Friday, November 17, 2006

NO SLEEP TIL BROOKLYN

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. And last night it happened: the first Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day conflict. And the fight had nothing to do with the redundancy or awkwardness of the FSMOMYOTD name. No, it was deeper than that, closer to the heart of what it means to be a silly movie of the day, that day being Friday.

Now, you may be wondering. Conflict? Is Mike fighting with the voices in his head again? Didn't he say he woke up hungover yesterday? Did he go on back-to-back benders? Is there a ghost-writer, a second idiot behind the goofiness, silliness & more-than-occasional crankiness? No, none of the above. And in fact, The Nabe is a solo effort . . . nearly all of the time.

But the FSMOMYOTD involves . . . The Committee.

Yes, that's right. Behind the lightest, most frivolous & harmless of my weekly posts hides a secretive, controlling, all-but fascist cabal, seeking nothing short of untrammeled power & world domination. Ok, maybe not world domination, but an undeserved sense of it's own influence. These old men, these . . . Elders meet every Thursday at at 6:00 pm (before their early bedtime, after the Blue Light at the local diner) to decide the fate of the world. Or, if they're feeling a little less ambituous, the FSMOMYOTD.

Last night's meeting ended at 4:42 am this morning. Lots of cries of "oh, my aching back" and "Seymour? Are you awake?" as the evening progressed. And, contentious as it was, not a few "Are you crazies?" as well.

And the grist, the gravamen, the cause de guerre of this throw-down? Why the very definition of the word at the heart of the project: Silly. Silly in the way it's been used for the past couple months, as in "cheesy," "unintentionally laughable," "childlike," or just plain "bad"? The group that by 2:30 am came to be known as "The Tories" took this angle. Hidebound to tradition and protocol, they couldn't be moved. Stubbornly adhering to the definition they've used since boyhood, these gents argued that the world as we knew it was at stake.

They lost. "The Vanguard," the other fellows, wedded to the very notion that things change, that in a decade that saw the Red Sox win the World Series, the Democrats re-take Congress, and The Terminator win the governorship of California, decided that the notion of silly could swing away from its unchanged, two month course. Yes, by a vote of 7-6, the new wave broke through. It's a new day, folks. A new Friday. And, for one week at least, a new kind of Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day:

The Warriors

Now, assuming you understood a word of what I've been babbling about (which assumes, dangerously methinks, that any of you even bothered reading a word above the picture), you have to be asking, Ok Mike, so these imaginary old men in your head changed a definition that never seemed too defined anyway. But what makes The Warriors "silly" by any definition? It's a great cult movie, with great action, a wild plot, and some fun characters.

This is true. But I'll add a couple more facts: A gang convention with hundreds and hundreds of bangers, and not one cop notices. A small group of white, pretty boys beat the shit out of every violent thug they come across. Even though all the action plays out around the NYC subway, the trains seem to run in a manner so haphazard, I can't believe writer-director Walter Hill bothered to look at a map. And most importantly . . . The Baseball Furies. The scariest gang the Warriors meet are skinny white boys, dressed in Lee Mazzilli/Bucky Dent-style, late 70's skin-tight pinstripes. With painted faces.

This, my friends, is a silly movie of the most profound sort. Good? Yes. Fun as all hell? Absolutely. A cult classic of the very highest order? I think you have to give it to them. Silly? With. Out. Question.

I know that every week I declare something along the lines of "Yeah, this movie was silly, but I loved it when I first saw it." That's why I choose them . . . errr, I mean, that's why The Committee votes for them. But in this case, I'm saying without so much as a whiff of equivocation, I LOVED this movie when it came out. I cannot express that adequately enough.

1979. 11 years-old. Growing up in the outer NYC suburbs. Into town from time-to-time for grandparent visits, Met games & the airports (Queens), for Ranger games, the circus, dragged kicking and screaming through department stores (Manhattan), for great-grandmother visits & the drive back home (The Bronx). NY was at its late-70's craptacular best, with garbage, & burned-out buildings, & whores on 8th Avenue and drug dealers in Bryant Park, and dinged & dented police cruisers . . . and graffiti-covered subway cars, visible on any-and-all of the elevated subway tracks that seemed in my pre-teen eyes to cover every square foot of the outer boroughs.

And then I saw a movie that took place on that subway. With gangs, and gang fights, and dumb cops doing dumb things as they threatened the gangs. I was transfixed. And thus began my life-long fascination with the NYC subway, one that lasts to this day. Twice in my adult life, I spent the entirety of days off riding the trains. I've ridden every mile of the system. Every line, every station. I own a book, written by none-other than self-appointed hockey maven, Stan Fischler, called Uptown, Downtown, about the history of the subway system. When'd I get it? 1979.

