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The Warriors (1979)

by  |  February 7th, 2011  |  Action/Adventure  |  9 Comments

Candace Valentino & Frank Marshall (Executive Producer of The Warriors) outside the New Beverly Cinema 1/28/11

Alright all you boppers!

The Warriors was presented under The Wright Stuff II program at the New Beverly Cinema and hosted by Edgar Wright who directed ‘Shaun of the Dead’ in 2004.

Very few films come along that build momentum with time. The Warriors made 32 years ago in 1979, it has become such an important piece of pop culture and cinematic history. Having become a series of Comic Books and more recently, a Video Game that reunited the original cast to reprise their roles. The Warriors continues it’s forward momentum. Director Walter Hill has even released his original vision in a Directors Cut DVD. The Warriors has secured it’s place in the hearts of film fans and cult movie aficionado’s of all ages taking it’s place alongside the likes of other cult films like Evil Dead and Night of the Living Dead.

I recently attended a revival of The Warriors at the New Beverly Cinema (one of my favorite movie houses in LA). Also, in attendance for The Warriors was Walter Hill (Director), Frank Marshall (Executive Producer), James Remar (who played Ajax), Lawrence Gordon (Producer) and Joel Weiss (who played Cropsey) a couple of Baseball Furies and 1 Electric Eliminator!

Once A Warrior, Always A Warrior: Walter Hill, Lawrence Gordon, Frank Marshall, James Remar, Joel Weiss and Edgar Wright. photo by Jackson Arcade

 

This was my first time seeing The Warriors in a theater, since I was a bit young when it was first released. But man, I wouldn’t have missed this for anything! I even dragged Candace (who I’ve tried to get to watch The Warriors many times unsuccessfully) and Nathan with me for this one.

I met the director of ‘The Warriors’ Walter Hill on Monday night, during a sold out screening for The Driver (1978). Hill took off after the introduction to have some dinner. Ironically, Nathan and I weren’t able to sit during The Driver, so we just stood in the back. Towards the end, I slipped into the lobby and discovered Hill standing there waiting for the film to finish, before returning for his Q&A. I just so happened to have a warriors movie poster handy, in case of such an event.

Legendary director Walter Hill and Matthew Dowling screening 'The Driver' @ the New Beverly Cinema 1/24/11.

 

I approached Walter Hill, and asked if he would sign my poster. Hill just looked at me and said, “Sure.” We walked over to the concession counter and he asked me, “Do you want Frank (Marshall) to sign it too?” I was like, “Yeah! Of course!” After he calls Frank Marshall over. I asked both of them, “Do you guys have any idea how cool this movie really is?” They look at each other blankly, then turned to me and I kid you not… Walter Hill asks me, “What movie?” He was dead serious. I replied, “The Warriors man! You guys built that one to last!”

It was as if it was the first time anyone had ever said this to them. They looked at each other, then looked at me. Walter Hill smiled, “Thanks.” Frank Marshall, “Yeah, we put that one together really good, huh?” Yes, they really did.

I found out on Wednesday, during a screening for True Romance, that The Driver  was the first time Walter Hill had gone to a revival of any of his films. And that that was the biggest audience he’d seen for The Driver. And since Walter Hill had enjoyed himself, he’d return on Friday night to discuss… The Warriors!

The Warriors played at the New Beverly Cinema 1/28/11

The Warriors is a definitive ‘Chase Film’ from the 70′s filled with grit and bravado. Framed for the murder of Cyrus, a visionary who’s trying to unite the gangs of new york, the Warriors are racing to get back to their home turf. Along the way, they must fight off every cop and gang in New York to get there. A haunting and highly influential film.

Some notes from the Q&A

  • It was Walter Hill, who told the story of an old man who stopped him one day, “Hey, you ah… made that movie, The Warriors right? Good movie. But you made one mistake. Ajax should have made it home with the rest of the guys.” Walter Hill thought on this, and said, “I don’t like to talk about my films, because I want them to stand on their own. But, he was right. That would be the one thing I would change about The Warriors. I would have Ajax get home with the rest of the guys.”
  • It was James Remar who jumped in, crediting Walter Hill, Larry Gordon and Frank Marshall with an emotional and heartfelt thank you. He explained that any career that he’s had, was because of these guys. Remar explained that back then he was, broke, struggling and going hungry for real. The Warriors set him on his path. In response to Walter Hill, Remar sincerely said, “Ajax is right here. Ajax is home.” That moment, I don’t mind sharing here made my own eyes well up.
  • Walter Hill also explained (while reenacting the line with the fingers doing the bottles) that David Patrick Kelly came up with the “Oh Warriors, come out and play-yay!” line. It was based on a bully who used to scare the hell out of Kelly when he was a child, and who would clank bottles together saying, “Oh Da-vid, come out and play-yay.”
  • It was noted by Larry Gordon, that the main reason The Warriors got made was because “Paramount needed a movie for October” and that Paramount thought it was going to be another Staying Alive or perhaps wanted it to be, because on paper the themes looked similar, young, tough troubled New Yorkers, etc. “Sometimes”, Gordon said, “You just get lucky.”
  • Executive Producer, Frank Marshall, recalled the The Warriors production became the very story of the movie they were making. The cast and crew had to make their way across many dangerous and gang infested locations through New York to film, much in the same way The Warriors travel to get to their home turf.

