Walter Hill’s Best Movies

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Like a rockabilly cousin to “The Warriors,” 1984’s “Streets of Fire” is set in an elevated, stylized universe, splitting the difference between the 1950s and 1980s, set in the wrong part of a studio town with no name. Rock star Ellen Aim (an incredibly young Diane Lane) is kidnapped by a biker gang led by the psychotic Raven (an incredibly young Willem Defoe). Ellen’s manager/boyfriend Billy Fish (Rick Moranis) pays local tough guy Tom Cody (Michael Pare) to save her, not realizing that Tom is Ellen’s old flame.

With a ’50s rock and roll score by Ry Cooder and original songs by Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and Meatloaf collaborator Jim Steinman, “Streets of Fire” is as close to a full musical as Hill has ever come. tempted. As with many of his best films, it wasn’t an immediate success but became quietly influential, especially in the burgeoning cyberpunk and anime genres.

Like “The Warriors,” the film makes no attempt to explain its fantasy world, aside from the pre-credits descriptor “A rock and roll fable.” The dialogue is all a harsh crackle that sounds better in some actors’ mouths than others; while Moranis and Amy Madigan (as Tom’s hard-nosed sidekick) make a meal out of their lines, Pare often makes it look like he’s not quite in on the joke. It’s also worth noting that this is perhaps Hill’s biggest female cast, including Lane, Madigan, Deborah Van Valkenburg (of “The Warriors”) as Tom’s sister, and future comedian of “Rugrats” Elizabeth Daily as Ellen Aim’s enthusiastic fan.

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