by Tammy Vrieze
Everybody wants to be the “Motorcycle Boy”. He’s cooler than the Fonz! Even though he put an end to the rumbles, his reputation for being the toughest gang leader in town proceeds him. Nobody messes with the “Motorcycle Boy”. With the exception of the local cops, he is admired by the whole town–especially by his younger brother, Rusty James, who can never seem to fill his shoes.
Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish is in the hot seat for this month’s video review. Based on the novel by S.E. Hinton (who also wrote The Outsiders and Tex) this film has little in the way of plot, instead relying on character development to hold our interest for an hour and a half. I hated this film when it came out in 1983, but now sixteen years later I enjoyed watching the cast of stars before they were stars and Coppola’s cinematography is brilliant. Filmed in both black and white and color it is visually stunning in spite of the dialogues. Sadly it has very little to do with motorcycles.
The title Rumble fish refers to the Siamese fighting fish that the “Motorcycle Boy” becomes obsessed with. He tells Rusty James they need separate aquariums or they will kill each other and if you hold a mirror up to their tank they will kill themselves. He feels the need to free the fish into the ocean. We are supposed to see a deep connection between “Moto Boy” and the fish.
I need an entire paragraph for the cast. The film stars Mickey Rourke and Matt Dillon. While Nicholas Cage, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, Lawrence Fishburne, Vincent Sparo, Chris Penn, Tom Waits, and Diana Scarwid all co-star somehow sharing the same screen. Stewart Copeland of the Police did the music for the film. I did enjoy this film the second time around but it’ll probably be another sixteen years before I watch it again.