a failed attempt to throw a shoe at him that he takes a knife and slashes the palm of the rather naïve young cracker’s hand. After falling into a state of shock and hiding in the barracks bathroom for a little bit, Billy makes the ultimately fatal mistake of coming back out and stating in what is ultimately his most potent line of dialogue in the entire film, “Jesus H. Christ. You know what I’m doing? You know what I’m standing here doing? I’m a 24-year-old college graduate—goddamn intellectual type, and I got a knife in my hand, thinking about coming up behind one black human being, and I’m thinking nigger this and nigger that. I want to cut his throat. That is ridiculous, man. I never faced anybody in my life with anything to kill them. You understand me? I don’t have a goddamn thing on the line here.” Unfortunately, Billy then makes the seriously stupid mistake of dropping the knife and then hatefully yelling in Carlyle’s face “sambo.”

As can be predicted, Carlyle grabs the knife and immediately stabs Billy in the stomach after he calls him “sambo” in what almost seems like an instinctive reflexive response that really highlights the colored character's racial sensitivity.  Of course, Carlyle does not stop there, as he also stabs Rooney in the stomach after the poor drunk bastard randomly stumbles into the barracks and threatens to stab him with a broken bottle upon noticing that he has fatally wounded Billy. When the MPs eventually show up after Richie goes for help, both Billy and Rooney are already both dead, though they eventually catch Carlyle, who is covered in the blood of his victims, wandering around the base like a chicken with its head cut off. Completely in denial that he has just brutally murdered two people and more or less ruined his entire life in a matter of minutes, true blue dindu Carlyle rather ridiculously, if not predictably, maintains his innocence and even demands to be immediately released, absurdly stating with a sort of quasi-crackhead ghetto elegance, “Look, I’ve had enough of this. Listen, all you guys are going to have to be going now, all right? Seriously. Now, if you just kindly remove these cuffs from my hands. Get me a bus ticket home. I’ve quit the Army. I’m not going to be quit. I have quit the army.” 

 After the corpses are removed and Carlyle is forcibly taken away in handcuffs, both Roger and Richie are forced to stay in the barracks, with the former immediately rebuking the latter for not owning up to being a faggot and, in turn, partially unwittingly igniting the horrific events that took place that night.  Indeed, Roger ultimately blames Richie for all the homoerotically-charged mayhem that has occurred.  Before the two manage to fall asleep, Cokes, who is drunk as a skunk and has no clue his best bud has just been brutally murdered, sneaks into the barracks and then proceeds to shock the recruits by emotionally breaking down after Roger mentions that Richie is a queer. Indeed, upon seeing Richie sobbing like a little girl that has misplaced her dolly, Cokes attempts to comfort the boy by misguidedly stating, “There’s a lot more worse things than being a queer in this world. I mean, you could have leukemia. That’s worse. I keep thinking if there was something I could’ve done, if it was different. If I’d have killed more gooks or more krauts or more dinks—or if I had a wife, I had kids—I never had any. My mother did. She died of it anyway. That if I let that little gook out of that spider hole he was in I was sitting on—I’d let him out now if he was in there. But he ain’t. How am I ever going to forget it? That funny little guy.” As demonstrated by his confession, it seems one of the reasons that Cokes drinks so much is because he has not gotten over the fact that he barbarically killed a goofy gook boy that reminded him of Charlie Chaplin. In the end, the survivors of the micro-massacre all seem emotionally defeated.  Undoubtedly, what makes all of these characters, including unhinged jigaboo Carlyle, seem all-too-human in the end is that they are all slaves of their own distinct fears, vulnerabilities, impulses, and traumas.  Indeed, even Carlyle—an insufferable piece of untermensch excrement that practically personifies all of the qualities that whites cannot stand about certain low-class negroes—comes out looking like a tragic victim whose horrific actions were the natural consequence of a lifetime of ghetto negro debasement.

 From the Sacred Band of Thebes in Ancient Greece to the merry Mediterranean adventures of Lord Byron to the sexually sadistic leadership of the Sturmabteilung (SA) Brownshirts, there has always been a curious link between militarism and homosexuality, but in Altman’s Streamers there is certainly nothing even remotely romantic about it.  Of course, it could argued that the film is just as much about (post)Puritan America’s long history of anxiety and erotic schizophrenia when it comes to all-things-sexual, as none of the characters have a healthy outlook on sex, let alone romantic relationships (which are never even really discussed). On the other hand, despite revolving around homophobic hysteria, the film is also a sort of sick fag fantasy, especially in regard to ghetto negro Carlyle's rather vocal eagerness when it comes to getting his “nut” via an effete boy (indeed, despite what Hollywood tells you, homo-hating is the norm in the black community, thus ostensibly heterosexual negroes that have sex with men prefer to be on the ‘down-low’).  Aside from the most masochistic of homos and cocksucking cucks with a fetish for dark meat, the film is also probably the ultimate celluloid anti-aphrodisiac for the majority of gays.  Indeed, Carlyle is certainly no twink.

