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Streets of Fire: A Rock & Roll Fable
December 18, 2010 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Streets of Fire (part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) is a 1984 film directed by Walter Hill and co-written by Hill and Larry Gross. It was described in previews, trailers, and posters as "A Rock & Roll Fable." It is an unusual mix of musical, action, drama, and comedy with elements both of retro-1950s and 1980s. ... The film was promoted as a summer blockbuster but failed critically and commercially, grossing only USD $8 million in North America, well below its $14.5 million budget. Its dynamic musical score by the likes of Jim Steinman, Ry Cooder, and others, as well as the hit Dan Hartman song "I Can Dream About You", however, has helped it attain something of a cult following among fans.
posted by Joe Beese (59 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
It is also my fathers 2nd favorite movie, next to Ghostbusters.
posted by Faux Real at 9:30 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love this movie so hard.

Fun fact: the video game Final Fight is (very) loosely based on Streets of Fire!
posted by asperity at 9:37 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This movie has some of the best incidental music in a movie I've ever heard. But that's because Ry Cooder's guitar work is absolutely amazing. It even made "Last Man Standing" (a fairly ridiculous remake of Yojimbo) work.

It's one of those movies, like Buckaroo Banzai or Big Trouble in Little China, or Army of Darkness, that I love because it so embraces its weirdness and doesn't try to sell itself as anything other than what it is. You can see the plot from about the fifth minute, all the way to the end, and you know how it's going to turn out, but it's just a fun ride you don't really care.

The Jim Steinman piece, "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young" is, well, Steinman. But if you do some looking about, the band he put together for it, Fire Inc., has some impressive names in it: some of the E Street Band (Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan), a bunch from the Meat Loaf (and therefore Steinman-influenced) backing band the Neverland Express. Say what you will about Steinman's love of the sturm und drang, the man can come up with some seriously catchy hooks.
posted by mephron at 9:52 PM on December 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Mostly, I enjoyed that movie but there was one part that just seemed wrong.
posted by Iron Rat at 10:28 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Streets of Fire is fucking awesome. Rick Moranis in a plaid jacket for the win.

However, do please note:

Filmmaker Albert Pyun is currently working on an unofficial sequel to Streets of Fire, entitled, Road to Hell, with Michael Pare and Deborah Van Valkenburgh reprising their roles from the original film.[11] In addition, Clare Kramer has also been cast. Pyun has said that it is about Pare playing "An ex-soldier and now hunted killer ... stranded when his jeep breaks down in the desert, on the road to Edge City. Edge City is where people who have crossed the line of darkness go to have their souls reborn. Cody is hunting for his lost love, the rock star Ellen Aim, believing she is the key to his redemption."[11] The filmmaker has also described this new film as more of a horror film in nature. In addition, two Jim Steinman songs were licensed for the film. A limited special-edition DVD will soon become available on the film's official website.[11]

A friend of mine from school was telling me about this. I am...skeptical...but...hopeful?

IMDB link here. Supposedly the movie is very green screen heavy. Hmm.

Albert Pyun, meanwhile, is a notorious exploitation director, which actually sort of makes him an ideal choice for the Streets of Fire sequel.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:49 PM on December 18, 2010


Also, if you don't listen to The Protomen, then your life is a sad, barren wasteland filled with horizonless oceans of sand and the skeletons of owls.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:59 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I Can Dream about You" (which was indeed ubiquitous) holds up pretty well as an 80s pop song, I'd say.
posted by blucevalo at 11:05 PM on December 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I like to imagine this as a sort of weird sequel to The Fabulous Stains, with Diane Lane playing the same role in both films.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:12 PM on December 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I loved that film, but always felt the sledge hammer fight at the end just didn't work.

I always thought the reason it wasn't a bigger commercial success is that they messed up the final scene.
posted by compound eye at 11:25 PM on December 18, 2010


This movie is the best movie. Ellen Aim is the best rock diva. Jim Steinman is the best crazy overrought rock anthem author. I am fourteen years old again.
posted by Guy Smiley at 11:35 PM on December 18, 2010


This movie... had a really interesting woodcut-style poster.
posted by ovvl at 11:56 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


And let's not forget that The Blasters were the bar band where the bad guys hung out. How fitting is that?
posted by Relay at 12:00 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The movie starts with the coolest title-card disclaimer ever:
"Another time, another place."

