Review of The Lords of Flatbush (1974)

22 Apr

The Lords of Flatbush (1974) also known as The Lord’s of Flatbush (1974) is a low-budget drama/romance/comedy film about a street gang in Brooklyn.

Directed by Martin Davidson (Looking for an Echo (2000), Hero at Large (1980)) and Stephen Verona (Pipe Dreams (1976), Talking Walls (1987)).

Written by Stephen Verona (Boardwalk (1979)), Gayle Gleckler, Martin Davidson (If Ever I See You Again (1978)) and Sylvester Stallone.

Starring: Perry King, Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler, Paul Mace, Susan Blakely, Maria Smith and others.

Of course my main reason for watching this film was that it’s one of Sylvester Stallone’s earliest roles, two years before his big break with my favourite movie of all time – Rocky.

The movie, I suppose, is set sometime in the late 1950’s as Stallone is a member of a small gang, consisting of four greasers in leather jackets, slicked back hair and low intelligence. And they’re all going to school together, even though none of them look like they’ve been high schoolers for the last 10 years. One of the gang members is played by Henry Winkler, who went on to play his most well-known role as another 50’s greaseball in the sitcom Happy Days.

The soundtrack is really good, which is remarkable, because getting rights probably wasn’t so easy, considering the film’s budget. Although in one scene they really fucked up and put a song with lyrics under a dialogue, so I couldn’t make out what the characters were saying.

Sly looks already really beefy in this, even before Death Race 2000, so I guess he didn’t have to put on much weight for Rocky.

The style is well done, although it has more of a 70’s low-budget movie feel, which contradicts my perception of 50’s. One chick wears hair rolls for most of the movie, I wonder if that was considered cool back then? I’m not a car guy, but there are some beautiful cars.

Interestingly there doesn’t seem to be a lead here, the four guys have more or less equal parts. They each have their own fairly interesting troubles, one is talented and smart, but is wasting his time, another can’t choose between girls and dreams of going away after school, another one is getting married and the fourth one I don’t even remember. But what they all share is being not very likable, they are a bunch of insecure jerks, hiding behind their macho facades, bullying people around them. This for me made it hard to identify with any of them.

The movie has a lot of flaws, but as far as the performances go, they are pretty decent, Sly shows some of his acting chops in a weird scene on a roof, by his character’s pigeon coop.

They try to make the dialogue realistic, but it just comes across as clumsy, when a lot of times it consists of the characters not saying things and just silently fidgeting. Yes, often teenagers do act this way, but it isn’t very entertaining to watch.

It really seems to suffer from it’s low-budget, I think it was supposed to be a fun coming of age flick like American Graffiti, but at times it’s depressing and painfully dull.

Overall, it is an odd coming of age film, that’s not very entertaining, has a nice, satisfying and uplifting ending, but it isn’t really earned. Mostly not a good movie, not recommended, unless you’re really interested in early Stallone’s work.

"Lord's of Flatbush? What? It doesn't make sense!"
"Oh, yeah we got another symbol for free, we weren't going to waste it!"

3 Responses to “Review of The Lords of Flatbush (1974)”

  1. Aloha Mister Hand April 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Funny, this doesn’t look like Dirty Harry to me…haha, kidding. I’ve never heard of this movie! The way you described it, I can see why. Henry Winkler, I swear. He is the ultimate greaser….crazy! Nice post! 🙂

    • karlails April 22, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

      Thanks, oh yeah, well, Harry is still coming up, I just wanted to do this, because I wanted to have something between the franchises. I bet I don’t know anyone who has seen this movie.

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