I had a subway map that year. Even though, as a suburban kid, I never rode it! For a year or so, I wanted us to move out of the 'burbs, into the Bronx or Brooklyn, so I could ride the subway and be in a gang like the Warriors. Now maybe you can see where this "silly" thing springs from.

Anyway . . . I assume all of you reading this have seen The Warriors, hopefully more than once. If not, stop reading RIGHT NOW, and go rent the damn thing. Can you dig it? Not much then to say about the movie, other than to play-ee-ayyy the rest of the game. On to The Cast:

First off, we've got James Remar, a generally serious actor, best known (to me) as Gentry, the hard-ass detective that battled Matt Dillon's Bad Bobbie Hughes in one of my all-time favorite films, Drugstore Cowboy. Remar played Ajax, the "tough" Warrior, whose pugalistic tendencies led him into multiple fights, and saw him offering some variation on "Fuck you, I'm tired of being a wimp, let's fight" in just about every scene. Some examples, if I may:
Since when are you a fuckin' diplomat?
Well, good! I'm sick of runnin' from these wimps!
Not if they're wimps!... and I'm sick of this running crap.
Maybe you're all just goin' faggot.
He's right! We're acting like faggots!
Come on, what kind of chickenshit crap is this.
I'll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle.
Ah, fuck him!
Fuckin' A.
And my personal favorite Ajax quotation:
Those lousy skin-headed Fucks!
Damn straight. Moving along, we come to nominal gang-leader, Swan (not my idea of an ideal gang name. Ajax, at least, is a Greek warrior in addition to being a cleanser). Swan was played by Michael Beck, about whom I have nothing to add, except that he also appeared in a movie that FSMOMYOFD regular reader & commenter, John, has requested: Xanadu. Simply stated, Xanadu will not be making an appearence here, as none of The Committee has seen it.

Ok, it was only a matter of time, and here we are. Warriors, come out and playyyy-eee-yayyy. Yes! It's . . . David Patrick Kelly. The man who played Luther, the leader of the ratty-ass gang that shoots Cyrus (for no reason, he just likes doing things like that), before pinning the blame on the Warriors. Which brings the Gramercy Riffs down on them, and . . . ohh, like I said. We've either all seen it, or you need to STOP READING and rent the damn film.

Incidentally, this was Kelly's first movie. What a sweet way to start off. And, perhaps more interestingly, he later appeared in 48 Hours, also directed by Walter Hill, in which he played a former acquaintance of Reggie and Ganz (played by James Remar), named . . . Luther. And just this year he played President Truman in Flags Of Our Fathers.

That's a career trajectory no one was predicting as he clinked beer bottles and screeched.

Now, among the various cops, other gang members, etc, there appear a veritable rogues gallery of second and third (and fourth) tier actors, all of whom seem to have appeared in The Wanderers, the other NYC gang-themed movie of 1979 & 1980. The Wanderers had pretensions to being a serious movie in a way The Warriors didn't bother with. But it also had that flat-out bizarre fight scene on the football field at the end of the movie where one of the gangs appeared to be composed of zombies and other undead. I'm not sure what to say here.

Nonetheless, this brings me to Joe Zimmardi. Who? I don't know. But I notice that his entire acting career is composed of The Warriors and The Wanderers. His only two movies. Think about that.

(Or don't. I'm cool either way.)

Johnny Barnes played Sugar Ray Robinson in Raging Bull. Sugar Ray wasn't a major role in that classic, but as one of Jake LaMotta's obsessions, his scenes were memorable, including of course the amazingly-filmed fight scenes. You never got me down, Ray. You never got me down.

Leon Delaney, another who?, was in last week's FSMOMYOTD, Kiss Meet The Phantom Of The Park. That's all. Nothing important to add, just keeping you informed.

And, approaching the merciful end of this week's post, we get two that are so unclassifiable, I don't even have a joke. First up, Sonny Landham, as one of the dumb cops. You may not know his name, but you know who he is: the American Indian-looking actor who often plays, who'd guess, American Indians. He played Billy, the American Indian-looking character in Predator. And he also played Ganz' American Indian-looking sidekick, Billy Bear, in the previously mentioned 48 Hours. And, though I've never heard of it, and I'm not sure what it is, Landham also appeared in Billy Lone Bear. All of which reminds me, maybe Billy Jack, about an ass-kicking Native American . . uhhh, ass kicker (what was Billy Jack?), needs to have its day in the Friday sun.

