Filmmaker Seth Randal’s “The Fall of ’55,” will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, sponsored by the Boise 150 sesquicentennial celebration and Opera Idaho. Randal’s Facebook page includes clips from the film, which drew an overflow crowd to its premier at the Egyptian in 2006.
The film explores the overreaction to an alleged gay sex ring, which put Boise on the cover of Time Magazine and prompted hysterical editorials in the Idaho Statesman, including one headlined, “Crush the Monster.” The scare was the subject of the 1965 book, “The Boys of Boise,” by John Gerassi.
Police interviewed almost 1,500 people in a city that then had a population of 34,000. In the end, 16 men were arrested, some for consensual sex. Nine were convicted on charges including lewd and lascivious conduct with children under 16 and infamous crimes against nature. One was sentenced to life. There were reports of an underworld that victimized hundreds of underage boys, but the number dwindled to four or five, some of whom were paid for sex.
Opera Idaho follows up Friday and Sunday with the American opera, “Susannah” by Carlisle Floyd, which explores McCarthyism. Both performances are at the Egyptian, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $15 to $69.
As in 2006, I will participate in a panel discussion following the film. Hope to see you there.