For years, Roger Corman was the man in Hollwood. Not only did he make some great movies, he made lots and lots and lots of movies! That’s because Corman had a great appreciation for the two-for-one deal – if you’ve already paid for actors, crew members, and equipment – and if you finish your movie early – then why not keep them all around and make another movie? Genius. A young Francis Ford Coppola was one of the many filmmakers Corman helped out throughout his career – a group which also includes Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, and Ron Howard to name a few – and it seems that Coppola learned a bit about thriftiness from his mentor …
Rumble Fish was shot immediately after The Outsiders and utilizes much of the same cast and crew. But they are very different movies – where the latter was bright, idealistic, and clear-cut, the former was dark and foggy. Rumble Fish is, as he says, very much an art film, albeit one for teenagers, which is why it probably never really got its due.
The primarily black-and-white film is based on the novel Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The movie 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), a teenaged hoodlum who aspires to become as feared as Motorcycle Boy – “Rusty James can’t live up to his brother’s reputation. His brother can’t live it down.” Thanks in large part to The Outsiders, Rumble Fish has an incredible cast that includes Dennis Hopper, Chris Penn, Nicholas Cage, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Tom Waits. It also happens to feature an excellent soundtrack by Stewart Copeland, drummer of the musical group The Police.
So good, and so cool. Watch it.