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Streets of Fire (1984) Poster

Trivia

This was intended to be the first in a trilogy of action films starring Michael Paré as Tom Cody. However, its failure at the box office had put an end to the project.
Because many of the actors were young enough to be subjected to child labor laws, most of the night scenes were shot during the day, with the set under a tarp.
The title came from a song written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen on his album "Darkness On The Edge Of Town". Original plans were for the song to be featured on the film soudtrack but when Springsteen found out the song would be rerecorded by other vocalists, he withdrew permission for the song to be used.
When Amy Madigan read for the film, she read for the part of the lead character's sister. Madigan told Walter Hill that the best part in the script was the lead character's sidekick. That part called for a man and the character's name was Mendez. The part was rewritten for Madigan and was renamed McCoy.
The Attackers were the real-life band-mates of Laurie Sargent, who provided the singing voice for Ellen Aim. Their band was called Face to Face and they played mainly "new wave" music around the Boston area. The group split up in 1988.
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Michael Paré had problems with Rick Moranis:

"Rick Moranis drove me out of my mind. There's this whole wave of insult comedy. In the real world, if someone insults you a couple of times, you can smack them. Or punch them. You can't do that on a movie set. And these comedians walk around, and they can say whatever they want. I'm just not that handy with that. Comedians are a special breed. They can antagonize you and say whatever they... want, and you can't do anything to stop them... He's this weird looking little guy who couldn't get laid in a whore house with a fistful of fifties. He would imitate me. The first thing he says to me is, "Do you just act cool, or are you really cool?" That was the first sentence out of his mouth to me in Joel Silver's office. And I was like, "Oh... this is not going to go well." But he was one of Joel's dear friends, and he ended up making a bunch of movies for Disney. I just wasn't that sharp. I wasn't ready for that kind of crap".
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An early incarnation of this screenplay was offered to Paul McCartney, whom the producers had learned was interested in playing a role in a dramatic motion picture. When McCartney passed on the film (he decided instead to star in his own screenplay, Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984)) the role of the kidnapped rock star was rewritten and Diane Lane was cast in the part, as Ellen Aim.
James Horner wrote three different original scores for this film before he ultimately left the project in favor of director Walter Hill's preferred composer Ry Cooder.
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Westerns, Graphic novels, The Searchers (1956), Mad Max (1979), Escape from New York (1981), The Warriors (1979), Grand Theft Auto (1977) and Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" are considered influences behind the film.
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According to Walter Hill, the film's origins came out of a desire to make what he thought was a perfect film when he was a teenager and put in all of the things that he thought were "great then and which I still have great affection for: custom cars, kissing in the rain, neon, trains in the night, high-speed pursuit, rumbles, rock stars, motorcycles, jokes in tough situations, leather jackets and questions of honour".
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Walter Hill was reluctant to cast Diane Lane because he felt that she was too young for the role. Hill met Lane in New York City and she auditioned for him in black leather pants, a black mesh top and high-heeled boots. He was surprised with her "total commitment to selling herself as a rock 'n' roll star".
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Walter Hill was so impressed with Diane Lane's work on the film that he wrote additional scenes for her during the shoot.
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The club name "Torchy's" is also seen in 48 Hrs. (1982), When A Stranger Calls (1979) and The Driver (1978).
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The Torchy's bar dancer was Jennifer Beals' dance double in Flashdance (1983). Her name is Marine Jahan.
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The character of Ellen Aim was written as a 28-year-old woman and Diane Lane read for the part when she was 18.
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Due to the choreography and setups in between takes of every scene, the climactic 4-minute showdown between Cody and Raven took a considerable time to shoot. Michael Paré estimated it as four weeks:

"Willem and I shot that for two weeks, and then Walter shot it for another two week with the stunt guys. That whole scene was a Walter thing. He had to do something like that, especially after what he had done in Hard Times (1975)".
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The tag line for the film was "Tonight is what it means to be young." When producer Joel Silver saw the poor box office numbers from the opening weekend, he quipped "Tonight is what it means to be dead."
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Kathy Griffin is seen as an extra as a concert audience member.
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The film was originally rated R, but was edited to get Universal's desired PG rating.
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Production designer John Vallone and his team constructed an elevated train line on the backlot of Universal Studios that perfectly matched the ones in Chicago.
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Rick Moranis was unhappy making the film, mainly because he wasn't allowed to improvise.
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The film was a strong influence on both the music and setting of the anime series "Bubblegum Crisis." The choreography of Priss & The Replicants' song at the beginning of the first episode was modeled after the opening musical number of the film. In addition, the song "Akuma To Tenshi No KISU" from BGC's fourth episode has an introduction nearly identical to the introduction of the film's opening number "Nowhere Fast."
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Walter Hill heard about Michael Paré from the same agent who recommended Eddie Murphy to him for 48 Hrs. (1982).
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The production employed 500 extras to play the citizens of the Richmond District.
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Diane Lane described her character as "the first glamorous role I've had".
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While shooting in Chicago, the production was plagued by inclement weather that included rain, hail, snow, and a combination of all three.
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All ten days of filming in Chicago were exteriors at night on locations that included platforms of elevated subway lines and the depths of Lower Wacker Drive. For Walter Hill, the subways and their look was crucial to the world of the film and represented one of three modes of transportation-the other two being cars and motorcycles.
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The film crew tarped-in the New Street and Brownstone street sets to double for the Richmond District setting, completely covering them so that night scenes could be filmed during the day. This tarp measured 1,240 feet long by 220 feet wide over both sets and cost $1.2 million to construct. However, this presented unusual problems. The sound of the tarp flapping in the wind interfered with the actors' dialogue. Birds who had nested in the tarp provided their own noisy interruptions
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The factory scenes that take place in the Battery were filmed at a rotting soap factory in Wilmington, California, for ten nights.
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The car that Cody drives in the movie is a 1951 Mercury that was chopped, channelled, nosed, and decked. In addition, 12 1950 and 1951 model Studebakers were used as police cars.
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More than 50 motorcycles and their drivers were featured as the Bombers and were chosen from 200 members of real L.A.-based clubs like The Crusaders and The Heathens.
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Walter Hill later said he felt "humbled" by the shoot:

