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Rumble Fish (1983)

 -  Drama  -  21 October 1983 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 21,558 users   Metascore: 63/100
Reviews: 116 user | 56 critic | 8 from Metacritic.com

Rusty James, an absent-minded street thug struggles to live up to his legendary older brother's reputation, and longs for the days when gang warfare was going on.

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(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Rumble Fish (1983)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
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...
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Cassandra
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...
...
B.J. Jackson (as Christopher Penn)
...
Midget (as Larry Fishburne)
...
Michael Higgins ...
Mr. Harrigan
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Biff Wilcox
...
Herb Rice ...
Black Pool Player
Maybelle Wallace ...
Late Pass Clerk
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Storyline

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 <bruce@cs.su.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Rusty James can't live up to his brother's reputation. His brother can't live it down. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 October 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La ley de la calle  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$2,500,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A clock can be seen in every scene of this movie. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Rusty James asks Benny how do you know if someone is crazy (set in Benny's Billiards), on the table you can see a modern-style Dr. Pepper can with a "stay-tab" opener. Since the book and film are set in the '50s or '60s, that type of can would not exist yet. In this era, sodas had the pull-tab style of opener. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Midget: Biff Wilcox is looking for you, Rusty James. He's gonna kill you, Rusty James.
See more »

Connections

References Pole Position (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Box Me In
Written by Stewart Copeland and Stan Ridgway
Performed by Stewart Copeland and Stan Ridgway
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Not one of Coppola's very best, yet delivers a plethora of sharp visuals and terrific cinematography/performances
28 January 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish in a film class, and it was interesting to see how certain scenes were made (seeing transitions and shots in slow motion, stopping to point out things), among the plot. From S.E. Hinton's novel, he assembles a breakthrough cast (a lot of teens) who show they can get into the characters quite effectively. And for those who love the technical side of a film- how it was made and what went into the shots and the meanings of shots- will have a feast that will turn them off or have them asking for more (or the rumored 8-hour cut, perhaps).

The story deals with characters who are struggling through life, stuck in a town where the environment seems nostalgically black and white, and only glimpses of color arise. We are given the story of two brothers- the one who takes a chunk of the story is Rusty James (an excellent, young Matt Dillon), a tough, sometimes ignorant teen who has all the strengths and weaknesses of the high-school 'rebel', taking after his AWOL older brother. The other is Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke, perfect in his quiet and touching presence), who left his town and his reputation behind to go to California. He returns to find Rusty James getting in over his head, and all his best efforts to keep him cool are mired by old wounds (some wounds involving their parents, others by the effect the atmosphere left on him). There's also keen supporting work by fresh faces- Nicolas Cage, Chris Penn, and Laurence Fishburne as friends and sometimes followers of Rusty; Diane Lane (wonderful even in her youth) as a sweet/sour love interest; and Dennis Hopper as the father of Rusty James, who appears just enough to get the psychological points across to the viewer.

Coppola tends to use his symbols rather thickly, and it's arguable if he may show things too much, or maybe if he shows them just enough (i.e. skies darkening, clocks). Yet it doesn't stop him from creating indelible images- practically all the shots in the film could be put on a wall and look as great as any other by a professional photographer. With Stephen Barum and Dean Tavoularis (photographer and designer, respectively) scene after scene experiments with techniques (the fish is just a taste of this), and it's rather authentic in its respectfulness of the material. For example, in the gang fight, the style with which Coppola introduces characters controls the mis en scene, the editing and the use of shadows, all of this in this one sequence displays the tremendous directorial vision Coppola can have on a film.

It's not really a joyful film, and the downward spiral motif of the story may make some depressed with what they're seeing. But, if you want to see a very well-crafted film, the kind that gets better on repeat viewings (as with the Godfather films and Apocalypse Now), check it out- at least a viewer will get the sense of concise, complex film acting by young stars.


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