Synopsis: Using flashbacks from a statement recorded late in life and archival footage for atmosphere, this film traces Harvey Milk's career from his 40th birthday to his death. He leaves the closet and New York, opens a camera shop that becomes the salon for San Francisco's growing gay community, and organizes gays' purchasing power to build political alliances. He runs for office with lover Scott Smith as his campaign manager. Victory finally comes on the same day Dan White wins in the city's conservative district. The rest of the film sketches Milk's relationship with White and the 1978 fight against a statewide initiative to bar gays and their supporters from public school jobs.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Gus Van Sant
Production: Focus Features
  Won 2 Oscars. Another 61 wins & 141 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
128 min

This is Harvey Milk speaking

on Friday, November 18th.

This is only to be played in the

event of my death by assassination.

During one of

my early campaigns,

I began to open speeches with a line

and it became kind of a signature.

My name is Harvey Milk and

I want to recruit you.

If I was speaking to a

slightly hostile audience

or a mostly straight one, I might

break the tension with a joke.

I know. I know I'm

not what you expected,

but I left my

high heels at home.

I fully realize that a person

who stands for what I stand for,

an activist,

a gay activist,

makes himself the target

for someone who is insecure,

terrified, afraid

and disturbed themselves.

It's a very real possibility you

see, because in San Francisco,

we have broken a dam of major

prejudice in this country.

room 200.

I'm in the mayor's office.

We are trying

to ascertain what is happening.

As President of the

Board of Supervisors,

it's my duty to

make this announcement.

Both Mayor Moscone and

Supervisor Harvey Milk

have been shot and killed.

I wish I had time to explain

all the things that I did.

Almost everything was done

with an eye on the gay movement.

Hey. Hey.

I'm Harvey.

Okay, Harvey.

Today's my birthday.

No, hey, actually it is

my birthday. At midnight.


And, believe it or not,

I don't have any plans.

Some people took

me out after work.

Hmm. And that would be at,

let me guess, Ma Bell or AT&T.

The Great American

Insurance Company.


I'm part of that corporate

establishment that,

let me guess, you think is the

cause of all the evil in the world,

from Vietnam

to diaper rash.

You left out bad breath.

Just kidding.

You're not gonna let me spend my

birthday all by myself, are you?

Listen, Harvey,

you're pretty cute,

but I don't

date guys over 40.

Well, then, this

is my lucky night.

Why is that?

I'm still 39.

It's only 11:

Come on.

What's your name?

I'm Scott.

Very nice to meet you,

Mr. Harvey, insurance man.

Where are you from?

Jackson, Mississippi.

This isn't Jackson. You can't

respond to just every strange man

that picks you up

on a subway platform.

It's too dangerous.

Hmm, now you tell me.

The New York Police

are the toughest.

They're arrogant

and they're everywhere.

I'll show you all

the cruising spots,

but you have to be very

careful, little Scotty-san.

Are you on

some uppers or something?

No. This is

just plain me.

And you're scared

of the cops?

I'm just discreet.

I know a lot of people.

If they see me,

I could lose my job.

Oh, you're one of those.

Well, I think you need to find

a new scene. Some new friends.

I need a change.

- I know.

Yeah, you're 40 now.


Forty years old and I haven't

done a thing I'm proud of.

You keep eating this cake and you're

going to be fat by the time you're 50.

That's if I ever

get to 50. Oh!

Happy birthday, old man.

Why don't we

run away together?

Where to?

In the past, and still now,

San Francisco was the place

where everyone wanted to go.

To drop out,

to fall in love.

But by 1972, the Haight was boarded up.

Drug filled, crime filled.

The new place

for us refugees

was a little Irish Catholic

neighborhood in the Eureka Valley,

six blocks square,

the Castro.

I cashed my last unemployment

check yesterday.

Well, I hope you

did something useful with it.

I bought

an ounce of pot.


move for a second.

I suppose

I can wait tables.

I don't want you to go anywhere.

I want you

right here with me.

I was thinking

about a little shop.

What kind of shop?

Just a little shop

with a little overhead.

Not too much work.

Just like Morris and Minnie

Milk of Woodmere, New York.

Did you see the little

place downstairs for rent?


What do you

think about that?

I think it sounds great.

A little bit

up on the left.

Oh, it looks great.

Looks great.


You're the

new renters?

Well, hello.

Harvey Milk.


- Welcome to Castro Camera.


Yeah. Like,

you know, I would like

to join the, what's it called,

The Eureka Valley Merchants Association.

I'm not an interloper.

A Jew, perhaps, but I

hope you'll forgive that.

If you open

those doors,

the Merchants Association will

have the police pull your license.

Under what law?

Excuse me?

There's man's law and there's

God's law in this neighborhood

and in this city.

You know, we pay taxes.

The San Francisco police force

is happy to enforce either.

Have a good day.

Yeah, thank you for the

warm welcome to the neighborhood!





Customers, come on in.

We'll form our

own business association.

We'll start with

the gay businesses.

We'll get the addresses of every customer

that comes in the store for a roll of film

and we'll ask them what they

want, what they need changed.

We'll get some money rolling in here.

Revitalize the neighborhood.

Can I come in now?

One more minute.

And I can go to

the neighborhood banks.

They must have

some gay customers.

Look, Harvey, what's with all

this political activist crap?

I mean, I thought you

were a goddamn Republican.

I'm a businessman, Scott.

And businesses should be

good to their customers.

Even if their

customers are gay.

For God's sake,

it's San Francisco!

Yeah. Well, it's just like

any other city in the country.

They hate us.

Real surprise.

We should have at least one

Rate this script:3.0 / 3 votes

Dustin Lance Black

Dustin Lance Black (born June 10, 1974) is an American screenwriter, director, film and television producer, and LGBT rights activist. He has won a Writers Guild of America Award and an Academy Award for the 2008 film Milk. Black is a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and writer of 8, a staged reenactment of the federal trial that led to a federal court's overturn of California's Proposition 8. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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