a/perture cinema, the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables presents The Less Desirables Movie of the week, The Warriors (1979), starring Michael Beck, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly and Deborah Van Valkenburgh.
Per IMDb: “In 1979 a charismatic leader summons the street gangs of New York City in a bid to take it over. When he is killed, The Warriors are falsely blamed and now must fight their way home while every other gang is hunting them down to kill them.”
Cyrus, leader of the most powerful gang in NYC, calls a late night summit of most New York area gangs, requesting they send nine “delegates,” unarmed, to a park. The Warriors attend the summit. Cyrus tries to propose a permanent citywide truce and alliance that would allow the gangs to control the city; one gang. The idea accepted by most of the gangs, but Luther (Kelly), leader of the Rogues, has a gun smuggled in and shoots Cyrus dead. In the middle of the chaos, Luther fingers the Warriors’ leader Cleon as the shooter, and Cleon is overcome by the Riffs. The other Warriors escape and have no idea they’re even implicated in Cyrus’ demise. With the use of a radio DJ, the Riffs put out a hit on the Warriors. Swan (Beck), the Warriors’ “war chief”, takes charge of the group as they try to make it back home. Along the way, they have to fight many of the other gangs and the cops to get to Coney Island, their home turf. Some of them make it and some of them don’t.
The overall feel of this film was like a bad Broadway musical. That’s probably the Sharks/Jets feel of it but it wasn’t the same storyline. There was a huge cheese and over-the-top feel to the film, mostly because of the bad acting, the 1979 view on the gang world and the gangs in it. Here’s a little description of some of the gangs: The Hi-hats – A gang of mimes, in red shirts with stripes, suspenders and top hats (the hats were nice touch). The Baseball Furies – They wear face paint and pinstripe baseball uniform and carry baseball bats as weapons. The Punks – Wear denim overalls and rugby-style shirts with their leader wearing roller skates (ain’t that some shite?). The Boppers – They are all African American, wear stylish fedoras, black shirts and ties, purple vests, and khaki slacks. The Baseball Furies – They wear face paint and pinstripe baseball uniform and carry baseball bats as weapons. The Savage Huns – Dressed as Chinese peasants. The Moonrunners – Dressed in running suits with pink tank tops and red shirts.
And then, there’s The Orphans, a street gang that look like they actually live on the streets, wearing drab colors and unbathed. They were referred to as a minor league team by the radio DJ (played by Lynne Thigpen, although you never saw more than her mouth at a microphone) that kept the gangs abreast of the Warriors success. They’re also so un-thought of that they weren’t even invited to the gang summit by the Riffs. The confrontation with the Orphans is where the Warriors picked up Mercy (Van Valkenburgh). Deborah Van Valkenburgh, for those who don’t know the name, and are old enough to remember the sitcom, Too Close for Comfort, that starred Ted Knight, she was the brunette daughter, Jackie.
David Patrick Kelly, who played the heavy was best known to me for two roles: Jerry Horne in Twin Peaks and “T-Bird” in The Crow. James Remar, a powerful character actor, one that you know as soon as you see him in anything has been in many movies (including heavies in Cotton Club and 48 Hrs) and on TV. Although I never watched Sex in the City, he was Samantha’s billionaire boyfriend and was on Dexter, as well.
The film was gritty and dirty, but it was a film about the 70s in New York City so, as I’ve mentioned before, I love that stuff. And, I’ve never even been to NYC. And whilst I say it’s cheesy and makes like a Broadway musical, don’t mistake that for not liking it. It was entertaining and somewhat comical, but I get the feeling the idea was to not take itself too seriously. It did a good job on that. The fact that gangs were running around in colors with weapons in their hands (they earned them along the way) on nearly empty streets in NYC was a bit odd. I’ll admit I know very little about gangs and how they really work, but this was quite out in the open. I mean, an old school bus of skinheads (of all ethnic backgrounds) hanging out of, off of and on to the thing with chains, planks, knives and pipes…? Doesn’t that seem like an odd thing to be doing out in the open? But, again, there was no one there. The subways were all empty, too. I dunno.
Rotten Tomatoes has the film at 91% Fresh with an Audience Score of 89% so that’s pretty spot on for critics vs. audience. IMDb has it at 7.7 stars out of 10. I have already stated that it was cheesy and delicious all at the same time. It wasn’t well received when it came out but became a cult classic. I don’t know how I didn’t know about it but I didn’t. I do recommend it if you want something entertaining. Who knows you may get a chuckle out of it, too. I saw it on Netflix and rate it 3.5 stars. Have you seen it? What did you think and what would you want me to review?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Can you dig it?” – Cyrus