the movie


These days CASTRO STREET is a beehive of activity. It's getting a facelift for a trip back in time to recapture the look of the 1970's. It's going to star in a movie! CASTRO CAMERA, Harvey Milk's photography store is back! TOAD HALL is back! So are DOUBLE RAINBOW and AQUARIUS RECORDS! These and many other storefronts from the past are making guest appearances. The aging CASTRO THEATER is bright and clean with new neon. The Castro sparkles once again!

Finally, after 30 years of procrastinating, Hollywood is making a movie about Harvey Milk. Gus Van Zant is the director. Sean Penn will play Harvey. James Franco will play Scott Smith, Harvey's lover and business partner.

Castro Camera

The present occupants of 575 Castro, the location of Harvey Milk's Castro Camera, have agreed to vacate the premises temporarily so it can be redecorated as the camera store. They have done a good job of making it look like the original, both inside and out.

Castro Theater

The Castro Theater was built in the 1930's and, like the rest of the Castro business district, has been looking tired and neglected lately. Thanks to the enthusiasm this movie is creating, the building is freshly painted and the neon lights have been repaired.
Castro Theater


Toad Hall, the most popular Castro bar of the 70's, was located at 482 Castro Street. It closed in 1979. That location has become a part of Walgreens on the corner of 18th Street. 440 Castro which was formerly Daddy's and before that, Bear Hollow and then The Bear, has had a facelift to resemble the stonework and cedar shingle look of the original location. A Toad Hall sign has been installed that is nearly identical to the original.

I lived in the Castro in the 1970's and 1980's and was very active in the community. I knew Harvey Milk but I didn't understand like he did that we were making history. The "MILK" movie crew is working hard to recreate the 70's look of the neighborhood, but I can't imagine that they'll be able to capture the unique character of the community. The cultural and sexual revolution that accompanied the proud emergence of the gay community in the early 1970's will not be easy to describe realistically yet believably on film. We were so outrageous that the truth will sound like fantasy! The idealism, optimism, and sense of family have long gone from the Castro. Our successful struggle for equal rights put the Castro on the map as a tourist attraction. One-by-one, gay owned businesses were forced out by the real estate interests and were replaced by Walgreens and other big businesses. Harvey's store, Castro Camera, was one of the victims. In winning our battles for equality, we lost our neighborhood! I hope the movie is a success, but mostly I hope it is well done, honest, and accurate.
Uncle Donald

OCTOBER 28, 2008

The movie "MILK" had its world premiere at the Castro Theater on Tuesday, October 28 at 7 PM. It followed the tradition of Hollywood openings with large crowds, barricades, bright lights, limos, celebrities, and red carpets. I was fortunate to be able to attend the premiere and I am elated to tell you that my fears (see paragraph above) that the movie would fall short were unfounded. Sean Penn was a very convincing Harvey Milk. The story was well told and accurate. The mood was that of the late Seventies. I was drawn into the story as if I was reliving events in my past life. I was back in the Castro of the 1970's. I laughed. I cheered. I clapped. And I cried. My thanks and congratulations to the creators of this epic film.

After the movie, all 1400 guests were taken to City Hall for a gala Dinner/Dance sponsored by Levi Strauss. In my opinion it was the party of the year. On Monday November 10, Levi's will sponsor the "Peoples' Premiere" of the movie for the people of the neighborhood.

The picture on the left shows Director Gus Van Sant and Screen Writer Dustin Lance Black on Castro Street on the day of the premiere. On the right, workmen prepare to install a 50-foot MILK poster on the front of the theater.

Van Sant - Black

Castro Theater

FEBRUARY 22, 2009

MILK won two Oscars at the Academy Awards last night. SEAN PENN won for Best Actor and DUSTIN LANCE BLACK won for Best Screenplay. Both of them gave fabulous and moving acceptance speeches.

SEAN PENN said: "I think it is a good time for those who voted for the ban on gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildrens' eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."

DUSTIN LANCE BLACK said: "If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches or by the government or by their families, that you are wonderful, beautiful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you. And that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.
Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk

This page created February 6, 2008
Modified March 3, 2009
pictures © 2008 Uncle Donald