Rumble Fish – Special Edition
Sound: B- Extras: B Film: B
Continuing his innovative and underappreciated work after
his 1979 masterpiece Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola went from the
ambitious One From The Heart (1982, reviewed elsewhere on this site) to
a pair of distinct and strong adaptations of novels by S.E. Hinton. There was The Outsiders and the less
recognized Rumble Fish, both the same year, the latter of which is the
subject of this review.
In the more serious and stark of the two films, it (by
Coppola’s admission) is the least seen of his films, give or take One From
The Heart. Like One From The
Heart, he has participated in a new Special Edition that is
exceptional and does the film real justice.
Now that we have a video format like DVD that looks like a novel on a
shelf, we will hopefully see more people catching up on great literary
adaptations such as this one. In it,
Matt Dillon is Rusty James, a wild teen whose only real role model has been his
older brother Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke) because his father (Dennis Hopper)
is such a burnout and failure.
This results in being sort of lost, as the start of the
film shows when he is being “called out” to be in a street fight. He is shooting pool and will take a detour
to see his girlfriend (Diane Lane) beforehand, but it is only a break before
the conflict. Throughout, he drifts in
and out of trouble, but his luck in surviving and/or not getting arrested will
not last much longer. Something’s got
to give and it is coming around very quickly.
Dillon never got the credit he deserved as an actor and is
the little-acknowledged king of the last great cycle of honest teen films that
also included important films like Over The Edge, Little Darlings,
My Bodyguard, Coppola’s Outsiders and Liar’s Moon. With Conservatism, Political Correctness and
a general sense of infantilism seeping into filmmaking in the early 1980s, his
importance as an icon has been lost and purposely so, but he (and his brother)
held in there and are fortunately still with us today. As with nearly all Coppola films, the cast
is great and offers some of the best work of their careers. Vincent Spano, Chris Penn, Nicolas Cage,
Sophia Coppola (as Domino) and Diana Scarwid also star.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is shot in
beautiful black and white by the amazing Stephen H. Burum, A.S.C, with only
slight touches of color here and there.
This transfer is from a new print and well transferred one at that. Detail is good, as well as gray scale,
making it one of the best monochrome films on DVD to date. Oh, and that Dean Tavoularis production
design is so good. The new Dolby
Digital 5.1 mix is an upgrade of the old Dolby A-type analog optical theatrical
sound, including the impressive score by Stewart Copeland, drummer at the time
for The Police before the band split and he went on to do a few more film
scores. The sound may be a tad forward
at times, which makes one wish for DTS, because the sound is there for it, but
it plays very well otherwise. The
dialogue shows its age slightly, but not much, thanks to the care Coppola
always takes with sound.
Extras include another winning commentary by Coppola, some
great deleted scenes that should have stayed in the film because they are so good,
the original theatrical trailer, Music Video for Stewart’s Don’t Fence Me In,
featurette on the score and an on location featurette on the making of the film
including the new electronic and video technologies he was using at the
time. Those alone are a must for any
serious film person or filmmaker, but Rumble Fish is a true gem and this
DVD finally brings it some justice.
- Nicholas Sheffo