Friday, April 20, 2007

FRIDAY MORNING

Ahhhhh. Friday. It's been a busy week, as the regulars here know. I suspect there'll be more to come. Anyhow, as the months go on I sincerely doubt I'll be able to post the Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day with any sort of regularity. Sorry.

That fact bums me out, believe me. As you might guess, those posts are the most enjoyable to write, and I love the fact that they seem to actually gather a solid core of readers & commenters. That said, I assume it's also obvious that they actually take a while to plan, "research," and write. Unlike most posts which I just sit down and let rip, the FSMOMYOTD posts take real time. I often start them well before Friday morning. Therefore . . .

I hope as I get used to my schedule I'll be able to write and post these, but I fear that the weekly nature of the series has passed. I know it's no substitute for the real thing, but here's an older FSMOMYOTD, from last November. It's one of my favorites, and I think it's the first one that really hit the groove I was looking for when I started doing these last summer. Read it if you want, or skip and it and tell me what a bum I am. As always, the choice is yours:

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.

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7 Comments:

Blogger fridge said...

David Patrick Kelly was also in the cable classic Dreamscape .

I think his head turned into a cobra's head in that Dennis Quaid classic.

I think they're also making a video game of "The Warriors" where you can travel around NYC kicking ass Grand Theft Auto style. Not really my cup of tea, though.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Mort said...

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)

It's called speed reading, Mike. A skill I learned early in life. It has been invaluable throughout the years when dealing with heavy accumulations of wordage. Better than a skim, lighter than whole milk, it does a body good. I have always enjoyed your prolific writing style, don't go changing. Mort out.

12:08 PM  
Blogger DCup said...

Let me say something about Michael Beck. From my fourteen year old perspective way back in '79....yum!

David Patrick Kelly as Truman? Now I'll have to let my son see Flags of Our Fathers on pay-per-view so I can see him in that role.

Because I'm still 14 in my heart, I still clink empty water bottles on my fingers and screech "Warriors, come out and playay!" every chance I get.

12:48 PM  
Blogger DED said...

You could always opt for monthly editions. That way you'll have time to do the research.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Never saw it.

Come to think of it, my record is pretty poor with most of the FSMOMYOTDs.

1:01 AM  
Blogger DWPittelli said...

"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.

No, not the scariest. In fact, the Warriors refer to them as "wimps," say to them "I'll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle," and after the Warriors beat the crap out of them, one of the Warriors says, "I knew they were a bunch of pussies" or some such.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Fridge - a video game of "The Warriors". Not my cup of tea, either. But according to the IMDB page, it looks like some of the original actors did voices.

What concerns me is this plan for Tony Scott to do a remake, set in LA! Heinous.

Mort - Thanks.

(And how was that for a short reply?)

DCup - So you dug that leather vest-over-bare chest look when you were a girl, huh? Or was it the feathered hair?

The 70s, baby!

Ded - monthly editions. That way you'll have time to do the research.

Ded has just revealed himself as one of those I referred to early who is neither a lawyer, nor married to one.

What's this "time" thing of which you speak?

Furious - That's you & Toast then. He hasn't seen many of 'em either. Surprises me in both cases, but we all have out weak spots. ;-)

DW - It's been a few years, so I won't go to the mat over it, but I think Ajax said they were wimps. But he said everyone was a wimp, or a pussy, or a fag, etc.

If I recall, the others were pretty scared when they first saw the Furies, and the film threw in that "scary & ominous" synthesizer music.

7:18 AM  

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