And, the stangest of all: Charles Silvern. I look at his IMDB profile, and I discover that among the roles he's had, he was a munchkin in the Wizard Of Oz!!! I don't remember any dwarves in The Warriors. Any help?

He was also in The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three. So, dwarf specialist or not, he's a staple of subway crime movies. I wonder why he wasn't in Money Train? It's gotta be a Wesley Snipes thing.

28 Comments:

Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Did that hurt Luther? It sure looked mighty painful when you slammed into the door like that?

Wow, The Warriors, one of Simmons' favorite movies. A gang able to walk through everyone else's territory, emerge with nary a scratch, and arrive to be able to nail the right guy. What vision. What an idea.
What a crock. Those guys would have been dead in 2 seconds flat.
Then again, the Baseball Furies probably hit like Dent and Maz.

9:31 AM  
Blogger DED said...

Didn't they make a videogame about the movie recently?

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ed- Maz did some hitting! C'mon, man.

Oh, and I'm a couple years older than The Sports Guy, so I'm guessing I was a fan before he was. He followed me here.

Ded- Yeah, according to the IMDB info, it came out last year, and a number of original cast members sem to have done the voices.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

ded - from the other day, yes Mastic is near Shirley. The High School, William Floyd was Shirley, Mastic and Mastic Beach.

Mike- piss on Maz. He's a Yankee now.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

piss on Maz.

Key pinch hits in both games 6 & 7 of the '86 Series? Ed, I'm pretending I never saw this.

Saw what? I dunno, I didn't see anything.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

That review was a thing of beauty. I didn't realize all the 48 Hours connections either.

James Rehmar's character is an interesting one, since he gets picked off when he tries to put the moves on an undercover cop -- played by Mercedes Ruehl -- and gets arrested. That horndog recently had fame as a regular fuckbuddy of the trampy girl on Sex and the City.

Stop looking at me like that. My wife made me watch.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

That horndog recently had fame as a regular fuckbuddy of the trampy girl on Sex and the City. Stop looking at me like that. My wife made me watch.

The only way I'm looking at you is through the eyes of a married man. I, too, watched that silly-ass show, and watched enough to know that Remar appeared well after the show jumped the shark.

Any married man understands the concept of the "couples show," those shows that neither of you really wanna watch, but you each agree to in the efforts of compromise. The Food Network has served that need recently.

And Sex & The City worked because even though it was a chick show, it was a chick show "with benefits."

And sorry for the Alanis reference there. Ironic, huh?

12:21 PM  
Blogger George said...

You know, one of the things that was most sily about The Warriors is the DJ character, who begins playing an album on the radio by dropping the needle on the disc. Didn't they have one real radio consultant around?

Sorry, all those years of college radio make me bitter (and still the owner of about 800 pieces of vinyl).

2:25 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Ed: I used to live in Shirley. Went camping out on Mastic Beach every weekend (or it just seemed that way) in the summer. Timeframe: 1973-1979. I went to William Floyd Elementary. I'd heard that the area had gone way downhill since then.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

I'm with you, George. Apparently all they cared about were the lips for the close-up.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Wow DED, I rarely run into anyone who knows the area, much les lived there.

Pity my folks are stuck there.
It is sort of coming back, but it needs a lot of work.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

The DJ character blows right past "silly," and straight into "utterly proposterous."

But somehow, I can't picture the movie without her.

Lookin' good, Warriors.

Another of the many incongruities: The Gramercy Riffs? As in the wealthy, white neighborhood surrounding Gramercy Park, the only private park in NYC?

Sorry to be racialist & all that, but there weren't too many white dudes in The Riffs, if I remember.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

Agreed. The real Gramercy Riffs would've looked like the elite frat from Animal House. Maybe an outfit involving a yachting motif. "Ahoy, Polloi!"

4:01 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

Check out the Wiki entry for the movie, especially the part on the other gangs.

The Hi-Hats: A SoHo gang whose members dress in mime-style gear

I do believe if I were in that gang, I'd be forced to kick my own ass.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

Alright, one last comment. Sorry, you struck a nerve on a lazy afternoon.

Anyway, it looks like Tony Scott is planning a remake. Enjoy.

4:08 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Otto: I was another Sex and The City viewer. My wife watched it all the time and then dragged me into it. I think we used to watch a show before it or after it (no, not Arliss) so once on the couch, stuck on the couch.

