"The Lords Of Flatbush" is a coming of age movie - part of the trend in Hollywood in the 70's of looking back nostalgically to the 50's, when things were a lot simpler. Girls were girls and guys were guys and Ike was president and everybody had a house and two parents, and all was well. The Lords (or Lord's as it's spelled on their jackets) are basically a gang (or, a "social athletic club" as they call themselves.) They're high school drifters, perhaps smarter than they seem but not seeming to have much ambition aside from girls and the odd bit of mischief like stealing a car or getting into fights. But high school is coming to an end and the future is beckoning and they all react in different ways.
To be honest, I really didn't find much of a story here; certainly, nothing that kept me glued to the screen as I watched this. Mostly, it's interesting to watch because of the cast. The two who made it biggest, of course, were Henry Winkler and Sylvester Stallone. Within a couple of years of making this movie, Winkler would be a TV pheenom as "The Fonz" on "Happy Days," and Stallone, of course, would be nominated for an Oscar for his performance as "Rocky Balboa" in "Rocky" - which would become his most famous and iconic character. But at this point neither were particularly well known. It might be a bit anachronistic, but it's hard to watch this film and not see the genesis of "the Fonz" or "Rocky" coming through in Stallone's "Stanley Rosiello" and Winkler's "Butchey Weinstein." On the subject of anachronisms, although there's no connection with the cast, you can't look at the chaotic classroom scene at the beginning of the movie without thinking at least for a moment of "Welcome Back, Kotter," which would be on TV about a year later.
Basically, the performances here are fine. I thought one of the more interesting characters was Jane, played by Susan Blakely. She's strangely drawn to Chico (played by Perry King) - perhaps it's a sort of "bad boy" attraction - but somehow she also knows that he's not ready for what the future holds and she'll only go so far with him, while holding on to a much more promising relationship with another guy. Unlike Chico, Stanley does grow and develop as a character, coming to understand the meaning of responsibility, which probably led up to the most nostalgic moment of the movie for me.
I was not a child of the 50's, but rather of the 70's and early 80's. But as the movie focused in on Stanley and Fran's wedding, I really did get a feeling of nostalgia, particularly as the closing "Wedding Song" played - thinking back myself to friends from high school that I haven't seen in decades, wondering what happened to them, reflecting on choices I made and how my life turned out (and it's good!) I liked the ending. It doesn't turn this into an especially good movie. There have been better coming of age movies, and there really wasn't any consistent plot holding this together so that it really did seem to drag out a lot longer than its 1:25 runtime. But it is interesting to see actors like Winkler and Stallone at this stage of their careers, before they became famous. (4/10)
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