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The Toilers and the Wayfarers (1995) Online HD

The Toilers and the Wayfarers
The Toilers and the Wayfarers (1995)
  • Director:
    Keith Froelich
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Keith Froelich
  • Cast:
    Matt Klemp,Ralf Schirg,Andrew Woodhouse
  • Time:
    1h 16min
  • Year:
Phillip and Dieter nearly suffocate hiding their sexual identity in the face of puritanical small town values. Joined by a mysterious German relative, the three misfits escape to the big city searching for a place to belong.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Klemp Matt Klemp - Dieter
Ralf Schirg Ralf Schirg - Udo
Andrew Woodhouse Andrew Woodhouse - Phillip
Jerome Samuels Jerome Samuels - Helmut
Joan Wheeler Joan Wheeler - Anna
Michael Glen Michael Glen - Lt. Scallion
Ralph Jacobus Ralph Jacobus - Carl
Douglas Blacks Douglas Blacks - Gym Coach / Man at Bus Depot
Anthony C. Paul Anthony C. Paul - Paul
Johanna Stucki Johanna Stucki - Renate
Alex Cole Alex Cole - Car Dealer
Michael A. Sward Michael A. Sward - Gay Hustler
Kevin Burns Kevin Burns - Assistant Detective 1
Scott Bukowski Scott Bukowski - Assistant Detective 2
James Hulbert James Hulbert - Pastor

The Toilers and the Wayfarers (1995)

James Frank Tittle developed a small track to dolly the camera on. This was needed due to the cramped quarters of "Anna's" house.

"The Toilers and the Wayfarers" is almost classically "indie" -- shot in grainy black-and-white (perfectly appropriate for its subject matter), set primarily in an obscure milieu (the German-American community in New Ulm, Minnesota) and populated by a cast of complete unknowns. There are moments of almost comic amateurism (would anyone *not* notice Udo's absurd "disguise" when he and Dieter are on the lam?) and gaps in the narrative that prompt you to speculate if writer/director Keith Froelich was simply running out of money. There are also fine moments that make you feel you are watching a particularly absorbing documentary.

The whole effect of the movie is knocked rather pleasantly askew by the casting of Matt Klemp in the starring role of Dieter. He is so movie-star beautiful that it can be a tad distracting (especially in view of how much of his body is frequently on display) and his performance gets off to a rather tentative start. More convincing, initially, are Andrew Woodhouse as the more self-aware Phillip and Ralf Schrig as the conniving Udo. But Klemp slowly comes into his own over the course of the film, charting a fall from innocence that is heartbreaking to watch (note, and possible spoiler: the trailers make this movie seem much more upbeat than it is). By the end Dieter quite literally looks older, sadder and wiser -- credit to Klemp, and to Froelich. Worth seeing, and I hope those involved with this project get more work in movies.
There are not a lot of films about growing up gay in Minnesota, so this one particularly caught my eye. It appears to be the one and only work of Keith Froelich, who dedicates the movie to the memory of his father, who died the year it came out. It is too bad he hasn't done more.

For all its flaws, and the surface beauty of his actors, Froelich gets "something" about growing up gay in Minnesota that is quite essential: being frozen out didn't just happen during the winter. It happened in smaller and larger towns throughout the state and the country. His usage of anti-gay language was not merely gratuitous--it was, if anything, tame. The hope of the city of Minneapolis, to which each of the young men goes, was a hope for many of us, and perhaps a place where our dreams of escape came true, and for many others a place of hardness and death. Froelich captures all of this beautifully.

Many have commented on the use of Black & White. In the case of Toilerers, it works to help capture a sense of desolation that is just not possible in color. To me, this choice mutes the beauty of the characters and at the same time enhances it. But it also destabilizes the sense of time setting in a way that was not particularly helpful, as I kept wondering if it was set in the 70s, or 80s, or perhaps early 90s (the film was made in 95).

(SPOILER) Philip's illness at the end was piercing, and connected in my mind to the beginning when Udo's Aunt was remembering all the "beautiful boys" who died in the war in Germany under Hitler. So many beautiful boys died of AIDS, and still continue to suffer. Was Philip one of them?
I loved this film. It was different, unique, and held my interest for all 75 minutes. Filming in black and white always adds that independent touch. I may be a bit bias (since I live in St Paul MN), as the film was set in New Ulm Minnesota, and is filmed on location in Minneapolis - scenes on and around Hennepin Avenue, including one outside the Gay 90's, once but no longer an institution in the gay clubs of the Twin Cities.

The Story: We follow the plight of 3 young (and likely gay) teens coming of age in a small rural Minnesota town. Dieter, Phillip and Udo (who arrives from Ulm Germany to live with his Aunt, who soon dies) become pals in the most unusual of ways. Eventually, Phillips ends up on the streets of Minneapolis, and Dieter and Udo are left to contend with family conflict in New Ulm. Suffice to say, I'll need to visit New Ulm one day. The film eventually leads us to Minneapolis where Dieter and Phillip reunite, and passions flare as the two deal with lust, love, hustling and survival. Udo is pretty much out of the storyline at this point. I can't say much more without leading you towards the ending.