What else do you need?
Seriously, if you don't like this movie, you might be one of the people who might read one (any!) of my screenplays, look at me over the cover and say,
"Well. That really COULDN'T happen, y'know."

Wall-E. Toy Story. The Terminator. do we have to go on?
If you want more crap movies, just keep it up, keep rejecting movies that take you to another place and another time. THAT'S WHY I GO TO THE MOVIES.
posted by flowerofhighrank at 12:05 AM on December 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Road To Hell website
posted by hippybear at 12:10 AM on December 19, 2010


Damn. And not a streaming title.

Allow me to share the most awful awesome line from Big Trouble In Little China:

"It seems like an awful lot of people have been dropping like flies around here lately."
posted by sourwookie at 12:56 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the song link. The only part of the song I've carried with me from childhood is the line "moving sidewalks". Is it a song about major airline hubs?
posted by sourwookie at 12:58 AM on December 19, 2010


This and The Warriors made me a Walter Hill fan. He has this knack for creating these incredibly strange urban universes with their own weird cultures and groups and then letting you loose among them. You can't question it, though. Just gotta take it as it is.

And I love the sledgehammer fight. Much like the extended fight sequence between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live, the first time I saw it I knew I was watching THE GREATEST THING EVER.
posted by Spatch at 1:45 AM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Another time, another place."

A universe where punk never happened, big hair is still cool and old men ROCK!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:37 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I loved this movie. For some reason, the following anecdote pops up in my mind: the (alleged) reason why the negotiations for the rights of the "Streets of fire" song on the soundtrack failed was that (allegedly) Springsteen wanted to sing it himself on screen, and Walter Hill wouldn't let him play the Ellen Aim part in wig and dress. Note: it's a 25-year old memory of a Walter Hill interview, and he was certainly joking, but if he wasn't there's an alternate reality where the Boss is singing "Streets of fire" in drag.
posted by elgilito at 4:24 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: Laurie Sargent, lead singer of Boston's Face to Face was Ellen Aim's singing voice and the guys in the band were "The Attackers."

Not Fun Fact of Life for my Ex-Husband: As the keyboardist for Face to Face and not an original member of the band, he didn't get to be in the movie. He was also told to not clap and otherwise try to engage the audience on stage, but that's just kind of a awesome sidenote, I think.

"Less cowbell, you!"
posted by dzaz at 4:53 AM on December 19, 2010


Oh God... memories of drunken weekends in the eighties.

My best drinking buddy and I had this up there as just one of the best "get drunk, laugh at (and revel in) the sheer dumb glorious unashamed stupid of it all" films. Rick Moranis hamming it up. That bit where Michael Pare takes the punk's switchblade, smacks him, hands it back and says "try it again". And, oh God, the hammer duel with William Dafoe in biker fetishwear. Fantastic stuff. They don't make 'em like that any more. A pity.
posted by Decani at 5:09 AM on December 19, 2010


I love that movie. I always end up calling it "streets of violence", though. But, c'mon, it has a sledgehammer duel, a dykey Amy Madigan, and a fuckin awesome soundtrack. (dzaz: I did not know that!) And that bit with the butterfly knife - pure silly badassery.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:11 AM on December 19, 2010


Definitely so-bad-it's-good material. Dafoe chews the scenery when he's on.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:25 AM on December 19, 2010


My wife loves this movie, I don't really get it but I never really got the 80s in the first place.
posted by octothorpe at 6:51 AM on December 19, 2010


This summer, Georgia Shakespeare produced King Lear. As I've come to expect, the results were exceptional, particularly Tim McDonough's Lear. But here's the thing ... the final confrontation between Edmund and Edgar?

A Sledgehammer Duel.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:18 AM on December 19, 2010


Mostly, I enjoyed that movie but there was one part that just seemed wrong.

