Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Wanderers (1979)

First viewed The Wanderers (1979) when it was shown on cable during the early eighties. This allowed for plentiful viewings as it made the rotation of the channels and I dug the film's fascinating world of American Graffiti (1973) meets The Warriors (1979).

Director Philip Kaufman (Invasion of the Body Snatchers '78,  The Right Stuff  '83,  Henry & June '90, among others) adapted from Richard Price's 1974 novel, an interesting read as well. The film showcases a gang of high schoolers from the North Bronx in 1963 and the multitude of fellow gangs they encounter. The sets and locations are vivid and well shot, reflecting the time period quite effectively. Much like The Warriors (1979) this film showcases an interesting collection of gangs, such as: the Italian Wanderers of the title, the all black Del Bombers, the proto skinheads called the Fordham Baldies, the all Chinese Wongs, and the all Irish Ducky Boys, who are the largest and most violently crazy of the Bronx gangs. Against this backdrop, the main character and lead Wanderer Richie deals with increasing stress from a shotgun marriage with a mobsters daughter.

The casting is impressive. Ken Wahl stars as Richie, in what may be his finest role. Karen Allen plays Nina, a beatnik/hippie who catches Richie's eye and helps open up a world beyond the Bronx to him. Other standouts include: Linda Manz, Toni Kalem, Dolph Sweet, Ken Foree, Alan Rosenberg, and the enormous Erland van Lidth, as Terror, the leader of the Baldies. He followed this role with Stir Crazy (1980), as the unforgettable Grossberger.

If you are curious for a viewing of The Wanderers (1979), both the trailer and feature are presented below...

the trailer

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the feature

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