WHAT WE'RE WATCHING: RUMBLE FISH
It’s got just enough biker jackets, worn-out denim, car club coats, fraying cuts and vintage motorcycles to hold our attention for 94 minutes.
Smash together brooding teenage rebels, choreographed gang fights, art-house Coppola, older brother worship, 80’s Nick Cage in a car club jacket, and a 31-year old Mickey Rourke who’s referred to only as The Motorcycle Boy and you’ve got our attention.
Rumble Fish, Francis Ford’s Coppola’s 1983 “art film for teenagers” drifted into semi-obscurity long ago, too arthouse for popular tastes and too pop for the arthouse. But the black hole of obscurity is just where we like to snoop around for late night kicks and pluck out some unlikely design inspiration.
Led by a slack-jawed Matt Dillon as the preening outsider desperate to impress his buds, leave his legacy, and get the girl (Diane Lane), Rumble Fish is a black-and-white film noir style romp that predates the 80s' obsession with James Dean, Levis-wearing toughs, and youthful renegades.
And, of course, it’s got just enough biker jackets, worn-out denim, car club coats, fraying cuts and vintage motorcycles to hold our attention for 94 minutes.
After completing principal photography on cult-classic The Outsiders, Coppola basically kept the majority of his cast and crew in Tulsa for another two weeks and secretly shot a whole second film. With The Outsiders, Coppola was upfront about his intentions to produce a “classically-made film,” wherein he “obeyed all the rules”. Rumble Fish, on the other hand, came to represent a reward for his obedience, “an opportunity to make something a little wilder, a little more experimental.”
And boy is it experimental. Dripping with German Expressionism, Rumble Fish is a masterpiece wildly out of step with anything else Hollywood churned out at the time (or since). Unapologetic, bold and deliciously self-indulgent, the film perfectly captures that awkward stage between boy and man, when the recklessness of youth clashes against the weary ennui of early adulthood.