Anyone who objects to Willem Dafoe in leather (or even leather-ish) overalls lacks any trace of a soul!

Also, this would make a great double feature with Trouble in Mind by Alan Rudolph, another great lost film of the 80s (and one of Divine's few non-drag roles).
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:42 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love this movie. It's so...weird. Sort of like The Wild Ones if it was a surreal science fiction musical.
posted by biscotti at 7:57 AM on December 19, 2010


Because of my outspoken love for this movie, I am the subject of ridicule among many of my friends.

The stripper dancing to the Blasters at Torchy's is Marine Jahan, Jennifer Beals' body double in Flashdance.

A bar named Torchy's shows up in more than one Walter Hill movie.
posted by donpardo at 8:44 AM on December 19, 2010


Also, this would make a great double feature with Trouble in Mind by Alan Rudolph

Worth seeing for Keith Carradine's hair alone.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:18 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


A bar named Torchy's shows up in more than one Walter Hill movie.

Yep, it's the redneck bar in 48 Hours.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:21 AM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the production notes, Walter Hill summed up this movie as: "The Leader of the Pack steals the Queen of the Hop and Soldier Boy comes home to do something about it."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:37 AM on December 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's one of those movies, like Buckaroo Banzai or Big Trouble in Little China, or Army of Darkness, that I love because it so embraces its weirdness and doesn't try to sell itself as anything other than what it is.

But seriously ... comparing Streets Of Fire to the three films mentioned here (Buckaroo Banzai in particular) is like comparing Hermans Hermits to the Beatles, or Lenny Kravitz to Jimi Hendrix. Sorry for dumping in a thread which seems to have become a bit much of a love ghetto, but to quote a great, albeit fictional, man, "This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand."
posted by philip-random at 9:42 AM on December 19, 2010


For years, this movie's been my reference point while trying to describe how awesome The Blasters are.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:42 AM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Among its other riches, the editing of this movie was extraordinary enough in 1984 that it warranted notice in a significant article in Film Comment.

Michael Pare kicks open a door in the biker bar and sees the woman he has come to rescue tied to a bed. He flicks open a knife, lunges at the bed, and now the two of them are fleeing.

A quarter-century later, the coolness of this - it's rock-and-rollness - remains for me undiminished.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:45 AM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I have a funny connection to this film ... Michael Pare is my cousin-in-law. Funny to think that, while I was watching this guy in some great little movies, he was at summer barbecues playing softball with my future wife. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:52 AM on December 19, 2010


I dig it.
posted by jonmc at 10:02 AM on December 19, 2010


Hermans Hermits to the Beatles

Lets' see ... both from working class Northern England, both representative of the Beat or Mersey Beat sound, both had art school roots, both drew inspiration from Music Hall and R&B, topped the British charts, spearheaded the first British wave of pop, made a series of films with MGM. Hm. Obviously, Herman's Hermits weren't The Beatles, but there are comparisons that are valid.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:08 AM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course there are obvious comparisons. That's my point. As Lenny Kravitz and Jimi Hendrix were/are both men of African American descent who play loud rock guitar ... but bottom line -- one's genius, the other is ... less so.
posted by philip-random at 10:18 AM on December 19, 2010


How the hell could this movie have gotten any better?

That's right. Bill Paxton.
posted by mikelieman at 10:26 AM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean, seriously. This being favorably compared to This? Am I missing something?
posted by philip-random at 10:26 AM on December 19, 2010


This is one of those movies I can't help but watch when I find it on cable. It's fascinatingly bad.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:45 AM on December 19, 2010


How the hell could this movie have gotten any better?

That's right. Bill Paxton.

