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A sergeant must deal with his desires to save the lives of young soldiers being sent to Vietnam. Continuously denied the chance to teach the soldiers about his experiences, he settles for trying to help the son of an old army buddy.
Francis Ford Coppola
James Earl Jones
Bennie travels to Buenos Aires to find his long-missing older brother, a once-promising writer who is now a remnant of his former self. Bennie's discovery of his brother's near-finished play might hold the answer to understanding their shared past and renewing their bond.
Francis Ford Coppola
Rusty James is the leader of a small, dying gang in an industrial town. He lives in the shadow of the memory of his absent, older brother -- The Motorcycle Boy. His mother has left, his father drinks, school has no meaning for him and his relationships are shallow. He is drawn into one more gang fight and the events that follow begin to change his life. Written by
Bruce Janson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Matt Dillon had read the book a few years before doing the movie, and in an interview with S.E. Hinton, said that it was his favorite book. Hinton said that when someone told her that "Rumble Fish" was their favorite book, usually "they were in a reformatory". See more »
Camera shadow visible on Rusty-James' torso after The Motorcycle Boy has shown him the photograph of himself in the magazine. See more »
Biff Wilcox is looking for you, Rusty James. He's gonna kill you, Rusty James.
See more »
Television rarely provides film certificates as a guide, and so I must confess to having first seen Rumble Fish when I was considerably younger than its "18" certificate. Crowbarred into the middle of a season of 50s biker movies, I mistakenly BELIEVED this black and white film to have been made during that era. Innate stupidity and unfamiliarity with cinema at that time meant I failed to recognise such contemporary actors as Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke and Nicolas Cage. To this end I came to the conclusion that with its earthy language, slight sexual content and violence, Rumble Fish was a movie way ahead of its time. Its parting rhetoric, really just a flimsy song by an ex-member of The Police, seemed to wrap the whole thing up and imbue it with meaning.
Around eight years later it received a video release in England, and I bought it the first day it came out. Maybe it was the feeling of idiocy on my part that made me hate it second time around. The film showed the divide between BEING a 50s gang movie and pretentiously PRETENDING to be a 50s gang movie. Worst still, the philosophical musings over time and the nature of insanity made it wholly indulgent, while the authentically retro dialogue sounded self-conscious coming from 1983. This might be directed by the same man that gave us The Godfather, but that is also the same man who gave us Bram Stoker's Dracula.
So to consolidate these two vastly differing viewpoints I decided to give Rumble Fish a third viewing. While it still contains more naivety than meaningful insight, it is outstanding in the field of cinematography. Direction, while showy, is virtually flawless, each scene taken from the point of view of distant shadows, causing an air of unsettled menace throughout. Writing is generally high, though a little clumsy, while acting (backed up by Dennis Hopper) cannot be faulted. Rourke is every inch the cool, ubiquitously-admired Motorcyle Boy, while the rolling clouds and clockface imagery leave a perfect spin on the film.
Of course, on the latest viewing, further elements come to light; it is never stated, nor even particularly implied, that the film is set in the fifties. Its noir leanings are an echo of The Motorcycle Boy's colour blindness, as is (presumably) the awful sound quality supposed to represent his slight deafness. Or maybe I just bought a bad tape. These may seem like fairly self-explanatory observations, and go without saying, but locked within the mindset of a pubescent youth were all these misconceptions. All of which goes to prove how a film can be many things and of many merits, depending on the circumstances of viewing, and who is watching it... even if that "who" turns out to be the same person.
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