Streets of Fire
Directed by Walter Hill
Written by Larry Gross and Walter Hill
Starring Michael Pare, Diane Lane, Amy Madigan, Rick Moranis, Bill Paxton and Willem Dafoe
When it comes to discussing Streets of Fire, I realize it's something I can not, nor should not, do alone. Within sentences, I'd be reduced to a drooling fanboy, reverting to nothing more than Chris Farley's character from Saturday Night Live. And no, that would not be "awesome."
So I've recruited my friend and fellow writer Matt Constantine. His love for this movie might actually exceed my own. At the very least, he can claim he owned the DVD first. So quite possibly that gives him one up on me.
This conversation was conducted over Facebook, with each of us posting a comment, waiting for a reply, then going back and forth. Perhaps not the easiest way to do this (phone call) but it should have given us each a chance to maintain our composure. Didn't really work. Enjoy, and please, comment.
Dan: Is there any better way to start a film? This is the Saving Private Ryan of Concerts. Big biker gang decends upon concert hall and kidnaps the headliner, all on the orders of Willem Dafoe. Where was the security on this place? I realize it's only Diane Lane, but they make her out to be a pretty big deal. I'd think there would be people bigger than Rick Moranis looking out for her.
Matt: Well, Bill Paxton, sporting a rockin' pompadour is in the crowd, so they probably thought they were set. What I enjoy the most is that Dafoe waits till she's done with the song before snatching her. I mean, as far as violent, biker gang kidnappings goes, that's pretty thoughtful.
And it is a great beginning. The music sets the tone of the film very well. A smoky, neon lit Jim Steinman tune lets you know you're in for some over the top 80s madness. And right off, you see the mix of eras, with Diane Lane's very 80s outfit backed up by a 50s looking band. It lets you know you're in for something a little bent.
This was one of the first times I ever saw Willem Dafoe (along with Wild at Heart), and he straight up terrified me. And his reveal, coming out of the shadows, is fantastic.
Dan: I still don't know when the film takes place!
I'm no expert on automobiles, but I'm sure those cars are from the 40's and 50's.
And I like that the film introduced the "villain" before the hero. We know what he's up against before he does. What kind of man can take down an entire biker gang?
Michael Pare, that's who.
His introduction is better than Dafoe's. Sure, he doesn't come skulking out of the shadows, but he makes himself known. Watching him smack the hell out of the punks in the diner makes me smile every time. It would have been so easy to just punch the guy, but no, he bitch slaps him, many, many times.
Matt: I love the 'non-time' of the film. Much like Brazil, it's set somewhere in the 20th century, but no time in particular. There's even hints of some conflict or war, but which one? Who knows?
To me, the film has always felt like it has a cyberpunk vibe, even though there's no advanced technology or computers. But it captures the spirit, if that makes sense.
And yeah, Pere. The dude just Peres the hell out of ever scene. Smackin' around some two-bit hoods, stealing their car, and going for a joy ride. How awesome is that? "Yeah, I just made you look like a pack of feeps, but I'm gonna cap that off by taking your sweet ride." Nice.
*sorry for the overlap between the two clips.
Dan: Interesting point about Brazil, as I never would have made that connection. And since I'm not much of a cyber-punk fan, I'd be hard pressed to make sense of that, but I'll take your word for it.
But the real achievement the film had, with me anyway, was making the city a character. From the diner, to the streets, to the industrial wasteland where the gang hangs out. I loved that. I half expected Henry from Eraserhead to step out of the shadows. Instead we get a very strange cameo from Ed Bagely Jr.
And again, the hangout. Loved every second of the scenes where Pere and Amy Madigan infiltrate like agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. From the band, to the, well I guess she was a stripper, to the upstairs card game, it just oozed, well, ooze. As a kid, I wanted to be bad ass enough to hang out there. I once got my hands on a jar of Vaseline and slicked back my hair, attempting to do whatever the hell Dafoe was doing with his.
This conversation will be concluded tomorrow, as our Michael Pare ass kissing quota was filled for the day. I'll leave you with the thought of a 10 year old me slicking back and sculpting my hair with an entire jar of petroleum jelly.