4 December 2004 | stevenfallonnyc
I always had a soft spot for "The Lords of Flatbush" ever since I watched it countless times on cable in the late 70's. It's not really a "good" film in the true sense of the word, but it works well because of the charm of the actors and the "fly on the wall" style where there are many scenes where nothing much really happens or progressed, but you watch the characters just be themselves.
Sylvester Stallone (Stanley), Paul Mace (Wimpy), Perry King (Chico) and Henry Winkler (Butchy) all play their roles with honesty and heart. It's interesting to see how the film pretty much centers around King's Chico first and foremost, with Stallone's Stanley a close second. Mace's Wimpy is there in a supporting role, and Winkler's "Butchy" disappears for a lot of the time. Mace and Winkler do have one good scene each without any of the other Lords around, when Mace talks with Moose Mombo in the poolhall (alone until the other Lords show up), and Winkler's talk with Eddie the egg cream guy, although this scene is pretty short.
Stanley is the tough guy of the group, while Chico is the studly one, the best looking of the four (although Stanley's girlfriend is much hotter than Chico's, and they are both best girlfriends). It becomes apparent at one point that Chico is pretty much a jerk, and has a constant tension with Stanley. Chico is a jerk to Stanley before they "trade hits" and especially on top of the roof, where Stanley tries to communicate seriously with Chico about imagination. Actually, the last bunch of scenes of the film all revolve around Chico's inability to get along with almost anyone, from the guy dating the girl he likes, the girl herself telling him to grow up, and then with Stanley on the roof. It is a little odd seeing Chico and Stanley have all these tense moments, than seeing Chico at Stanley's wedding with his arm around him like they are the greatest of friends.
Stanley is actually much more than a muscle-bound oaf, he's actually very sensitive and has a heart as well underneath the wisecracks. He doesn't have to marry his beautiful girlfriend when he finds out she's not pregnant but does anyway, and he tries to relate his ideas on traveling within your mind to Chico, who shoots him down. Stanley seems to always be the one trying to make their friendship work, even coming up with the idea of stealing a car "for Chico" so he'd have a better chance with Susan Blakely, the gorgeous new girl in class.
None of he music is original 50's music, it's all new music made to sound like it came from that era but some of it is pretty good, especially the songs sung by the gravelly-voiced singer of the opening song.
The film is gritty and more realistic because of the low production values. Especially giving the film a realistic feel is a lot of the background lines and things the actors come up with, much sounding very improvised.
It was great to have this on a widescreen DVD. The short production notes inside the DVD are pretty interesting, saying that there were scenes reshot and even a whole new ending shot, because they wanted a more "upbeat" ending. If the original "downbeat" ending is still around somewhere, as well as the original scenes, they'd be great to put on a Special Edition DVD, which would make sense considering the star power of the actors. The picture on the rear of the DVD is of a scene not in the film, so that's a nice small bonus. There's also at least one thing not in the film that's on the trailer.
I bought this on sale for 7 bucks, definitely a great deal. Many DVDs go way down in price because of a looming Special Edition so who knows?