Surely, it is doubtful that such a thematically subversive film could be made today, as it features somewhat unflattering depictions of both gays and negroes, as well as naughty words that might cause seizures in the easily triggered. Indeed, aside from depicting blacks as innately racially hysterical and just plain racist (of course, whites are also depicted as such, albeit in a different way), the main gay character is a manipulative masochist that uses a poor ghetto negro as a tool in a feeble attempt to make his ambiguously gay Caucasian crush jealous. Undoubtedly, if anything can be learned from the film, it is that interracial harmony is an absurd communist fantasy and gay men and straight men are from different universes and thus can never be true comrades. In an age where both poor negroes and flamboyant faggots are presented by Hollywood and American public schools as perennial victims and the height of moral superiority, Streamers indubitably makes for an insightful flick that exposes racial and sexual problems that are completely hidden in the mainstream. While Altman might have been a lifelong leftist pothead, but he was not afraid to be politically incorrect and speak his mind.  After all, only a couple years later, Altman would direct his badly botched yet nonetheless sometimes entertaining (anti)teen comedy O.C. and Stiggs (1987), which is notable for poking fun at pretentious poofs, deranged Vietnam War veterans, rambling black bums, and even Mariticide, among other things. 

 Notably, the virtual bible of gay cinema, Images in the Dark: Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video (1994) by Raymond Murray, features a fairly favorable review of Streamers that reads: “Director Robert Altman utilizes the intensity of the theatrical experience with the opportunities offered through film in this adaptation of David Rabe’s award-winning play. STREAMERS is an ensemble piece, set in a claustrophobic Army barracks, featuring four ill-assorted young soldiers waiting for assignments to Vietnam. The men must grapple with their hidden fears and prejudices, which, in turn, generate sexual intolerance, racial distrust and a misunderstanding that leads to violence.” While written by a gay left-winger, the review unwittingly exposes the perils of so-called ‘diversity’ as is emotionally erratically yet somehow elegantly depicted in Altman’s film.  After doing a little bit of background reading, it seems that most reviewers of the film seem to have completely missed the film’s most important insights.  Indeed, in his relatively favorable review featured in Time Magazine, Richard Corliss absurdly wrote, “Michael Wright glides through the barracks like a hipster on a death mission,” which sounds like he is describing some lame counterculture satire like Altman's own M*A*S*H.  Personally, I think it would be more accurate to say that whacked-out homo negro Wright demonstrates his murderously mad racial sensitivity to some uptight college-educated cracker prick that committed the dual negro sin of denying him unhealthy STD-ridden sex and calling him “sambo.”

Despite a lifetime of cultural Marxist propaganda, most people seem to realize on at least a subconscious instinctual level the Orwellian neo-commie slogan ‘diversity is our strength’ is a grotesque lie that is an insult to all of human history.  After all, even Robert D. Putnam—a leftist WASP that is so pathetically deracinated that he actually converted to his wife's religion of Judaism—had to admit in his magnum opus Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000), which he postponed publishing for years because he was afraid to reveal his less than kosher findings, that so-called multicultural has led to the complete and utter destruction of civic, social, associational, and political life (aka ‘social capital’) in the United States, hence the overall lack of cohesion among the largely isolated white majority and destruction of virtually every American city due to black criminality and white flight.  At the most fundamental level, the barracks in Streamers acts as a sort of symbolic microcosm of the socially necrotizing madhouse that is multicultural America, so naturally it is no surprise that the film concludes with completely senseless interracial murder because some poor helpless minority could not handle being called a couple big bad mean words (notably, the made-up phrase ‘white fragility’ is quite popular among contemporary leftists, which is rather funny since whites, quite unlike blacks and Jews, do not tend to commit violent crimes and/or suffer mental breakdowns as a result of experiencing name-calling or imagined racial insensitivity).  Despite the commie lie that people are completely malleable and can be brainwashed and manipulated enough to the point where they magically shed their most intrinsic biological instincts, straight white males will always prefer straight white males, ghetto negroes will always prefer ghetto negroes, and effeminate homos will always prefer effeminate homos, or so one learns while watching Streamers.

More sophisticated and nuanced than similarly themed cinematic works like Jack Garfein’s The Strange One (1957), John Huston’s Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), and John Flynn’s The Sergeant (1968), Streamers is unquestionably flawed but is undoubtedly the sort of Grand Illusion of the rather preternatural self-loathing gay military subgenre.  Not unlike his Sam Shepard vehicle Fool for Love (1985), the film is indubitably one of Altman's most underrated flicks and evidence that the auteur was at his most subversive when working with a small budget and away from the constraints of some big Hollywood studio.  I certainly cannot think of another rampantly heterosexual American auteur that would have the gall to make an extremely awkward film about the dangers and dilemmas of ‘Dorian love,’ especially one like Altman that incessantly used fags as a source of comic relief in his films.  Indeed, when the time finally arrives when some Jewish tranny or triracial feminist dyke academic gets the gall to attempt to discredit leftist cynic Altman by portraying him as some sort of sinister German-American homophobe with cryptic antisemitic tendencies (after all, he dared to wage war against the very kosher Hollywood studio system and even directed films featuring grotesque Yid gangsters), I would not be the least bit surprised if they attempted to present Streamers as the virtual Jud Süß of gay war movies.

-Ty E

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