After his quartet of ’70s masterworks, Francis Ford Coppola hit the ’80s flushed with ambition. But he came up less than trumps with neon flop One From The Heart and a pair of lo-fi SE Hinton adaps that failed to lure the teen crowd, despite starring every thrusting young supernova in Hollywood. Still, Rumble Fish – which, like The Outsiders, hangs out with alienated youth as they gang-fight, booze and shag – has its moments. Coppola discusses his fondness for the film on this two-discer’s wistful chat-track.
Tinged with autobiography, the director’s attempts to make a stylised art film for adolescents results in moody monochrome visuals, Police man Stewart Copeland’s sparse, percussive score and blatant riffs on The Wild One. Radiating charisma, Mickey Rourke’s the Brando-esque Motorcycle Boy, adored older sib of rebel Rusty (Matt Dillon). Other nascent talents on show include Coppola’s then-18-year-old nephew Nicolas Cage.
“Maybe Rumble Fish is pretentious stuff,” muses Coppola. “But I made the film very sincerely.” In that light, you can maybe forgive the heavy-handed symbolism. But as defiantly experimental as it is, Rumble Fish still ends up languishing on the mild side.