Friday, September 25, 2009

Streets of Fire (Walter Hill, 1984)

Starting your movie by flashing the words, A Rock & Roll Fable" on the screen and ending with the epic bombast of "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young" are just two of the many attention-getting touches that elevate Streets of Fire (Walter Hill's phenomenal ode to music and machismo) beyond the realm of store-bought vapidity. Played extremely straight at times, this potentially hokey tale about a trench coat-wearing tough guy who fights for love and money has just the right amount of sincerity to it, that it avoids being a parody at every turn. Filled with neon signs, rain soaked girders, forthright loners and lots of leather, the world Mr. Hill is wallowing in is sort of similar to the one he orchestrated in The Warriors in that there's a kind of dreamlike unreality permeating the proceedings. However, the raucous period piece, that takes place during a nonspecific mishmash of the 1950s and the 1980s, is quite different. For starters, the gang in this film is just one guy. Sure, he employs others to complete the task at hand, but the way he man handled those Roadmaster wimps proves that he doesn't need help from anyone, as it was a thing of ass kicking beauty. (I would wager that at least two of those chumps died of embarrassment during their long slunks home.) And secondly, the soundtrack makes its presence felt from start to finish. From the boisterous crowd pleasers that bookend the film to sweaty biker rock of the Torchy's sequence, the music drives the simplistic narrative hard and fast in the general direction of its righteous conclusion.

The disaffected Tom Cody (Michael Paré) is called upon to retrieve Ellen Aim (Diane Lane), his rock star ex-girlfriend, at the request of his wide-eyed sister Reva (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) after she is kidnapped by Raven (Willem Dafoe), the leader of the Blasters Bombers, a gang of unruly motorcycle enthusiasts. Even though he's proven that he can handle himself in almost any situation, Tom brings along Billy Fish (Rick Moranis), Ellen's manager, who knows the neighbourhood, and the equally disaffected McCoy (Amy Manigan) as backup.

On top of being fraught with danger (the bikers are renowned for their unpleasantness), their rescue mission will include run ins with The Sorels (a singing group lead by Stoney Jackson), police roadblocks, and adorable groupies (E.G. Daily plays a hanger-on named Baby Doll). Of course, none of the people I just mentioned get along with one another, which leads lots of bickering, humourous put-downs and male posturing.

A colossal slab of uninhibited manliness, Michael Paré's Tom Cody ("Pleased to meet you") is one of the most straightforward, no-nonsense anti-heroes in cinematic history. My pussy seemed to get wetter than a Cambodian toilet every time he would annoyingly turn around to utter uncomplicated verbiage at someone who dared to interrupt his rigorous brooding regiment. In other words, his tough guy act is the stuff erotic dreams are made of. I mean, to be rescued by such an unabashedly masculine figure must have been tantamount to titillation torture to those who saw it during their developmental stage.

Viewed from an expandable penis point of view, the exuberant dancing of Marine Jahan at Torchy's was the definite highlight from a heterosexual male angle. Actually, I think almost everyone, no matter what the shape of your equipment, can appreciate what Miss Jahan brought to Streets of Fire, as the wildly physical dancer swayed and thrust the air like a deranged humping machine.

The sheer villainy of Willem Dafoe as Raven was a menacing tour de force. (Mmmm, leather overalls... and the prerequisite back acne that comes with them.) And the fight between Tom Cody and Raven with those axe/hammer things was topnotch in terms of brute strength and unflashy swinging. The weapon itself was rather frightening. I wouldn't want to be struck by it that's for sure.

To be honest, I don't exactly know what perverted subgroup this particular section is geared towards. But I know for a fact that people who have a rational proclivity for women in fingerless gloves will go nuts for the amount of fingerless-ness that goes on in this flick. This tight-knit cabal who love it when fingers poke through gloves that are purposely missing the material of the glove where the fingers normally go will get to see Diane Lane, Marine Jahan and E.G. Daily all appear in a state of being completely fingerless at one time or another.

All bring the digit-based sexy, but if I had to give the sexy edge to someone, it would have to be Miss Lane. The way the light hit her fingers as she mouthed the words to "Nowhere Fast" in those long leather babies was quite the ethereal sight.

I think that covers everything. Let me see: Michael Paré creates the kind of moisture that your house plants have no use for, Willem Dafoe is an asshole, but looked cool in shiny overalls, Marine Jahan proves that you don't need long hair and large chest melons to be sexy. Fingerless gloves. What else? Oh yeah, I thought E.G. Daily's character could have been fleshed out a bit more. But then again, her Baby Doll technically should have kicked to the curb the moment Rick Moranis told her to scram. And you know what they say, a little E.G. is better than no E.G.



  1. I've been interested in this one for awhile; thanks for the straight poop, I'll likely give it a shot sometime in the near future.

  2. Streets Of Fire is a pretty weird, fun 80's film. But the hairdressers on that film should have been assassinated.

  3. Great review. I haven't seen this once since it first came out. I did like it though.

  4. J. Astro: My poop is never crooked.

    Cinema Du Meep: I have no emotional attachment to the haircuts in this movie, so kill away.

