Streets Of Fire (1984) Review

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Streets Of Fire (1984)

Directed by Walter Hill

Starring: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Willem Dafoe, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Bill Paxton, Elizabeth Daily

Music by Ry Cooder

Running time: 93 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB):
A mercenary goes after his ex-girlfriend, a singer who has been kidnapped by a gang.

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My Opinion:

Streets Of Fire is one of those movies I always regretted not seeing back in the Eighties. Then, after watching The Warriors a couple of years ago and absolutely loving it, I knew I should finally watch Streets Of Fire as it was also made by Walter Hill. But I still didn’t get around to it! I finally decided to check it out after watching Diane Lane in the great little obscure 1982 film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. Unfortunately, this is definitely not as good as The Warriors and even The Fabulous Stains is better in a lot of ways. This has a cheesy sort of appeal, though, and I’m sure it has its fans amongst those who saw it at the time & grew up with it. But it probably won’t connect with anyone watching it for the first time nowadays whereas I think The Warriors continues to gain new fans.

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As the poster says, this was apparently marketed as “a rock & roll fable”. There are a lot of songs in this and I think whether or not you buy into the movie will depend on if you like the music. A lot of the music was by Ry Cooder and I can’t say I remember any of it after a first watch even though it wasn’t long ago that I saw it (except for I Can Dream About You by Dan Hartman since I already knew that song. That was stuck in my head for days afterwards!). The songs by Diane Lane’s band in the film were a bit bland & reminded me of something Meat Loaf might sing. The movie is a very odd mix of the Fifties rock ‘n’ roll thing and the early Eighties style-wise & musically. I’ve never really been a fan of the Fifties rock ‘n’ roll thing so that may be why the movie didn’t work so well for me. Also, I just couldn’t really take the two main male characters seriously when they wore their pants so high. Seriously! This is NOT a good look. Especially whatever the hell Willem Dafoe is wearing here:

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Hilarious! The hot one in the stupid suspenders there is Michael Paré, the film’s hero. I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything else and as I watched this I thought “he’s cute but he’s a pretty damn bad actor – no wonder he wasn’t in anything else”. Then I looked him up on IMDB and he’s been in 126 things & he’s still going strong! What?! What are all these movies Paré has been in? This dude’s career has completely passed me by – I knew of him & that he was in Streets Of Fire but that’s all. Huh. Hopefully his acting improved? I suppose he worked as the sexy but dumb hero that women want to sleep with…

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Diane Lane’s character was a pretty big disappointment, especially just after seeing her in The Fabulous Stains where her character had far more personality & depth. She’s nothing but a pretty “damsel in distress” in Streets Of Fire. Luckily we got two better female characters with Amy Madigan’s soldier who helps Paré to rescue Lane & Deborah Van Valkenburgh, who was also great in The Warriors, as Paré’s sister. I’ve already mentioned Dafoe & his silly pants – it was funny seeing him in this as I didn’t know he was in it (he plays the main bad guy & kidnapper). Rick Moranis was also a surprise as was Elizabeth Daily once again starring with Lane in a slightly bigger role than she had in The Fabulous Stains. Plus we also get Bill Paxton once again looking like a total douche in an Eighties film! I miss good old douchey Bill Paxton from the Eighties. He was more fun than leading role Bill Paxton of later times. He’ll never top his Weird Science role! Remember when he was in that Fish Heads video? Am I going off on one of my tangents again?

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Summary:

I clearly don’t have much to say about this film so I’ll just wrap this up. These are the kind of movies I find most difficult to write about: the “meh” ones. I can get a little passionate when I really love (or hate) a movie but have very little to say when I don’t really care. I know I’d like this a lot more if I’d seen it at the time but, despite it trying for a bit of a Fifties feel, it’s a little too stuck in 1984. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll always like a mediocre film from 1984 a million times more than a mediocre film from today and I did enjoy this a lot more than I’ve made it sound. I just feel bad because I really wanted to like it more than I did. I thought I might be discovering yet another little gem from my favorite era just like The Warriors & The Fabulous Stains. Oh well – two out of three ain’t bad. Hey, that’s a Meat Loaf song!

