Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay: S.E. Hinton & Francis Ford Coppola
Based on the Novel by: S.E. Hinton
Starring: Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, Vincent Spano, Nicolas Cage
Producer: Doug Claybourne, Fred Roos
Running Time: 94 min
BBFC Certificate: 18
Francis Ford Coppola is responsible for making four of my all time top 20 or so favourite films of all time, more than any other director. His run of work in the 70’s – The Godfather Parts 1 & 2, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now are all staggeringly great works of cinema in my eyes as well as many others’. However, his name doesn’t spring straight to mind when people ask who my favourite director is. This is largely down to the fact that after this extraordinary foursome, his work ranged from curious, to pretentious, to mediocre to downright baffling (what made him take on Jack?). Rumble Fish, made in 1983, came somewhere in between though for myself and many. I’d not seen it for a long time and with Masters of Cinema releasing a stunningly well restored Blu-Ray edition, what better time to revisit this interesting addition to Coppola’s filmography.
The film follows Rusty James (Matt Dillon), a misguided youth that wants to rule the streets with his gang of friends, much like his older brother ‘Motorcycle Boy’ (Mickey Rourke) who mysteriously disappeared a few years ago. During a violent fight (or ‘rumble’) between Rusty and another gang leader, Motorcycle Boy returns. He’s not quite his usual self though and doesn’t seem to share his younger brother’s enthusiasm for bringing back the gang warfare of old. The film becomes a coming of age tale, with Rusty struggling under the shadow of his legendary sibling and the disappointment of his alcoholic father (Dennis Hopper) and long gone mother. Lacking the intelligence and maturity of his brother, he doesn’t seem to realise that he’s better off without them all.