Ed: You're only the second person I've met, since I moved away, that even knows that area. The other was this girl I used to know from Nassau county. She heard that I'd lived there and said, "eeeewwwww." Anyway, small world. :) You might even know some of the people that I knew back then. Or not. Maybe you're trying to forget.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Alright, one last comment. Sorry, you struck a nerve on a lazy afternoon.

That's the whole point. Comment away.

The Wiki is great. Never occurred to me to check that out, with all the info on the other gangs.

Remake??????!!!! No! Why? Can I stop using expmanation points and question marks?! No, I can't!!

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

And it's set to take plave in LA???

No!!!!!

I think someone needs to take out Tony Scott. Can you did it?

4:17 PM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

Somewhat on topic, I met Billy Jack. Back in my undegrad days in the mid-80s. He was in Houston, trying to get the city fathers to give him mucho bucks to make a Billy Jack flick in Houston -- we lost out to Toronto, I believe, but don't know what became of the film. I was a Film major at the Univ. of Houston and he lectured one of the classes. What an ASS.

But the amazing thing, in my time there, we also had some guest appearances by Alan Parker and Terry Gilliam, and the largest crowd by far was to see Billy Jack.

And I'm telling you, Michael Beck, ELO, The Tubes, Gene Kelly, and Olivia Newton-John. Xanadu's really got to be one of these movies.

And Beck also starred in a cop show set in Houston. It was an awful show. I think his co-star was Michael Pere. And Beck was the one cast to be the native Texan wearing the cowboy hat. Pere was the refuge from Chicago stuck with the local dimbulbs.

And that's it from me today.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I was wondering if you were gonna show up, John.

Wasn't Tom Laughlin (the dude that played Billy Jack) kind of a wacko conservative beneath the "counterculture" pose?

I haven't seen the flick in years, but others who have say it doesn't hold up well at all.

As to Xanadu, I can see that it has all the required elements for a FSMOMYOFT . . . except for one, as mentioned in the post: None of the gentlemen on The Committee have seen it.

This is troublesome, as I'm sure you can admit. I acknowledge I have a high threshhold for my own bullshit, but to come at something from a position of 100% ignorance is a stretch even for me.

And, I'll say this clearly: there's no way I (or the Committee members) am sitting down to watch it in 2006. Cheesy gar-bage is fun to watch if you saw it when it first came out. But with virgin eyes when you're pushing 40? Sorry dude, ain't happening.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

Okay, so I'm not done. But Mike, don't forget Walter Hill's "Xanadu." Sure, he did "48 Hours," but he nearly destroyed his career in 1984 with "Streets of Fire," a semi-musical set in some netherworld of the past and present.

Diane Lane's the rock star who's kidnapped by Wilem Dafoe (in his first movie - I think) and Michael Pare's the ex-boyfriend who sets out to save her with an assist from Rick Moranis (Lane's agent) and Amy Madigan.

Since this was early-MTV, there's lots of quick cuts, gang fights, crossing enemy territory by elevated train, etc.

You really should let me write this post sometime.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

I don't know if Laughlin was so much conservative as he was nuts. I'm sure he would say that he was a Libertarian.

Still, Terry Gilliam was a far better, wittier, funnier, intelligent, and nicer person, than Lauglin.

Of course, Gilliam not only autographed my copy of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail script, he also drew a little cartoon.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I think I saw Streets of Fire on cable back in high school. I vaguely remember enjoying it, in a weird way.

Then again, I think I was reqired by law to like anything Diane Lane was in.

You really should let me write this post sometime.

Ooooo, a first! An offer to write a post. Hmmmm. Are we talking about Xanadu or Streets of Fire here?

I'll need to chew on the whole guest blogging thing, but I could see turning over the reins once in a while down the road.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Gilliam not only autographed my copy of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail script, he also drew a little cartoon.

LOL. There's more . . . "stuff" in that sentence than a literary critic could parse and analyze in a month.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

Hey, I'm quite conversant on both movies. And yes, I believe that it was a requirement at that age to like any movie that Diane Lane was in.

For what it's worth, Diane Lane's still rather hot, as she demonstrates in "Hollywoodland."

6:39 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

I love Diane Lane!
Unfatithful was fantastic.
She was also in a movie with Vio Mortenson recently where she also got naked a lot. "Walk on the Moon" or something like that.
Not that there is anything wrong with that.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Walk On The Moon.

That'd be a film sister to Sex in the City, in the "Chick Flick/Chick Show . . . with Benefits" category, right?

1:04 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

YES!

2:16 PM  

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