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982) Review

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Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)

Directed by Lou Adler

Starring: Diane Lane, Laura Dern, Marin Kanter, Ray Winstone, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Paul Simonon, Fee Waybill, Barry Ford, Black Randy, Elizabeth Daily, Brent Spiner

Running time: 87 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The media and disaffected teens mistake the acerbic rants of an obnoxious teenage punk rocker as a rallying cry for the women of America, launching her and her talentless group to national stardom.

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My Opinion:

I mentioned this movie in my review for Miracle Mile because, like Miracle Mile, this is a movie from my beloved Eighties that I had somehow never even heard of! I love discovering movies such as these as I’ll always be especially fond of movies from this era. So, like I warned in my Miracle Mile review, I’m going to be positive about this movie but it is NOT one that most people who are reading this would like as much as I did.

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Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains stars a very young Diane Lane…. as a PUNK! I wish I had seen this as a teen because I’d have loved it and I’d have wanted to be just like Diane Lane’s character (I’d still like that but I’m pretty old so I think my “sexy punk rocker girl” days may be behind me). She starts off looking like a normal, pretty girl-next-door but then reveals this look while on tour with her “band” for the first time:

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How awesome is that look?! Although I’d be far too self-conscious to wear the see-through red top… But I love the hair & the red eye-makeup! It’s funny that her look didn’t inspire a bunch of copycats – I think that the movie was just too obscure. I’m not sure exactly why this movie didn’t make it big. Yes, it’s not the greatest movie out there & it’s very dated now but I’ve seen far worse movies from the Eighties. After watching this, I figured it was time for me to finally watch Lane in Streets Of Fire as I somehow missed out on that one. You know what? Even though that one is more well known and is from the same guy who made the excellent The Warriors, I’d have to say I definitely preferred Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains to Streets Of Fire (I’ll be posting a review of that one on Friday). This one feels more gritty and “real”. Part of that may be the fairly low budget look and part may be because this was made by someone known more in the music industry than the movie industry.

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This was directed by Lou Adler, who only directed one other film (Up In Smoke) but did produce a few movies as well (such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show). He’s mainly known for being a record producer & manager and I think this film works well as a look into the music industry and how quickly musicians can rise to fame and then just as quickly come crashing back down thanks to a fickle audience. Lane’s character is an angry teenager who becomes a hero of sorts when being interviewed about her town for a local TV station. This leads to her “band” being signed up for a tour with two other bands (despite the fact that no one has heard them play) and it’s discovered during their first concert that they have no talent. But it doesn’t matter as Lane’s punk look & attitude propel them to stardom & she becomes a kind of symbol for feminism while telling everyone that she “never puts out”. Pretty soon every girl wants to be just like her:

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As always, I love seeing familiar faces when I watch films from the Eighties. Laura Dern plays one of the members of The Stains while an extremely young Ray Winstone plays the leader of the more talented punk band on tour with The Stains (The Looters). Elizabeth Daily has a small role as a maid (Dottie from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – she has a bigger role with Lane in Streets Of Fire). I also loved the look of the aging metal band on the tour, Metal Corpses, who are well past their prime but don’t want to retire.

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Unlike in Streets Of Fire (it’s hard to not compare them since I just watched them both), Lane’s character has some depth here and we see that she’s just a young girl who has been left with no parents after her mother’s death & she’s angry at the world. It’s strange how some movies don’t make it big – I thought this was pretty good and, although it of course looks dated, I think the subject matter works just as well now. The issues raised still seem just as relevant (maybe even more so as “fame” is now more shallow and full of no-talent assholes than ever). I liked it and I’d watch it again. In fact, I don’t like that this isn’t available on DVD here as it won’t stay on Netflix forever – it’s one I’d like to keep.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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