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Rumble Fish

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Rumble Fish (1983)

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The Motorcycle Boy's Never Coming Back

Rusty James can't live up to his brother's reputation. His brother can't live it down.

No leader can survive becoming a legend.

One of two S.E. Hinton novels Francis Ford Coppola directed in 1983, Rumble Fish is a stylized black-and-white film about the death of gang culture in a rough-and-tumble town full of stunted youths. The central character is the strutting Rusty James (Matt Dillon), a foul-mouthed lunkhead clad in sweaty tank tops, who passes his time at the billiards hall waiting for "something" to happen in his life. That something might be the return of his brother, known only as the Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke), from exile in California. Charismatic and intelligent, the Motorcycle Boy once led numerous wide-eyed followers into battle, into the "rumbles" once commonplace in town. Rusty James wants to take over that role, but lacks the smarts necessary for leadership, nearly getting himself killed in an opening fight. The Motorcycle Boy stops the fight with equal parts efficiency and cool, and Rusty James seems delighted by his brother's return. But it quickly becomes clear that a local cop (William Smith) is still gunning for the Motorcycle Boy, waiting for him to slip up, even though the mysterious youth has developed a weary philosophy of life and a skeptical view of his former power. As the Motorcycle Boy seems more and more distant, lost in deaf and color-blind fugues, Rusty James gets into greater trouble, running afoul of his girlfriend (Diane Lane) and friends (Nicolas Cage, Christopher Penn, Vincent Spano), and seeming on the path to destruction.

Rumble Fish is an American 1983 drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It is based on the novel Rumble Fish by S. E. Hinton, who also co-wrote the screenplay.
The film centers on the relationship between Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke), a revered former gang leader wishing to live a more peaceful life, and his younger brother, Rusty James (Matt Dillon), an uncool teenaged hoodlum who aspires to become as feared as Motorcycle Boy. The film's marketing tagline was, "Rusty James can't live up to his brother's reputation. His brother can't live it down."
Coppola wrote the screenplay for the film with Hinton on his days off from shooting The Outsiders. He made the films back-to-back, retaining much of the same cast and crew. The film is notable for its avant-garde style with a film noir feel, shot on stark high-contrast black-and-white film, using the spherical cinematographic process with allusions to French New Wave cinema and German Expressionism. Rumble Fish features an experimental score by Stewart Copeland, drummer of the musical group The Police, who used a Musync, a new device at the time.

At Rumble Fish's world premiere at the New York Film Festival, there were several walkouts and at the end of the screening, boos and catcalls.[17] Former head of production at Paramount Pictures Michael Daly remembers legendary producer Robert Evans' reaction to Coppola's film, "Evans went to see Rumble Fish, and he remembers being shaken by how far Coppola had strayed from Hollywood. Evans says, 'I was scared. I couldn't understand any of it.'"[4]
At the San Sebastián International Film Festival, it won the International Critics' Big Award. The movie was a box office disaster on initial release, grossing only $2.5 million domestically;[1] its estimated budget was $10 million; a large sum for the time. Coppola utilized many new filmmaking techniques never before used in the production of a motion picture. The film polarized critics, some mainstream reviewers enjoying it, while others disliked Coppola's film, criticizing Coppola's style over substance approach. The film has since grown in esteem and is held in high regard by many film fans.
Rumble Fish was released on October 8, 1983 and grossed $18,985 on its opening weekend, playing in only one theater. Its widest release was in 296 theaters and it finally grossed $2.5 million domestically.

Rumble Fish was not well received by most mainstream critics upon its initial release, receiving nine negative reviews in New York City, mostly from broadcast media and newspapers with harsh reviews by David Denby in New York and Andrew Sarris in The Village Voice.[19] In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote that "the film is so furiously overloaded, so crammed with extravagant touches, that any hint of a central thread is obscured".[20] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars and wrote, "I thought Rumble Fish was offbeat, daring, and utterly original. Who but Coppola could make this film? And, of course, who but Coppola would want to?"[21] Gary Arnold in The Washington Post wrote, "It's virtually impossible to be drawn into the characters' identities and conflicts at even an introductory, rudimentary level, and the rackety distraction of an obtrusive experimental score ... frequently makes it impossible to comprehend mere dialogue".[22] Time magazine's Richard Corliss wrote, "In one sense, then, Rumble Fish is Coppola's professional suicide note to the movie industry, a warning against employing him to find the golden gross. No doubt: this is his most baroque and self-indulgent film. It may also be his bravest."[23]
Jay Scott wrote one of the few positive reviews for the film in The Globe and Mail. "Francis Coppola, bless his theatrical soul, may have the commercial sense of a newt, but he has the heart of a revolutionary, and the talent of a great artist."[24] Jack Kroll also gave a rare rave in his review for Newsweek: "Rumble Fish is a brilliant tone poem ... Rourke's Motorcycle Boy is really a young god with a mortal wound, a slippery assignment Rourke handles with a fierce delicacy."[25] The film has a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 63 metascore on Metacritic. David Thomson has written that Rumble Fish is "maybe the most satisfying film Coppola made after Apocalypse Now".[26]
Despite mixed reviews, Rumble Fish won the highest prize in the 32nd San Sebastián International Film Festival, the International Critics' Big Award.[

Release Date: October 8, 1983 @ Loews Tower East

Distrib: Universal

Boxoffice: $2,494,480 2013: $6,461,900


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