Francis Ford Coppola’s
Rumble Fish
The Motorcycle Boy Reigns

This was Coppola’s shining moment of the 1980’s.

An art house alternative to 1982’s “The Outsiders”.

Coppola went dark, R Rated, Black and White and gave us Rumble Fish in 1983.

Shooting began weeks after the completion of The Outsiders. The film stars Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, Lawrence Fishburne, Nicholas Cage, Vincent Spano and the late great Christopher Penn.

This is…

Rumble Fish

The cinematography was what inspired me to pick up a camera. Shot by Stephen H. Burum, whose credits include The Outsiders, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way and St. Elmo’s Fire…

He’s a visual mastermind and is in full command of his craft here. He’s given a blank canvas and full creative freedom.

The result is a photographers wet dream.

A sumptuous black and white visual feast from start to finish.

Coppola wouldn’t get back into this kind visual territory until 2009’s beautiful Tetro (where he discovered Alden Ehrenreich…the new young Han Solo).

The Criterion Collection is re-releasing Rumble Fish on Blu-ray on April 24, 2017.

This is a brand new, 4K scan of the original negative, which was supervised by DOP Burum,  and approved by the man, Francis Ford.

Click below for details & to pre-order.

Rumble Fish

In this deeply personal tale of estrangement and reconciliation between two rebellious brothers, set in a dreamlike and timeless Tulsa, Francis Ford Coppola gives mythic dimensions to intimate, painful emotions.

Another indelible aspect of this film, which enhances its brilliance at every turn,  is the movies soundtrack.

Composed by the drummer of the rock group The Police, Stewart Copeland, Coppola wanted the movie to boil over with creative expression, both visually and sonically.

He turned to Copeland after trying to create the score on his own…and a meeting of these two minds helped craft Rumble Fish into the visionary piece of art it is.

Rumble Fish

Rumble Fish, an album by Original Soundtrack on Spotify

I found an interview by Jack Watkins of The Guardian with both Coppola and Copeland, speaking about their process and hopes for the film, linked below.

From that interview, Coppola commented:

“I decided to shoot in black and white because I wanted to make an art film for young people, and black and white gives a quality of poetic realism.

I didn’t just leave it to the script to tell the story…I also used camera angles, lighting and soundtrack to stimulate a young audience into loving the form as much as I did.

I was disappointed when they didn’t rush to see it. But it’s pleasing its appeal has endured.

It was the film I really wanted to make.”

– Francis Ford Coppola on Rumble Fish, 2012

God…I hope he knows it worked, he reached us, I really do.

How we made … Francis Ford Coppola and Stewart Copeland on Rumble Fish

I shot Rumble Fish back-to-back with The Outsiders, in the same location. Both were set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and based on novels by SE Hinton – who has a small part in Rumble Fish as a hooker who approaches Rusty James, the hero, while he’s out walking with his brother.

If you haven’t seen Rumble Fish yet…I don’t emphatically recommend it…

I’m kind of demanding you watch it.

Just saying.

Rumble Fish – Wikipedia

Coppola wrote the screenplay for the film with Hinton on his days off from shooting The Outsiders . He made the films back-to-back, retaining much of the same cast and crew. The film is notable for its avant-garde style with a film noir feel, shot on stark high-contrast black-and-white film, using the spherical cinematographic process with allusions to French New Wave cinema and German Expressionism.

I’ve put together as playlist of videos from the film I found on you tube below…in addition to two interviews from 1982 with Coppola and members of the cast as they shot.

Watching Nic Cage describe his character is…kind of fascinating.

That’s it. Thanks for reading.

Talk Hard.

Leave Your Mark.

Francis Ford Coppola • Rumble Fish |Trailer + Videos:


Rumble Fish Posters, Artwork + Promotional:

Rumble Fish




RUMBLE FISH, Vincent Spano, Matt Dillon, 1983, (c) Universal

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