Early roles for future stars
15 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The 1970's saw a re-emergence of the 1950's and it started with "American Graffiti" and that spawned more films that I can remember but this effort is both a hit and miss but it is interesting considering the cast. Story is set in Brooklyn in the 1950's and we see four members of a local gang named the Lords but one of them gets his girlfriend pregnant and is pressured into marrying her. Stanley Rosiello (Sylvester Stallone) is the so-called leader of the Lords and his girlfriend Frannie (Maria Smith) tells him that she is late and the rubber band thing didn't work. Meanwhile, Chico Tyrell (Perry King) falls for Jane Bradshaw (Susan Blakely) who is the new girl in the neighborhood but he puts a lot of pressure on her to go all the way. The other two members are Butchey Weinstein (Henry Winkler) who may or may not be thinking about going to college and Wimpy Murgalo (Paul Mace) who is the shortest but doesn't lack in being feisty.


Chico goes out with Jane but she finally has had enough of his pressure and starts going out with another boy. Stanley manages to get Frannie a nice ring but later learns that she is not pregnant but he decides to go through with the wedding anyway. This doesn't stop the four of them from getting involved in a rumble with the football team but it ends with Butchey getting hit by a car.

This film is directed by Martin Davidson and Stephen Verona who spent roughly $100,000 to make this with a 16mm camera and even though it's edited horribly and really has no rhythm in it's storytelling the honesty of the performances shines through enough times to make this a fairly effective film. Of course none of these actors look like they belong in high school and they all look like they are approaching 30 if they haven't hit that mark yet. While the cinematography is bumpy and badly lit it still gives the film some sort of realistic quality as if your peering back into time and I've always liked low budget quality camera work if it's done with the right story and I think a story that takes place in 1950's Brooklyn is perfect. I first viewed this film when it was released in the 1970's and at that time I thought Stallone's character was the rough one but after watching it again it dawns on me that King's Chico is the one that is having the most difficulty maturing. Stallone doesn't have to get married but he decides to do the right thing while Chico blows his opportunity with Jane that ends up with her yelling "Why don't you grow up"? That moment kind of sums up the film and what it was trying to accomplish in it's clumsy way. Blakely is pretty good in her role and the look of disappointment in her eyes at King was something I never forgot from this film. Stallone didn't write the script but he did add lines in certain scenes and his character is clearly patterned after Marlon Brando first with his name Stanley and secondly with the pigeons. Winkler comes off as kind of a laid back guy who gets along with everyone but his role is not written well and if it was it could have helped. Film doesn't have any real pace and it does come across as a bunch of scenes badly edited together but the sincerity of the story and the honesty of the performances make this a film that's worth a look.
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