With the opening of Rock Of Ages, I went back through my archives to find a film billed as a rock and roll fable. Here is my review from The Heritage Newspaper from June 20, 1984:
Written by director Walter Hill and Larry Gross, Streets Of Fire is being billed as a rock and roll fable, but underneath its pubescent fifties pop style music and appearance, there is your typical western, with a hero (Michael Pare) and heroine (Diane Lane): Hill's own vision of the future as a dirty and sleazy world in the 1950s where the rain-splattered and smoke-filled streets breathe danger. It is similar in tone to John Carpenter's Escape From New York (1981) and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982).
As in Hill's past movies the plot is simple: Tom Cody (Pare), an ex-soldier, comes home to rescue his old girlfriend Ellen Aim (Lane) who has been kidnapped by Raven (Willem Dafoe), the leader of the Bombers, a rival street gang.
In her first adult role, Lane is totally convincing. Her gorgeous and flamboyant costumes, designed by Marilyn Vance make her a true movie star. Veteran actor Laurence Olivier who worked with her in A Little Romance (1979) called her the next Grace Kelly.
As Cody, Pare is perfectly cast as the hero and like the late Alan Ladd in Shane (1953), he gives a laidback performance. Says Hill in the Universaal press kit: "Michael had the right quality, a striking combination of toughness and innocence." For his part, he wears a leather duster overcoat and suede trousers which helps define his character.
Under Hill's direction, the action is well paced. The cliched plot allows for car chases, motorcycles, and gunfire. By using the iconography of the fifties, Hill's glimpse of the future shows a decadent urban society.
Cinematographer Andrew Laszlo's use of low light underscores the stark and destructive nature of the director's vision. Together with Miss Vance and Giorgio Armani, the cast is dressed in muted colors, such as grays, greens and violets.
The opening and closing numbers were choreographed by Jeffrey Hornaday who also supervised the Souls stage act. Their movements pay homage to such Motown groups as The Four Tops, The Miracles and The Temptations.
The neon lit sequence set in The Strip was handled by production designer John Vallone. Marine Jahan, who was responsible for all the dancing in Flashdance (1983) appears as a stripper in Torchie's, the nightclub where The Bombers hold Aim hostage. It is part of Hill's immoral future.
The ythic western hero that Pare emulates on screen makes Streets Of Fire an entertaining movie. From the first frame to the last, it holds your interest. But what lies underneath the powerful images is more important: It represents an uneasy look at a future time and place.
It is rated AA/Adult Accompaniment, with the warnings: coarse language and violence.
June 20, 1984
Copyright Rick Jackson 1984