Forgotten Friday: Streets Of Fire

Thanks for checking out our Forgotten Fridays feature. This is a feature to review some older films that maybe you have forgotten about or maybe never got around to seeing that we just want to share. They may not be old, maybe not forgotten, but they are not new. Just fun to share.

Today, we review: Streets Of Fire

Genre: Action (or as they put it, ‘A Rock & Roll fable”)
Directed by: Walter Hill
Starring: Michael Pare, Diane Lane, Willem Dafoe, Amy Madigan, Rick Moranis, and Bill Paxton.
Released: June 1st, 1984


When The Bombers, a motorcycle gang led by Raven Shaddock (Dafoe) kidnap singer Ellen Aim (Lane) during a benefit concert in her urban hometown of Richmond, Ellen’s manager Billy Fish (Moranis) hires her-ex-boyfriend turned mercenaries Tom Cody (Pare) and McCoy (Madigan) to plan a rescue.


“Fire” throws most of its strengths at the audiences right away: the impressive soundtrack and music numbers, the production design with a timeless feel where it isn’t easy to tell if it is 1958 or 1984. That goes for the cars, the hairstyles, the energy. The first act of the film crackles with life and a steady pace. There’s menace with Dafoe and his second in Greer played by Lee Ving. Humor is supplied by Moranis, Paxton as Clyde, the loudmouth bartender, and a scene stealing Ed Begley Jr cameo. Amy Madigan has the better balance of being a tough gal with some of the better one liners of the film (“You know some of you guys have some cute little asses. It’d be a real shame if I had to blow’em off”).

The Blasters, who were an actual band from the ‘80s, appear in the film as the Torchie’s bar band. Marine Jahan – Jennifer Beals’ body double for the dancing in ‘Flashdance’- pushes the film’s PG rating in her suggestive dance numbers. All of the music “concert” type bits are gold. Diane Lane in her lip-synchs REALLY gets into it.
And that’s one of the reasons the movie survives- through that soundtrack.

Then there’s a fight with sledgehammers in the latter half of the film, as well as a somewhat iconic scene where Dafoe screams in a rage while his knuckles crack.

In my view, “Streets” is a film that grows on you and you can overlook some of the rough spots. I’ll start with the three early strengths—that also turn out to be crutches. If the pace of the first 45 minutes of the film is well handled, by the second act Cody and company ditch cars, take the A Train, run into bad cops and pick up stray characters. As a result of this- and an absence of the slick ripped page editing wipe effects (that featured heavily in the first ten minutes of the film) slows the momentum down. EG Daily shows up as a fan of Ellen’s who goes along for the ride. The character is amusing at first, but really good for almost nothing. At least the Sorels (a ‘Temptations’ inspired group) get to be part of the closing music numbers.

But there is a long sequence between Ellen’s return to Richmond and Cody’s slugfest with Raven. Things simply come to a crash and burn halt. Ry Cooder’s music with the bluesy- slide riffs are the only thing stopping a person from going to sleep. Cody’s bummy wardrobe does not help.

I really also hate to say it- but the uneven pace also make Michael Pare look more bland than the first half of the film. I would not call his acting bad. But once his character hasn’t got much to do, neither does the actor. Compare it to the actors around him. When THEY have characters who seem to have nothing to do , they find something to do. Pare appears to have lost 90 percent of the charisma he had in the first half of the film. You can tell. I have a rule of thumb here. Maybe it’s always been me. When an actor takes a role and that character looks bored and wishes he/she would rather leave town? Guess what? I’m bored and think about leaving.

Yes, the “dead” scenes go a little into the character of Tom Cody. It should have either been covered before or during the rescue. Not after.

Now, for a personal pet peeve of mine.
I consider myself lucky to get the ‘Streets Of Fire’ DVD BEFORE Universal re-issued it on DVD to the public. They replaced the iconic poster design and replaced it with bad photoshopped images of Pare and Lane. LAME. The re-issue also didn’t bother to include any of the things that the fans of the movie wanted. Like behind the scenes footage. Or…the music videos . Even if it was the actors lip-synching to Dan Hartman’s “I can Dream About You” – a big hit off the film’soundtrack. No- it’s bare bones, just like the first DVD release. The only different thing is the bad “improved” cover. Sometimes I wonder what studios are thinking. The original one-sheet rules and is a more eye-catching. I know this has nothing to do with the film itself, but it hits on one of two personal pet peeves of mine when it comes to DVDs. Maybe if “Fire” gets a Blu-Ray, somebody will throw on the goodies.

I know it’s only a cry in he wilderness.

“Streets Of Fire” is a fun little mild action-adventure with some standout performances (Lane, Dafoe and especially Madigan) one good sledgehammer fight and the music numbers, be it the actors acting like rock stars, Ry Cooder’s slide guitar or The Blasters killing time in The Blue Shadows.

I am not Rodney, but I am not that much different than Rodney in this regard: since all of these Forgotten Friday reviews are going to be what I would already give a high rating to, I had a Tv, Rent or Buy scale going on, but it would seem that an overwhelming majority of my picks get a BUY rating.

So with every Forgotten Friday you see from now on, you get to rate your anticipation for yourself!

TV If you are at least a little curious, catch it if it comes on TV.

Rent If it is something you have heard of and forgotten, or just remember enjoying this as much as I did once upon a time, go rent it.

Buy But if you are like me, and you agree with my review you should go buy it. (Especially if has the original cover art- happy hunting!) If its featured here, I already have.

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About Darren

"Revenge is sweet and not fattening." Alfred Hitchcock

3 thoughts on “Forgotten Friday: Streets Of Fire

  1. Finally , a review of one of my favorite films that actually gets it! You’re spot on all the way! And Universal should’ve reissued it with the music videos, they had an VHS verison! I believe the thing that drives this film into the cult-zone is the intense music of soundtrack. Both the opening and closing songs written by Jim Steinman (who also wrote for Meatloaf) teamed up with the great Walter Hill and gave off an crazy vibe. Years later I still get excited seeing/hearing the movie. It’s what I pay for at the movies -entertainment. Thanks for remembering it!

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