23 November 2006 | alexataisling
my favourite film
I saw Rumble Fish in a small a cinema in Dublin when it came out in 1983. It became a cult hit around town and was shown every Monday afternoon for for £1 for months. I bunked off work often to see it as did many people, I got to know. It's hard to say what made it quite so special, god knows I've tried over the years in those party/pub moments when the conversation is flagging and someone asks, 'what is your favourite film?' Obviously they want to know why when you come up with something they've never heard of, hate or are indifferent to. I read Susie Hinton's books afterwards and also sought out the Outsdiders (also from a Hinton novel) which was made at the same time and was a good film with some of the wistful intensity of teenage life so strong in Rumble Fish but was like the straight, conventional brother by comparison. I think Susie Hinton went straight to Coppola's heart and she worked with him on the two films, even appearing in cameo in both. It is amazing to me that her books were marketed as teenage fiction, they are to my mind mature American fiction and transpose beautifully to the screen. The plot is a simple one and necessarily so yet the implications are universal. The style, camera-work, casting and soundtrack work together so well. I don't think that even in the Godfather Coppopla ever got it so right. The dreamy quality of the film, the distorted imagery and the fantastic soundtrack reflect the physical and mental damage suffered by the James family, Rusty's brain damage from one too many rumbles, Dad's alcoholism and the Motorcycle Boys colour blindness, depression and death wish. It's like an elegy for the old west and the constraints of small town life, John Ford meets David Lynch. It also marked the beginning of the end for Zoetrope studios and we'll never know what great movies we lost when that motorcycle gang left town.