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Chris & Don: A Love Story

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(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: No Rating
  • Director: Tina Mascara, Guido Santi
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
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Julia Alexander, Tina Mascara, Guido Santi, James White


Zeitgeist Films

Release Date

Jun 13, 2008

Release Notes


Official Website


Guido Santi and Tina Mascara’s documentary Chris & Don tells the story of a gay English blue blood who in the fifties picked up a working-class stud muffin 30 years his junior on a Santa Monica beach and became obsessed with him. Primed as we are by a culture rich in both homophobia and dirty old men, we can be forgiven for anticipating a sordid cautionary tale. It’s a shock—a happy shock—when Chris & Don recounts a love that approaches the transcendental.

Chris is Christopher Isherwood, famous for Berlin Stories—which was the basis of Cabaret and inspires in Chris & Don an unfortunate tangent about how wrong Isherwood thought Liza Minnelli was for Sally Bowles. Don is Don Bachardy, an unsophisticated Californian given to movie-star worship—and most impressed, at first, by Isherwood’s acquaintance with Montgomery Clift. Eyebrows are raised when they move in together. But a fascinating thread emerges in interviews with friends and in excerpts from Isherwood’s diary—read via the magic of movies by Michael York, who played the author’s alter ego in Cabaret. Chris’s ideal love would have to be someone outside his class, who wouldn’t remind him of everything he fled (going as far, you’ll recall, as Weimar). And in Don he recognized a fellow artist—albeit one with vastly different gifts. The young man evolved into a marvelous portrait painter, with an eye for the detail that turns a likeness into an X-ray.