Retro Daddy

The Past Isn't Over - It Isn't Even Past
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 10, 2008 1:02AM

Streets of Fire - Rock 'n' Roll Remake of The Searchers

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streets of fire burning poster 

Imagine John Ford's The Searchers set in a neon collision of the 1950s with the 1980s, set to rockabilly music. That is Walter Hill's “rock and roll fable” from 1984, Streets of Fire.


As The Blasters sing, “If he wants your baby, you can kiss your baby goodbye.”

streets of fire dafoe 

Willem Dafoe: One Bad Stud

He” is Raven, played by Willem Dafoe in the role that may have typecast him as a psycho. Raven wants Ellen (played by Diane Lane), the lead singer of Ellen Aim and the Attackers. Ellen used to be Tom Cody's girl, before he joined the army. (Tom is played by Michael Pare, but he doesn't pretend to sing here, they way he did in Eddie and the Cruisers.)


Raven and his band of bikers take Ellen from the stage at a concert in the neighborhood where she grew up.

streets of fire ellen aim 

Diane Lane: Tonight Is What It Is to Be Young

Tom, like Ethan Edwards in The Searchers, is home from the war, and sets out to rescue the girl who left him before he joined the army.

streets of fire cody 

Michael Pare: You Can Kiss Your Baby Goodbye

Like Ethan, Tom has a sidekick forced on him. McCoy, played by Amy Madigan, is a vet like Tom. McCoy acts a lot more butch than Jeffrey Hunter did following John Wayne around. As McCoy says, brushing off Tom's instinctive flirting, “You're not my type.” That's for sure. Watch McCoy watch a stripper at the club where Raven's biker gang hangs out.


Tom is so angry with Ellen for leaving him to be a singer that we're not sure what he's going to do to her if he finds that Raven has despoiled her. (It wasn't until the last moment in The Searchers, when Ethan picked his niece up in his arms and said “Let's go home, Debbie,” that we knew he wasn't going to kill her for being with a Comanche.) Judging from Raven's plastic fetish wear - - good for keeping blood and gore off - - and the abattoir where he's keeping her, he plans more than a night of romance with Ellen.


But now that I think about it, why doesn't Raven get on with it? Why does he give Tom and his cavalry time to track him and Ellen down?


Maybe it's Tom that Raven wants.


You know how Tom's Search has to end.

streets of fire tom and ellen 

Ellen is back on stage, and she Aims her Attack straight at our heart and tells us “Tonight Is What It Is to Be Young.”


As Cyrus, the leader who wanted to unify all the New York gangs in Walter Hill's earlier film The Warriors said, “Can you dig it?”

streets of fire poster 



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I've watched this movie so often I've worn out the tape (gotta get myself the DVD) and I never made the connection with The Searchers. D'oh! Willem Dafoe was one of the best villains ever, and all the geeky 50s/80s locals running in with their guns to end the fight always makes me cheer.

Yes, I did come of age in the 80s. Why do you ask? :)
This movie started me on my love affair with Diane Lane.
Procopius - I liked Amy Madigan as McCoy, even though she's "not my type."