Hard to fathom that a flick about a ration of reprobates running for their lives from an onslaught of equally as reprehensible New York City gangs circa the late 1970’s would have you pulling for the former. Yet, somehow, “The Warriors” pulls it off.
“The Warriors” (1979): Caste System and Killer Sound
Classic Film Feature
by John Smistad
The lion’s share of the credit…
for the gut punch impact of “The Warriors” goes straight to the deliciously down and dirty vision of director and co-screen writer Walter Hill (“48 Hrs.”, “The Long Riders”). Right smack dab in the middle of this barrage of enormously enthralling action sequences combined with expert orchestration of fight scenes both brisk and brutal, there is an unexpected and deftly executed moment of poignancy. As Hill allows us a rare moment to catch our breath, we witness a remarkable interaction on a train. Between fresh face kids on prom night who get all the breaks. And their hardened, hardscrabble peers who know only that which is irrevocably broken. No words are spoken. The eyes say it all. The scene could well have been left to the cutting room floor. And “The Warriors” would still stand as a fine action crime thriller. But the fact that it clearly mattered to Hill to include it reveals that the filmmaker intends for us to understand that there, but for the Grace of God, go we.
And to never take what you got for granted.
On another note.
Literally. This may be, if not the first, certainly one of the initial instances of an electronica music score serving as the soundtrack for a feature-length film. All courtesy of some guy named Barry De Vorzon. Hey, he did compose the theme music which the TV soap opera “The Young and the Restless” has used now for nigh on four and half decades. Dude’s got skillz.
And I simply must…
as one of his biggest fans on the planet, recognize the great rock guitar virtuoso Joe Walsh. His rousing riffs provide a sonically stalwart serenade for the film’s finish. “In the City” (De Vorzon strikes again, kids. He co-wrote the tune with Walsh.) punctuates the closing credits as they roll over “The Warriors” strolling along Coney Island beach. It is early morning now. Miraculously, the gang has cheated death all through the night. And yet, as the rising sun shines on these weary waifs, indications are that this may very soon become an erstwhile home.
And, once departed, one to which none of them are likely to ever return.
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