Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Script review – “Streets of Fire, Second Draft” (1983) by Walter Hill and Larry Gross

The full title is “The Adventures of Tom Cody, Book One: Streets of Fire” – Hill was clearly hoping for a franchise (the ending indicates two sequels, “The Far City” and “Cody’s Return”), but the disappointing box office response of this meant there were none.
There’s nothing quite like this film, a rock and roll fantasy, as it proclaims itself – the opening page says it takes place “in the Other World, a far off place where Genres collide – in this case, Futuristic Fantasy meets the Western, gets married and has rock and roll babies. And, in a rather special way, it’s meant to be comedy.” It also had a big budget and no stars; Hill only managed to get it up off the back of his massive success with 48 Hours.
The script starts off with pictures of a rotting town, Richmond, and narration from Reba about how tough things are. This has a flowery tone to it – did Gross write it? It's in contrast to the big print, which is done in Hill’s patented, sparse style. Reba goes on explaining about Ellen, and Raven – and it’s all stuff that pictures would show. Raven doesn’t abduct Ellen until the second song finishes but then the script pretty much follows the film, the big difference being the film has lots of dialogue which has been trimmed. (There are plenty of omitted scenes too – I wonder if some of them fleshed out what Cody was doing before he came back to town.) This must be a later draft since McCoy has been changed into a woman, something I understand didn’t happen until the casting process.
The script doesn’t shed any more light on the point of having the Baby Doll character. It does have Billy refer to the Sorels as “boogies” – Hill’s scripts always have racist characters in them. Some other differences – there’s a specific reference in the script to Ellen singing “Streets of Fire” at the end, which didn’t happen; Cody gives Ellen a quick, abrupt kiss here instead of the romantic, passionate one in the film.
A random notes – when Cod and Raven are fighting with fists, Greer throws Raven a sledgehammer and implores him to use it - but in a mirror image of Cody tossing aside the sledgehammer, Raven doesn’t (it’s like in Hard Times).


Publicist for Billy Fish said...

It has been said that Billy Fish is dumb. And, short. Real short. However, the filthy bum who said those things about the diminutive music industry executive was only half right. Living by his wits, Billy Fish survived growing up in The Battery and its mean streets to flourish into an A&R extraordinaire and arguably the best in the biz when it comes to Artist Management – though he does let himself get talked into some dumb benefit shows from time to time. Main thing you need to know is, Billy Fish is not gonna pay any jerks – and don’t call him a shithead when he expresses unwillingness to do so.

Fish gets irked when the acts he represents have to appear in The Richmond as none of the locals have a pot to piss in. He’s got a point; even after a violent biker gang kidnapped Ellen Aim, kicked the shit out of her entire band (disingenuously named ‘The Attack,’) then assaulted everyone in sight – even going so far as to tie a chain to the ankle of one of the poor saps and drag him behind his motorcycle – the town held firm to its two member-only police force (the two members, who, during the kidnapping, managed only to flip over their squad car.)

Now THAT’S dumb. And short…short-sighted. Or unfathomably cheap. At the very least, utilize Trudy’s law enforcement experience from Miami Vice instead of letting her languish at a dead-end waitress job in Reva’s diner. Does this The Richmond even have a Mayor? If there was ever a town that needed a militarized police force, this was it. It’s the shits. Based on how The Bombers overtook the place in seconds flat, any marginally broad-shouldered thug clad in leather overalls with a few biker buddies might start thinking that he can ride into town and kidnap any starlet he wants: Ellen Aim… and… well, we don’t know at this time if any other singing stars emerged from The Richmond or even the existence of non-singing pretty girls, who, tend to excite Raven Shaddock when he is around them. But the Righteous Apples chick (you know, the Ellen Aim groupie with the big bazoongas?) SHE had potential.

Billy Fish does things for Ellen Aim. Things that a guy like you could never do. Things that matter in the real world. So make it fast, his time is valuable. He buys and sells people more valuable than Amy Madigan, daily. And with the proceeds, he’s not paying you to add any extra thrills to his life or for any of your so-called brilliant ideas. And don’t think he’s gotta be a genius to know what you're going for. Do a little more work for him, when you get a taste of what that money'll bring you, THEN you'll realize he’s the one with the brains around here. And you'll start treating him a bit nicer. Remember, Billy Fish handles the management and the booking. Now, you guys just shut up and leave Ellen Aim alone. As for any one-on-one interviews, look, knock it off, he’s not interested in conversation, okay, moron?

Bob Aldrich said...

It's always a pleasure to hear from such a fan of the film (and Billy Fish)