Friday, January 14, 2011

Script review – “The Warriors” (1979) by Walter Hill

Like Hard Times and The Driver, this is done in terse Hill style. It’s another great script from that writer-director’s golden period of 1975-85: fast-paced, vivid, exciting, with decent characters and plenty of thrills.
Fans of the film will be particularly interested by the changes. There’s an opening sequence which takes place in Coney Island – we have a bit of character set up (eg Cleon, the leader of the gang, has a girlfriend). But who really cares about character depth in The Warriors? It was a shame they had to lose the exciting bit where Warriors nervously pass though territory of a gang, Mongols (this was filmed; it was a good cut, it's still a shame).
The script gave a bigger role to Fox, the one who sees Luther shoot Cyrus – he was meant to romance Mercy but the actor who played the part was a pain, so Hill killed him off during the sequence where they’re pursued by the police. He gave the Mercy romance to Swan, which meant the loss of a sequence where he’s captured by a gang of bodybuilders called the Dingos – his escape is a very exciting sequence, and it’s a great moment when he rejoins the gang at the end, but as the Dingoes are these camp gays, it would have been a little yuck.
Other things in the script which weren’t in the final film: Cochise was killed by the Furies in the run through the park sequence; after the final fight with the Punks (the creepy guy on rollerskates is not in the script but the toilet stall, etc is all there), there’s a bit where Cowboy, Mercy, Fox and Rembrandt talk on the train about wanting something better – Fox encourages Rembrandt to make a career out of spray cans as a passport out (this is a slightly naff scene and was a good cut); Vermin is killed by the girl gang. The scene where they meet the kids from the prom is in the script – only with Fox instead of Swan. There’s also a Warrior called Snowball who remains silent until the end – I don’t remember him. (I checked the film credits later on - he was.)
Hill known for tense, terse dialogue but he’s great with flamboyant, eloquent Cyrus. The characters are misogynistic, which makes for uncomfortable reading at times; I know that it’s probably being truthful, but to have Mercy as such a slut with no other female characters… I realise this is PC of me, that’s just my reaction.

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