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  Streets of Fire
Walter Hill, USA, 1984
Rating: 4.0

Posted: December 18, 2002

There are certain films that you'd never admit to liking in public, and this is one of them. The story's not all that good, and the acting is terrible, but like, say, Miami Vice, it manages to conjure up a style that compels you to watch. Streets of Fire is set in the future. Or maybe it's the past; there's a strong 1950s style to many of the characters -- some look straight out of a Happy Days episode, while others resemble gang members rejected from West Side Story. Still others, like the villain Raven (Willem Dafoe), strut about in what appear to be bib overalls made out of a plastic garbage bag, sporting a hairstyle achieved by super-colliding Bela Lugosi and the lead singer from Flock Of Seagulls. Future or past, the plot, in a nutshell, is this: A gang of bikers have kidnapped the fair Ellen (Diane Lane), and it's up to her dashing ex-boyfriend (Michael Pare) to save her. Now I have to admit, I'll watch anything with Diane Lane in it (I watched this, didn't I?). She is magnificent in every aspect, and if not for that dammed court order keeping me more than 1000 feet from her at all times, I'd ask for her autograph. Michael Pare, on the other hand, walks through the film like Rocky Balboa's younger, slower bother -- let's just say he'll never be confused with John Gielgud, and leave it at that. In some ways, Streets of Fire is like a high school play with a million dollar budget, and yet, for all that, it's not without its charms. It uses a proven formula: girl gets in trouble, guy rescues girl and fights bad guys to save the day. Maybe it's the simplicity that I find appealing. Who knows? In any case, it gets a 4.0. Why? Anything with Diane Lane automatically gets a 3.5. The other .5 comes from Willem Dafoe dressed in a Hefty bag. As Bob Dylan said, "Don't think twice, it's all right."

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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