Theater owner Frank Durkee carefully read the plot summary of the new movie "Cruising" to decide if the film and its star, Al Pacino, would be a good draw for his 15 Baltimore and Annapolis area theaters.

The summary read, "The case takes Pacino into the colorful world of gay life and into the bizarre back rooms of sex bars." It went on to say the film provides a "background for a murder-horror-mystery story."

"There is no way from reading that letter that you could imagine what's in that movie," said Durkee, who eventually saw the controversial film that triggered mass protests from homosexual groups.

"I was shocked. I got the normal idea of gays [from reading the summary]," Durkee said. "But that showed a side of them I never dreamed existed."

Durkee gave the example of the film "Cruising" to persuade the Senate Economic Affairs Committee last week to pass a bill that would permit movie theater owners in Maryland to screen films before bidding on them.

Theater owners told the committee that they lose money under the present system of "blind bidding" because they contract for films they never see and sometimes the films turn out to be "bombs."