Alright all you boppers!
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!
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.
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 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.
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…
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
To find out what your favorite Warriors are doing these days check this out Where are they now?