“Ajax is right here. Ajax is home.” -James Remar (Ajax) in response to director Walter Hill

  • The team developed a stall tactic, of not filming the final scene for fear that Paramount would take them over. The Warriors, due to the small budget, fell behind schedule. Mostly because crew would have to go off to eat dinner taking up to 2 hours, since the budget did not include any catering.
  • At one point, it was recommended by Paramount, that the title be changed to ‘Armies of the Night’. But, to Walter Hill’s delight, that name was already copy righted, and couldn’t be used.
  • Remar said, that “only once time did some idiot try to make a trophy out of him because of his part in The Warriors.” But he said it never happened.
  • Remar, also expressed his love for his fellow cast, and the lifelong friendships he built while filming The Warriors. They continued to stay in touch with each other over the years, and have been in each others weddings.
  • To come up with the poster art, Walter Hill had the marketing team take everything they didn’t like and had thrown out, and put all that together to make the poster. The Warriors got pulled after 2 weeks due to violent out breaks in the theater during showings. Star Wars was put in it’s place. Thus, writing history for The Warriors and making it a cult film.

Executive producer of 'The Warriors' Frank Marshall talks with Nathan Strack at the New Beverly Cinema 1/24/11

 

Below is part 1 of The Warriors Q&A video by Robert Lucero, that should get you started.

To date 1/28/11 is the only time Walter Hill has made a public appearance for a revival of The Warriors. He is currently filming. His current project, ST. Vincent is the story of a hitman who poses as a priest, starring Pierce Brosnan and Billy Bob Thornton.

Before the movie started, our host Edgar Wright chose the trailers for  Wild Bill, Judgement Night and Johnny Handsome. to get everyone in the “right mood”.

The music in the trailer is by Tangerine Dream and was composed originally for Sorcerer directed by William Friedkin starring Roy Scheider.

Just for fun, I’m sharing my chase film, ‘The Park Killer’ that I directed back in film school. The ending is a direct homage to Walter Hill and The Warriors! Not of the best quality, but I’m glad it’s survived all these years…

Matthew Dowling and Baseball Fury outside the New Beverly Cinema 1/28/11

Last cool thing, James Remar split and was halfway down the block but ran back just to take a picture with this Baseball Fury who was a fan, I thought that was a classy thing to do. FYI, the Fury had a Warriors vest signed by… everybody.

That’s about it for now! -matt

More films directed by Walter Hill, The Driver (1978) and Streets of Fire (1984).

To find out what your favorite Warriors are doing these days check this out Where are they now?

 

 


About

Matthew Dowling, a native Philadelphian, now residing in Los Angeles, is an actor, writer and film maker. Matt's training with 2nd City, and numerous appearances in TV shows, movies, theater, infomercials, and most importantly... B movies, has prepared him for making B Movie recommendations.

The Italian Job (1969)
Brewster's Millions (1985)
The Aggression Scale (2012)

Comments

  1. Dave B.

    February 8th, 2011at 2:41 AM(#)

    Wow! Sounds like an incredible night!

    THE WARRIORS is a movie I try to watch at least once a year. When I was younger, I loved all the different themed gangs (like a lot of kids, the Baseball Furies were my favorite), and that scene in the park when they’re all together is awesome (CAN..YOU..DIG..IT?). Now, aside from the nostalgic feel I get from watching it, I love how well-paced the film is, and David Patrick Kelly is so VERY good as the heavy. I absolutely HATED him when I was younger, but now can see what a good performance he gives.

    Walter Hill has had a truly remarkable career; despite working across a number of genres, his movies all have a similar feel to them (as if they take place in a gritty world that could only exist in the movies, yet one punctuated from time to time by some disturbing real-life violence). Just going through his IMDB directing credits, one finds HARD TIMES, THE DRIVER, THE WARRIORS, THE LONG RIDERS, SOUTHERN COMFORT, 48 HRS and STREETS OF FIRE, all within a 10-year period!

    After this, I’ve pretty much settled on a Walter Hill movie for tonight, but damned if I can choose which one right now! There’s just too many to pick from.

    Great write-up of what must have been a night you’ll remember forever (were I there, I know I would!).

  2. Josh James

    February 8th, 2011at 9:52 AM(#)

    I was in grad school with Thomas G. Waites, who plays Fox in The Warriors … Waites is a radical dude, I loved him and got along all right, but he did have a tendency to make waves … he got kicked off the film halfway thru (reports on why differ) and that’s why his character gets tossed in front of a train (and it’s a stunt man doing becuz Waites was totally fired by that time) and his credit stripped …

    But he went on to act in a bunch of other films, of course, most notably THE THING, where he played Windows.

