I mentioned before seeing Streets Of Fire at the drive-in, and having rewatched it again I think it might be the perfect movie for that format. Billed as a “Rock & Roll Fable” the story is equally about the music as it is about plot. It is a shame the movie wasn’t more successful. It’s not exactly a complex story, which doesn’t make it any less fun. Actually, I honestly believe if Kurt Russell were in the lead with this exact script, direction and budget Streets Of Fire would have been a much bigger success.
Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) is kidnapped as she performs a concert in her hometown by biker Raven (Willem Dafoe). Reva (Deborah Van Walkenburgh) who runs the diner calls in her badass brother Tom (Michael Paré) to do the rescuing. Complicating matters is the fact that Tom and Ellen have a history together but Ellen is now with her manager Billy (Rick Moranis). There there is Bill Paxton, Lee Ving, Ed Begly Jr., E.G. Daily, Amy Madigan, and a few other recognizable faces.
Directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hours) who co-wrote the film with Larry Gross, Streets Of Fire is almost one long music video with a paper thin plot – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Streets Of Fire is meant to be a stylized action film with the visuals and music alternately serving as backdrop to the other.
Set during “another time, another place” the city in Streets Of Fire doesn’t have any name (but most of the locations scream Chicago) so it helps to establish that fable feeling. That is probably what most people keep overlooking when reviewing the film. This is a fable, a short story usually told with legendary creatures and imparting some sort of lesson. Other than the lesson, this film does fit into that mold of a fable.
I feel I should mention the film is rated “PG” but if it were to be released today it would most certainly be “PG-13” and possibly “R” for the brief flash of nipple.
You might be familiar with the song “I Can Dream About You” which came from this film. There are a number of big anthemic songs, several written by Jim Steinman. Ry Cooder provided the instrumental soundtrack which is just as effective as the songs the bands perform. Yes, some of the production sounds dated, but the songs are still catchy.
For this edition Shout Factory has placed Streets Of Fire in the Shout Select label, providing the film with a release that longtime fans could never have imagined. There’s a new 2K scan of the film making it look and sound better than ever. Then there is a host of special features all housed on a second disc. This is my one problem with this release. Np special features on the disc with the film itself means no audio commentary and no music only track.
On that second disc things start off with the all-new 100 minute “making of” feature Shotguns And Six Strings featuring a number of interviews with everybody ranging from Walter Hill to Michael Paré to Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin to a bunch of other cast and crew. When talking about the cast we learn about who some of the contenders for various parts. There is a considerable chunk discussing the tarp that covered the Universal back lot. A bunch of discussion takes place surrounding the modes of transportation in the film as well as there the bands perform. We also learn what the film’s direct connection to Flashdance is. The music is touched upon towards the end but not enough for my taste.
Another feature-length documentary is older but no less worthwhile – Rumble On The Lot: Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire Revisited covers some of the same ground but there are some different people interviewed (such as Amy Madigan). A few “vintage” featurettes are included as well and a couple of music videos (“Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young” and “I Can Dream About You”).
Missing are, as I mentioned before, an audio commentary and a music only track for the film, but the other big thing missing, and perhaps it just couldn’t be done, is an expanded version of the soundtrack. It would have been easy to include MP3 versions of the complete film score and soundtrack which would have been really nice for fans. But that’s probably wishing for too much.
As it is Shout Select’s Blu-ray of Streets Of Fire presents the film in a way that fans can certainly cherish and hold high. It is obvious there are other people out there who find the film under-appreciated and hopefully it will continue to have a life as new generations discover this rock & roll fable.