How about Bill Paxton getting dropped by Amy Madigan mikelieman? Or was that Pare that decked him?
posted by Relay at 11:15 AM on December 19, 2010


OMG!!
Kip Waldo!
posted by Floydd at 11:19 AM on December 19, 2010


The music's fun, I always found Amy madigan's character mysteriously sexy, and it was a fun way to kill an afternoon. What more do you want?
posted by jonmc at 11:29 AM on December 19, 2010


Also both "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young" and "Nowhere Fast" proudly take up space on my iPod. If you don't like them, at least a little bit, you have no soul.
posted by jonmc at 11:31 AM on December 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


I have no soul.
posted by philip-random at 12:13 PM on December 19, 2010


Well, if a horned man challenges you to a fiddle contest, you're going to have to bluff.
posted by jonmc at 12:19 PM on December 19, 2010


Even as someone who loved The Warriors, I was less than impressed by this at the time, but I can't dismiss it out of hand because I watched Street Fighter last night, and that film was pretty cracktastic. Yeah, van Damme's line delivery was painfully stilted beyond William Shatner's worst fever dreams, and the plot was way too complicated for a video game movie, but it was still pretty aware that it was a video game movie and had lots of fun with that. Even though Raúl Juliá's health wasn't good, he sank his teeth into the scenery like a real trooper. If I could have fun with that movie, I'd be willing to give this one another try to see how it holds up.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:24 PM on December 19, 2010


All I'm saying is that if expressing my opinion and love of movies from the 80s that create their own little world that is obviously the result of some divergence in the past; where Chinese spirits did not retreat to the Celestial Kingdom and moved to San Francisco; where science goes boing, where terrible evil can be fought by a stupid guy driven mad by it using what wits he has, guts, gumption and a chainsaw; where mercs and mechanics with hearts of gold put their asses on the line for a woman and the only reason the money matters is that the bills have to get paid...

...if that's wrong...

I don't ever want to be right.

And if you think it's wrong? I send you to SKI THE K-12! And give the meanest paperboy in the world his two dollars.
posted by mephron at 2:42 PM on December 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Worth seeing for Keith Carradine's hair alone.

It is worth watching Trouble in Mind twice for that hair!

Also for the "not quite our world-ness" of it. I saw it with a friend when it was first released. Halfway through he leaned over, deeply agitated, and hissed "where is this taking place!?!"

He was never quite the same afterward.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:23 PM on December 19, 2010


90% of that movie does not hold up - but "I Can Dream About You" and that sledgehammer fight will endure.
posted by Ber at 5:00 PM on December 19, 2010


Young Willem Dafoe would have made a good Joker. Anyone notice Lee Ving was in this film as one of his henchmen/gang members?
posted by cazoo at 6:17 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I STILL have the the soundtrack on the original cassette.

Cool Papa Bell, I sure hope you don't bring up "Hope Floats" to your cousin-in-law...
posted by foxhat10 at 6:28 PM on December 19, 2010


One of my oldest traditions with my best friend is that we watch Streets of Fire, Purple Rain and Army of Darkness when we get together. Every two years or so, I have a movie marathon full of 80s awesomeness and homo-erotic subtext.
posted by alvarete at 2:46 AM on December 20, 2010


Anyone notice Lee Ving was in this film as one of his henchmen/gang members?

Hell yeah. In fact, Ving had quite the film career going in the eighties; he was in Flashdance, of all things (as a strip club owner, but still).
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2010


In fact, Ving had quite the film career going in the eighties

He also played Mr Boddy in Clue.
posted by hippybear at 9:55 AM on December 20, 2010


vibrotronica : It's fascinatingly bad.

I can't decide if I vehemently disagree or sort of know exactly where you're coming from. The movie hold up astonishingly well for being as old as it is, though there are a few really glaring moments of The 80's here and there, for the most part it still works.

The old cars, clothes, hair, props, and a lot of the music pull it out of time; As a cinematic enterprise, it wasn't ahead of it's time, it just exists in a timeline that the world sort of forgot.

I watched it about three months ago and was left agape at how, really not bad it still was.
posted by quin at 12:08 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I missed this thread. Yeah.
posted by ellenaim at 8:49 AM on January 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't believe I missed this thread. Yeah.
posted by ellenaim


I think this actually transcends eponysterical into a whole new universe and I am glad to be in it.
posted by mephron at 4:11 AM on January 10, 2011


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