Perhaps you heard Stephen Colbert say this recently and had no idea what he was talking about. Find out Thursday night when Movies on the Block screens Walter Hill’s 1979 awesomely awesome movie ‘The Warriors’ starring David Patrick Kelly as the villain Luther. These may not be method actors but you enjoy every minute spent watching them. Just try not looking at Deborah Van Valkenburgh when she is on the screen — that face! This pre-Guiliani comic book vision of a gang war in New York City is weirdly benign — several gang members are positively adorable (Jew-fros anybody?) — but the fight scenes do not disappoint. Crazy gang outfits (the Baseball Furies!), unforgettable characters with great faces. . . it’s just fun as hell. Upon its initial theatrical release it drew the predictable young male audience, with some significant fights occasionally breaking out. Film fanatics soon caught on following rave reviews from Pauline Kael, as well as Janet Maslin in The New York Times, but theater managers pulled it pretty quickly. Then came vhs and its second life as a cult fave. Maslin. . .
The film is as handsome to watch as it is preposterous to listen to, full of gorgeous nocturnal city images that splash blaring neon colors against filthy, rain-slicked gray. Mr. Hill uses subways, jukeboxes, spectacularly eerie costumes and deserted streets to create a stark yet extravagant visual style, and a grimy little world in which everything looks curiously brand-new. Thanks to a lot of wipes and slow-motion shots, you are never in danger of forgetting that somebody clever is at the helm.
I don’t know if this will be the ’25th Anniversary Ultimate Director’s Cut’ to which Hill has added actual comic book segues between scenes. Either one is great, but rent the anniversary dvd for the special features with interviews.
Free, Thursday, dusk, runs about 90 minutes, MoTB, Grant’s Block, Westminster at Union Street