a pinball in a machine, rusty james

A knowing homage to the French New Wave with its echoes of surrealism and the Expressionist cinema of F.W. Murnau and Robert Weine; in addition to the more familiar cinematographic borrowings of Orson Welles, \”Citizen Kane\” and \”Night of the Hunter\”, in particular. As a teen drama in much the same mold as \”West Side Story\”, the finished article is a quiet triumph of superior casting – including Dennis Hopper – and atmosphere over narrative content, retaining the choreographed performance of a stage adaptation within a few nicely observed set pieces. Not so much a straight reworking of \”Romeo and Juliet\” as an epilogue of sorts where all the marginal characters have succumbed to less noble motives or dramatic ends. Concise and defined where \”The Outsiders\” is embarrassingly slight. And hysterical.

Warner Brothers, reluctant to distribute \”The Outsiders\”, passed on \”Rumblefish\” entirely. Paramount Studios, in turn, were shaken by how much the final edit deviated from the commercial norm.

The soundtrack by Stewart Copeland has worn better, maybe, in the quarter of a century since its original release.

Coppola was insistent that the score be experimental in tone. Recording ambient street noise in Tulsa – where both \”The Outsiders\” and its successor were filmed – Copeland later mixed the results over and under a battery of instrumentation, layering sequenced parts in synch with video footage and dialogue with the use of a Musync, the cutting edge of studio technology in the early to mid eighties. Jesus. If I can forgive this film its minor conceits, I am prepared to forgive Stewart Copeland his role in The Police.

Buell Neidlinger: double bass; Art Krahble and Lory Westin: french horn; Mel Martin: saxophone; Pavel Strings: strings; Stan Friedman: trumpet.

STEWART COPELAND: BROTHERS ON WHEELS from \”Rumblefish (Original Soundtrack)\” LP (A&M) 1983 (US)

STEWART COPELAND: FATHER ON THE STAIRS from \”Rumblefish (Original Soundtrack)\” STEWART COPELAND: MOTORBOY\’S FATE from \”Rumblefish (Original Soundtrack)\” LP (A&M) 1983


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