Streets of Fire (1984)

Streets of Fire (1984), directed by Walter Hill.

When pop star Diane Lane is kidnapped by creepy motorcycle gang boss Willem Dafoe, her former flame and tough guy Michael Paré returns home to get her back. He acquires sidekick army girl Amy Madigan but has to put up with unusually snide manager Rick Moranis. He can get the girlfriend back, but does he want to keep her? And what happens when the gang comes around for revenge?

A western plot (the hero wears a duster and uses a lever-action rifle) in an alternative 1950s reality. Much comic snappy patter and brawling. I wish I had the exploding/burning car and motorcycle concession for this film.

It did poorly at the box office; maybe just bad timing. I don't know why it is so watchable but it's always been a favorite of mine. I don't particularly like 80s pop music but I like it here. The bluesy, heavy dobro score by Ry Cooder is very cool. Some Blasters tunes and Robert Townsend shows up with a doo-wop group.

The train and grubby under-the-El locations were shot in Chicago; looks just like it, too. (Later: I'm told almost all of it was shot on a studio lot).

Walter Hill tends to deliver entertainment value. I'm fond of his Hard Times (1975), Southern Comfort (1981), and Last Man Standing. I'll have to revisit some of his other pictures. And note his projects as a producer: the Alien (1979) films, Deadwood. According to the IMDB his favorite directors are John Ford, Howard Hawks, John Huston, Raoul Walsh, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone. That makes perfect sense: all the hard men.

The DVD is 4:3 letterboxed. This was available as a Universal HD DVD but a Blu-ray has not yet appeared. I'd buy one.

(Later: Shout Factory produced a very nice Blu-ray and I did buy one. The thumbnails below are from the old DVD).