Rumble Fish – A classic of filmmaking

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“Rumble Fish” is based on a book written by S.E. Hinton and filmed by Francis Ford Coppola. Both had worked on the film adaptation of Hinton’s classic “The Outsiders”. Like that previous film, Rumble Fish deals with teen angst with an almost film noir texture unusual for a teen flick of the time. It is worth watching just for the filmmaking and the story is a bonus.

Matt Dillon plays Rusty James, the punk brother of town legend “The Motorcycle Boy” who was played by Mickey Rourke. James has a “gang” friends and pretty girl friend Patty played by Diane Lane but he is unsure what he wants to do or what is to happen to his life. He tries to get some pointers from his brother but learns even his brother, who he idolizes, isn’t someone to ask advice.

The film is shot in black and white which gives it a film noir texture. Coppola uses a couple of color gimmicks in a couple of scenes to make a plot point but overall the black and white works. Not much really happens plot wise except you see James struggling growing up in the crappy town he lives in.

The cast is fantastic in retrospect. In 1983 not many had heard of Nicolas Cage, Chris Penn, Lawrence Fishburne, Tom Waits, Vincent Spano, or Sophia Coppola all who were in the movie because they were family or friends of the director. Diane Lane had been in “The Outsiders” and here she does a good job for the small amount of time she is on screen. She seems to be genuinely interested in Dillon and it shows in their scenes together.

The film was shot shortly after the classic “The Outsiders” was shot and both films have the same artsy feel to them. One is in deep colors and the other is in black and white.

The only issue I had with the film is how many times other characters call James by his full name Rusty James. Many times in the same scene. Okay I get it his name is Rusty James.

Rumble Fish (1983)

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