Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Lords of Flatbush

Released a year after American Graffiti and five years after Sha Na Na created the Fake Fifties (good-hearted nostalgia from some Columbia students as society was falling apart), sure, it treads into cliché (leather-jacketed toughs) but such people were really around. An attempt to cash in on Graffiti or to show a different, ethnic white, working-class, East Coast version of the period? (Graffiti is about something real then too: relatively rich kids and their car culture in Southern California.) Good story lines (throwing realistic curves) and sexy (Chico and Jane burn up the screen). Only two things bothered me: 1970s hair on men and the bad soundtrack (except this great doo-wop scene: never mind the Spanish dubbing at the end). Now that I’ve looked up the reviews I think I understand: ‘low-budget independent’. So it’s not ‘Happy Days’ laziness or condescension so much as that limit: no money to get the rights to good music, and if you’re not paying your actors (well), they won’t get haircuts for the movie. Also, granted, a gang would have worn their hair long but slicked back; I’m talking about the bit parts. Church watch: good to see a traditional priest (cassock and biretta) at the wedding reception but I guess the filmmaker thought the audience wouldn’t know what he was so he put a pectoral cross on him. Whatever happened to Perry King? He was good. Interesting too to film and TV buffs because the other lead, Sylvester Stallone, was still an unknown, and Henry Winkler played an un-Fonzie greaser, a semi-comic second banana who, like him, was Jewish. (This role probably got him his big break.) I know people from Brooklyn then. The ethnic mix was like that.

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