Sunday, September 12, 2010

At the drive-in: Streets of Fire

 In the 80’s, singers like Lionel Richie, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson were chart toppers. Pop music was at an all time high, and I Can Dream About You could even be included in that category, but it clearly had a Rock n’ Roll influence. Dan Hartman wrote that song and wanted Hall & Oates to record it. He told Daryl Hall that he had a song that would be a perfect fit for them, but they had just released their latest album, so they couldn’t do anything with it. Hartman, having already a famous disco hit Instant Replay, ended up recording it and releasing an album with the same name. What a lot of people don’t know is that I Can Dream About You helped the film Streets of Fire be what it is today for Rock n’ Roll fans.

Streets of Fire was supposed to be a blockbuster film in 1984, with future movie stars Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, and Amy Madigan. It also starred Michael Paré, in the leading male role, but unfortunately, his acting is the downside of the film. I was in my late teens the first time I saw the movie, and loved it. About five years ago, I bought the DVD and watched it again. Paré’s acting is a bit stiff, to say the least. In part, I think that is due to some of the lines, which are filled with wannabe clichés. I thought Paré had the right looks, the right voice, but something is just off. Maybe they could have used someone like Patrick Swayze or Matt Dillon for the part. But then again, if another actor had played the leading role, maybe the film wouldn’t have the cult status it has today. Anyway, the memorable acting was left for Willem Dafoe. He just oozes mean through his pores. He plays the part of Raven, leader of the motorcycle gang called Bombers. During a homecoming show of the now famous singer (19-year-old Diane Lane), Raven kidnaps her. Her ex-boyfriend and former bad boy (Paré) is called upon to come back to town and get her back.

Elizabeth Daily, Diane Lane, and Rick Moranis
Willem Dafoe
Diane Lane as Ellen Aim

Streets of Fire has a mysterious feel to it from the start. The action is divided in two places, the Battery and “the Richmond”, and you can’t really put a finger on the year it takes place. The looks of the cars, store signs, and most of the clothes are clearly 50’s. But when you listen to some of the songs, you know the makers of this film didn’t want a 100% oldies atmosphere.
It failed to be a box office hit, but the songs of the film had a great part in making it a home movie success. I for one, never seen it in a movie theater. The first time I saw it was at a friend’s “movie night” get together. A lot of songs were contemporary of the 80’s pop/rock. It stats off with an uptempo Nowhere Fast, which was a hit on radios and gyms at the time, and rolls along with Ry Cooder, the great Rockabilly band The Blasters, and more contemporary rock. The best track for the Doo Wop fan is Countdown to Love, recorded by Greg Phillinganes, and acted out by the fictitious group The Sorels. But for me, the climax of Streets of Fire is when The Sorels sing I Can Dream About You (recorded by Winston Ford for the movie), blending 50’s and 80’s dance moves. That’s when I got hooked on the film. “No more timing each tear that falls from my eyes, I'm not hiding the remedy to cure this old heart of mine”. Yeah, that’s Streets of Fire.

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