"I think I thought I could handle things. Didn't know how to shoot music. Music had been important in my films, it was usually post production. This was tough stuff to shoot. I already had a great respect for people like Minnelli. I just couldn't seem to work it out without just putting up multiple cameras and shooting an awful lot of film... I later realized or talked to people about this and MGM in the old days everybody was on contract and they would rehearse for weeks. We don't get that. We would stage it and shoot it. We got the songs a lot of times just a few days before we shoot. We only get the final song. The structural advantage of the old studio system we didn't have. It made a very inefficient shoot. I don't think there was any other way to do it given the circumstances".
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According to Michael Paré, the original draft of the script had Tom Cody kill Raven with a knife. However this was changed to a fair fight in order to get a PG rating.
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Elizabeth Daily said that it was "a very frustrating thing for me" to not sing in the film "Because Diane Lane was singing, and I remember thinking, "Ah!" It was so frustrating for me. It was painful. Because I wanted to be on that stage singing with those guys... But back then I always played those quirky characters. I didn't get those fancy leads. I got those best friend of the leads, quirky, funny characters. Hookers with a heart of gold. Weirdos. I liked my roles, I just wanted to be singing, too."
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Jim Steinman later recalled as thinking the script was "terrible" but he thought the film was going to be a big hit, in part because of the enthusiasm of Joel Silver:

"[He said] this movie is about visuals. It's about excitement, it's about thrills. Don't worry about the script... I remember mentioning it to six or seven people that the script was trashy and I always got the same answer... The script doesn't matter. This movie is about visuals... Then we go to the first edit, the first cut of the movie in the screening room and it's [Jimmy] Iovine and me and Joel Silver... And about 20 minutes into the movie Jimmy turns to me and he goes... this movie is really shitty isn't it? It's really bad. I said, yeah, it's a really bad script. Why didn't anyone notice that the script was bad? It stinks. I can't even watch it... Joel's on the other side going, what am I gonna do next? There's gotta be a next project, and they're sitting there and there's so many lessons I learned during that movie. It went $14 million over budget, I think and I kept saying to Joel, how are they allowing this? 'Cause they kept screaming at us, it's over the budget. I said, how, and they, you've gotta understand, they built all, Walter Hill didn't want to go to Chicago. The story took place in Chicago, so they built Chicago in LA".
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According to Jim Steinman, the filmmakers were convinced they would have the Bruce Springsteen song Streets of Fire and filmed an ending using it. However, when they realised they would not get it in time they asked Steinman for a song which he wrote in two days.

"So I wrote this song that I loved and I sent it to them and he and Joel, I remember, left me a great message saying, I hate you, you bastard, I love this song. We're gonna have to do it. We're gonna have to re-build the Wiltern Theater, which they had taken down, it was a million dollars to re-do the ending... and I felt all his hostility for Universal. A guy named Sean Daniels, who was head of production, one day said to me, well there is hostility because we understand you waited about eight months to come up with that final song and you never did it. I said, where'd you hear that? I did it in two days. He said, Jimmy Iovine. So I went to Jimmy Iovine and I said all that to his, yeah it's true, I know. I blamed you but you can't be upset with me. I'm not like a writer. I've gotta make my way with these people. I had to have a scapegoat".
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The film was the inspiration for Final Fight (1989).
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The opening title cards read, "Another Time... Another Place".
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During the last dialogue between Amy Madigan and Michael Paré, while referring to a a stolen car, she uses the expression "Finders keepers": this may be a reference to CHiPs: Finders Keepers (1981) where she had a part at the beginning of her career.
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The concept came together during the making of 48 Hrs. (1982) and reunited director Walter Hill with producers Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver, and screenwriter Larry Gross, all of whom worked together on that production.
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Amy Madigan originally read for Reva, Cody's sister, and told Walter Hill and Joel Silver that she wanted to play the role of McCoy which, she remembers, "was written to be played by an overweight male who was a good soldier and really needed a job. It could still be tough and strong and have a woman do it without rewriting the part." Hill liked the idea and cast her.
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Cinematographer Andrew Laszlo shot the film with very low light, giving the images a stark, "low-tech" quality.
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According to Andrew Laszlo, the film's style was dictated by the story. The Richmond's look was very soft and the colors did not call attention to themselves. The light in The Battery was contrasting and harsh, with vivid colours. Argyle prints and plaids are used in the Parkside District, and neon lights colour the Strip.
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A massive tent was used to cover the backlot and shoot day for night. It cost $1.2 million.
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Cast members Lee Ving and Ed Begley, Jr. also appeared in Get Crazy (1983), another sort of "Rock & Roll fable", the previous year.
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The name of Rick Moranis' character, Billy Fish, is a reference to the translator/sidekick character Billy Fish in The Man Who Would Be King (1975).
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