    Keith: I didn't see Streets of Fire till much later. But I do remember hearing "I Can Dream About You" a lot on the radio around the time when it came out.

  5. Awesome review--love that screenshot of Paré and Lane in the rain. Hey, that rhymed!

    I'm reminded of another anti-hero in the rain--Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition. However, Hanks didn't make me all hot and bothered the way Paré did. I'm not going to go as far as Cambodian toilets, though.

    Never noticed the fingerless gloves thing.

    "tantamount to titillation torture" That's some awesome alliteration there!

    Marilyn Vance, who was responsible for the fabulous production design in this film, has an interesting IMDb filmography.

    I could go on and on and on about the cast--Bill Paxton and his bad dental work, Bubba from Forrest Gump in an early role, that punk guy from the band Fear, Ed Begley Jr. and his green self, etc.

    By the way, I think Dafoe's gang is the Bombers. The Blasters are the band, you know, in the Marine Jahan scene. :)

  6. Thanks. Yeah, that rain screenshot was thrown in there because I couldn't find a decent pic of Marine Jahan dancing.

    You don't have to admit, but that droplet of sweat Tom sports in the diner scene was kinda Cambodian toilet-esque.

    Well, to be fair, it's my job to notice fingerless gloves. ;)

    Glad you likey. I was gonna dump it, but left it in there for the hell of it.

    Oh, and, by the way, "awesome alliteration" is pretty awesome as well. :D

    Marilyn Vance has an excellent mix of 80s action and teen flicks on her resume. And The Girl Next Door.

    The punk guy from the band Fear is also in The Wild Life (costumes by Marilyn Vance).

    Oops. I guess was too busy trying think of the name of that gang Paré wipes the floor with in Van Valkenburgh's diner, that I lost track of the name of Dafoe's gang.

  7. Heard Strange Advance on our satellite radio today. I don't think I've heard them on the radio since the 80s. Hurray CanCon!

  8. Strange Advance don't get the respect they deserve.

  9. Lee Ving plays Dafoe's right-hand man who also gets to slug not just Bill Paxton but Rick Moranis. Nice! And yes, he's the lead singer of classic West Coast punkers Fear.

    Love this film. So under-appreciated but aren't most cult films? This film is such a strange hybrid, look-wise which probably explains my endless fascinating with it... that, and my cinematic crush on Diane Lane (and her fingerless gloves). Altho, my wife does enjoy the tall drink of water that is Mr. Pare in this film so I can understand sorta where you're coming from on that point.

    Awesome write-up on this film!

  10. Thanks, J.D.

    I just saw Lee Ving play a punk singer in Get Crazy and a murderous biker in Dudes.

    I bet there's millions of guys out there who developed cinematic crushes on Diane Lane after seeing this movie. But then again, I don't think a million people even saw it -- more saw Nights in Rochester. Whatever. Fellas dig her.

  11. Nights in Rochester? Do you mean Nights in Rodanthe? 'Cause Nights in Rochester would be a really boring film. ;)

  12. Lee Ving also played a smug music video director in Scenes From The Goldmine staring Catherine Mary Stewart and Jewell Shepard, which is a nice slice of 80s music industry trash.

    Another music flick from the 80s that is worth checking out is The Running Kind which is about a kid that runs off to LA to follow a all girl punk band.

    I just found the blog and have been enjoying going through all the posts.

  13. Saw this way back when and never forgot how damn creepy Willem was, which I'm not sure he approached again until Bobby Peru. Didn't realize that Marine Jahan was in this one; best known as Jennifer Beals uncredited dance double in Flashdance. Nice! Great review as always. Particularly the "gloves that are purposely missing the material of the glove where the fingers normally go" part.

  14. Thanks. :)

    What can I say? I love fingerless gloves.

  15. "My pussy seemed to get wetter than a Cambodian toilet every time he would annoyingly turn around to utter uncomplicated verbiage at someone who dared to interrupt his rigorous brooding regiment. In other words, his tough guy act is the stuff erotic dreams are made of. I mean, to be rescued by such an unabashedly masculine figure must have been tantamount to titillation torture to those who saw it during their developmental stag"

    Ha, ha, this is some funny shit, gotta hand it to ya! Just saw this movie, loved it, agree with what you've posted here, too bad this film never got around to some sequels.

    Diane Lane had me transfixed...more on this on my review for it which I will be posting some time this week...but yeah, awesome movie!

  16. Thanks, Francisco. :)

    Actually, I think Albert Pyun made a sequel of some kind to Streets of Fire a few years ago.

  17. Michael Pare was hot in this film, Diane Lane was gorgeous, Rick Moranis plays the only character in his entire career that's not a timid geek (I think)...the soundtrack was awesome, still one of my favourite cult movies

  18. Really must give Amy Madigan's character and performance some due, esp. for the line "Everywhere I go there's an asshole...) just after punching out a-hole bartender Bill Paxton.

  19. A great movie that is just as good today as when I first saw it in the mid-80’s.