What I Liked: I don't think the film ever developed a "time period", so one must judge based on cars, and other factors. I would say the film, originally released in Theaters in 1997, is set in the early to mid 80's. Though the word AIDS is never uttered, we are left to wonder what will become of our boys from New Ulm, outcast from their families. Hustling for sex in the 80's was not a good thing (is it ever actually). The film is mostly serious, with some humor (mostly thanks to Udo) and is primarily in English, though several scenes, especially early, are in German with English subtitles, which for me, just adds to the film. A nice collection of DVD extras too.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing really, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and will keep it on my collection. It is a solid 9 and since I cannot think of any negatives, I am going to give it a 10.

Final Word: I loved the West St Paul tow truck, the Minneapolis night street scenes at dusk in black and white - and the German humor of Udo. The storyline is tender and heartfelt, and the young actors are stunning in all regards. A great film, go see it.
This movie was done very poorly where the actual storyline is concerned. By simply expounding on the characters lives, adding a little more dramatic fill and by filming this dram in color, this film could have been a wonderful must see work. It is still a suggested viewing work that will hit home for a lot of people young, old, strait and gay alike.

It has been my experience that most gay dramas have sad or violent endings. Although this movie has no such ending it does however leave everything hanging with nothing coming to a complete end. It leaves the audience longing for much more. Movie should have been at least 80min. more with at least some character and/or story line conclusions.
This film is about 3 young men of German descent growing up in the mid West of America.

The striking feature about this film is that it is in black and white. It gives the film more of a "lonely" and "despair" feeling. The prominent use of the German language reminds viewers their heritage, which is a fact that is highlighted many times in the film. It must have been very difficult for these youngsters to live in a village, as they are minority in both their heritage and their sexual orientation. It is also interesting to see the transition of Dieter from a homophobic figure (in denial of himself) to a rentboy for gay men. How his morality spirals down is thought provoking. It is worth a watch if you have nothing to do, but don't expect it to be too entertaining.
As has been stated repeatedly, we all really like the lead actor, Matt Klemp, as it was very obvious that this was his first real project and he gave it his best...which was actually very good. But his "very good" was surrounded by mediocre to bad, ranging from the acting from the supporting cast, to the overall script, which had holes wide enough to drive a Semi-truck through. Also, the writer and/or director really capitalized on Matt's good looks and body to the point of becoming cliché and just gratuitously creepy (would a normal geriatric father REALLY need to pull his teen-age son's pants down to spank him? If the answer is yes, that says something pretty unsettling about the father). While the film is OK, especially for an indie in the 90s, it really just had one good thing going for it...and I really hope he was rewarded (at least monetarily) for his efforts.
An independent "gay indie" film it might be, (Why was it Black & White?) but 'The Toilers and the Wayfarers' was really hard to watch. Even at just 76 minutes, I found myself hoping it was over all the way through. It was as if it were filmed in Germany, and the only exposure to "American Culture" was American TV or movies, as all the stereotypes were out in full force, as were homosexual/racial slurs. It was a nice first effort, I suppose, but so many scenes didn't mesh well with each other and apparently everyone speaks German. I guess that's good for the characters that either speak fluent German or only German. Personally, I've only met a few people in my entire life that spoke German, and here, everyone on the street speaks it. (Another reason, it feels like it was filmed overseas and played off like it was America. The spoken English feels so, well "dubbed.") It goes in so many directions, it's hard to describe, but one story line (of many) involve a teen, Dieter (an "Arch Hall, Jr." of MST3k's 'Eegah' fame) defending his new German-immigrant friend, Udo, from everyone, including everyone who thinks he's gay, especially his newly outed best friend, Phillip. Phillip's so obviously gay, I'm surprised they didn't make Dieter blind as well as just a bad actor. Then, all of a sudden, Dieter himself is gay and Phillip is sick and abruptly abandoned. Maybe he has AIDS or just the flu, we're never sure. (And still, Dieter sleeps with him, throwing caution to the wind – sure he might have used a condom, but protection was never shown.) And story line #56, apparently, Udo is a wanted man – for (???) reasons that might've been in some deleted scenes. The movie was a mess and strongly un-recommended.
OK, most of the actors were bad. Esp Andrew. I cant see how people are saying Matt acted that bad. It was very slow. & the plot/story needed major work.

"Udo" was wanted by the law because he was reported as kidnapping, corruption of minors, etc. That's what was implied.

The chemistry between Phillip & Dieter just didn't take a course that made sense.

I feel you should have seen SOMETHING more of Dieters first time with a "john." even just awkward talk in the car until he agrees to do it.

The policeman & police scenes were horrible.

It may have made sense that Udo didn't know or have time to know why Phillip was sick. But it made NO SENSE for it not to come up when Dieter returned. And yes, the fact that he just left with no reason made NO SENSE. The last scenes & the fact the ending was a jaw dropping "huh?!!!" Just made me mad.

I feel Phillip had Aids. From that moment on needed to be re-written. It could have been a great movie. Watch "Edge of Seventeen" for a good movie of gay youth.

I find it very sad that Matt isn't acting still. I see he's in one more movie, so I assume he was trying. he could have grown to be a good actor. very likable, good screen presence, etc.

Hope you're doing well, Matt.

PS- it's obvious the Director liked Matt also. All the nude scenes, shirtless, underwear, etc. The commentary said they even added the last nude scene at the last minute. Almost Every chapter start is Matt doing something sexual.