The Fifties nostalgia craze started about 1971, and lasted all through the 70s, right into the early eighties, a whole decade of nostalgia devoted to half of a decade one decade previous! I thought it was insane at the time and still do, even though the nostalgic image reduced one of the most interesting decades in American history to irritating clichéd images of leather jackets. It hasn't really ended either, which is just as well, because no sane person could stand nostalgia for the 70s.
"Lords of Flatbush" might seem like just a cheap cash in on a fad, but it's actually very well written. It features minimalist dialogue and slice of life vignettes with very honest performances by King and Stallone. It looks cheaply produced but to me that added to the attraction, it seems to be done in an almost documentary style. AS such, its not really a film about the "Fifties"---besides the leather jackets and hairstyles, it has little to say about a specific era, but a lot to say about the human condition.
This tale of four friends could have been set at any period in history, and the dialogue for once is a true indicator of the mental states of 17 and 18 year olds, there's no breathless philosophizing here. The characters seem to struggle with what they want to say, unable to express their feelings with limited vocabulary and intellect. Watching it is sometimes painful. The best scenes involve Chico's relationship with Jane Bradshaw. (This guy deserves a medal for his taste in females) Chico tries to express his emotions, but hes too young and impatient. He thinks he knows what to say and do, but his words and actions just don't match up.In the end, his efforts at a relationship are too clumsy. I still feel bad for him.
I was never a fan of Stallone, but I like his performance here. The main problem with this film is that it's too short. The honest performances make me want to know more about these guys, and it ends abruptly while everything is still going on. Still, taking a look at this movie is worth the time, especially nowadays when finding an honest film made with integrity is very rare. Its kind of---nostalgia for nostalgia! Besides, even if you hate it, you still get to look at Susan Blakely.
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