    He later stopped acting and went to Iowa to get an MFA in playwrighting, which is where I met him (and acted in a show with him as well). Funny dude, he made me laugh.

  3. Matthew Dowling

    February 8th, 2011at 5:41 PM(#)

    @ Dave B.
    Yeah, definitely a night to remember. It was, as time will prove, a historical occasion. Mainly because Walter Hill “NEVER” goes to these things. But regardless, the possibility of ever getting that group of Warriors together again… I just can’t imagine it.

    Walter has a truly amazing body of work. Which is interesting because he remains so detached from his films. I think mainly because of clashes with studios, leaves a bad taste for him from our conversation, and there for he just forgets about them when he’s done, since he can’t assume full ownership of his creative juju.

    I swear, when I asked him if he knew how good The Warriors was, I will never forget the look on his face… I really don’t think anyone ever really put it like that to him, which is so odd because it’s an amazing film experience. He did say this, that his biggest influences were westerns, so that theme and grit that carries across his film that you mentioned, is his attempt to make contemporary themed westerns. Also, he said this… Don’t explain your characters or what they’re doing because the more you explain, the less interesting it becomes. He wants it to stand on it’s own, rather than to explain it from with in. Very interesting guy actually.

    @Josh James
    Now that makes sense… somebody asked a loaded question about the “actor” who was originally supposed to end up with the chick. And why he was let go half way through. No names were mentioned, in fact it was stated that we won’t get into that, that person is a fine talented actor, and it was so long ago nobody even cares. Pretty classy answer, lol, but I did wonder.

    Interesting that Waites wound up taking the playwright route. Honestly, The Thing could also be on my top 10 list. I think it’s Carpenters masterpiece, although Halloween and Big Trouble in Little China are epic too. Meeting John Carpenter is also on my Bucket List too. Carpenter seems to have gotten a long with him according to the commentaries. But my experience is there’s always a personality conflict somewhere along the line in any production. Usually when it comes up, I disappear real quick for a smoke and get scarce. Those can get ugly, even if they don’t mean anything.

    Ever see those outtakes from David O’Russell and Lilly Tomlin on I Heart Huckabee’s? Wow.

  4. Matthew Dowling

    February 8th, 2011at 5:56 PM(#)

    Last thought…

    I was just thinking about it, when those guys showed up, it was like the Ghostbusters just walked in. Like, “you guys called and we answered”. So casual about it, but not the slightest bit of pretension. Just a solid group of dudes that all had each others backs… not even aware that THEY were the main event. Just happy to be invited to the party and munch on some popcorn. It may have actually been cooler for them to be there than it was for anyone else!? That blew my mind too.

  5. Tweets that mention The Warriors (1979) | AwesomeBMovies.com -- Topsy.com

    February 8th, 2011at 9:38 PM(#)

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matthew Dowling and Matthew Dowling, Matthew Dowling. Matthew Dowling said: Reunion 2011: From someone who was there! "Oh Warriors, come out and play-yay!" #TheWarriors (1979) http://ow.ly/3RXis #CultFilm [...]

  6. Josh James

    February 9th, 2011at 7:58 AM(#)

    What I remember Waites telling me is that he was pissed off because the girl was supposed to be his love interest, and they decided to change it part way thru filming, and Waites was supposed to be an above the title star of the film (he was a major Broadway star at the time, acted with Pacino onstage) and didn’t like the direction it was going, feuded with Hill and got fired / quit.

    that’s what I remember, tho it was awhile ago.

    What I heard from a mutual friend is that the fight was more than verbal, fists were thrown, and as a result he was thrown off the picture and his name wasn’t in the credits anywhere (even on imdb, he’s listed as uncredited) … from what I remember of Tom, fists being thrown wouldn’t surprise me, either.

    He was fiery and tempermental, no doubt … but I always go along with him, when I acted in a play with him, though he did annoy some of the other actors, I just had fun performing with him. And I will say, he’s a damn good actor.

    Interesting tidbit, Steve James (of American Ninja) is one of the Baseball Furies.

  7. nick ireland

    October 30th, 2012at 4:17 AM(#)

    Band I’m in – The Purveyors of Pure Filth has just fonished recording the song Warriors (come out to play). Its an original that I wrote. Its a homage to the movie and it turned out great.

    About to put it on itunes and place the CD with CD baby. In the meantime check us out on CD Baby with out previous release. Can’t wait to get it out there.

    Nick

  8. Z

    February 15th, 2013at 2:04 AM(#)

    One of my all time favourite films, glad to hear others still feel the same

  9. lifestyle designer

    December 8th, 2013at 12:29 AM(#)

    I simply couldn’t go away your web site before suggesting that
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