NPR logo As Buzz Builds for Penn and 'Milk,' It Feels a Little Like Old 'Times'


As Buzz Builds for Penn and 'Milk,' It Feels a Little Like Old 'Times'

The Mayor of Castro Street: Gus Van Sant's upcoming movie Milk has people talking Academy Awards. But did you know that the story of Harvey Milk (left) has earned Oscar love once before? GLBT Historical Society hide caption

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GLBT Historical Society

by Matthew Forke

With the growing Oscar talk about Sean Penn's performance in the upcoming movie biography Milk, it's worth noting that this extraordinary story has been told once already — nearly a quarter-century ago — and to great acclaim.

In 1985, The Times of Harvey Milk won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and deservedly so, for its adept assemblage of news footage, archival photos and then-current interviews chronicling one of the most chaotic periods in San Francisco history: the '70s gay rights movement.

Why it's still a classic, after the jump ...

If you're new to the story, or just fuzzy on what made this San Francisco politico so singular, NPR's Neda Ulaby has a piece on today's All Things Considered. (Suffice it to say that Harvey Milk, the first out gay man elected to major office in the United States, was no shrinking violet. His campaign — and his untimely death — made a national noise.)

So, more than two decades later, why does