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I love "The Lords of Flatbush"


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#1 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 09:24 PM

I saw "The Lords of Flatbush" in a theater when I was a teenager and I loved it. I was already
into film and shooting lots of Super 8. I looked up everything I could about the movie and was
impressed
at how the filmmakers shot it in 16 mm., had to stop for about half a year or so and then resume
when they had more money to finish. It has some great scenes, great lines, a great soundtrack
that was made up as era style songs, most likely because they never could have afforded to
license actual period songs. They did get a "From Here to Eternity" clip in there but maybe music
cost more, especially after the "American Graffitti" soundtrack sold a zillion copies and people
caught on (George Lucas is a sharp guy.)


Anyway, here are two reviews for the movie that I came across and I'd like to offer some comments
below.


From: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071772/

Author: jmorrison-2 from Farmington Hills, MI

"A good, decent film about leaving adolescence behind, and the threshold to adulthood.

Sylvester Stallone is very good as Stanley, the pug of the gang, who is facing fatherhood and marriage, and tries to amiably go along. He's not too bright, but he understands there is much more out there. His scene on the roof with Perry King is his way of trying to communicate that the world they have been living in is coming to an end, but, through their dreams and imagination, they can go places and experience other things. Things are changing for him, and he instinctively realizes there is much more to the world than their little corner of Brooklyn.

Perry King's Chico, on the other hand, is brighter than he lets on, and he understands all too well what is out there and is waiting for them. The trouble is, in the adult world, he will never again have the freedom and power that he has running the streets with the Lords. Growing up is not something he looks forward to. He resents what he sees as the end of the road. He wouldn't mind living out the rest of his life with the Lords, prowling the streets, knocking up girls, fighting with the clean cut kids. In this world, he is powerful and respected, but he senses it coming to an end. His argument on the roof with Stanley is his rejection of dreaming or imagining something, or somewhere, else. His unfortunate episode with Susan Blakely is his inability to relate to her as another human being. To him, she is still just a chick to be laid, not someone he may have to relate to. Everyone around him is growing up and passing him by, and Chico resents it. He basically wants things to stay just as they are.

The final rumble at the football field is an example of the Lords in their element, when they are at their happiest. The aftermath of the fight (the accident) is a further reminder that this life is at an end, and adulthood awaits, whether they are ready for it or not.

A decent, entertaining movie. Quite an interesting character study, well-acted, especially by King and Stallone."


This guy totally gets the movie and how somebody (Chico) who might seem
shallow is actually wrestling with some deeper issues than he
reveals.

" His argument on the roof with Stanley is his rejection of dreaming or imagining
something, or somewhere, else."

This reviewer's insight, that Chico rejects having a bigger world view because of his fears
of a bigger world, is stunning pyschological acumen and
is much more interesting and dramatic than the next reviewer's dismassal of Chico
as a dummy.


next reviewer:




from: http://dvdmg.com/lordsofflatbush.shtml

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

DVD

Mr. Jacobson's entire review is copied below but let me comment on this:

" Our main lead, Perry King's Chico, is the worst of the bunch for two reasons. First, he
occupies the most screen time but we never see any sort of character development or nuance;"



There actually is quite a bit of nuance and it's so incredibly subtle but there that that's
why it's a great performance and thus Chico's refusal to change coupled with the
realization that his days are therfore numbered is what makes it so powerful and what the
above reviewer points out. Chico has developed; he realizes his situation. That is a
development. He fails to take positive steps based on his new understanding and that costs
him but that's his choice and that's his story.

Also, it seems to me that stories are quite often about the differences between those who do
change and those who do not. Look at what becomes of Steve Bolander and Kurt Henderson
in "American Graffitti" (A GREAT movie) as they choose their post high school paths.

I haven't seen the movie in a while (have a VHS copy I taped off of t.v.) but when I saw
it in the theater, I was seeing movies five nights a week at the second run theater in the
next town. I didn't know anything about 16 mm blow-ups to 35 mm back then but despite
what Mr.Jacobson says about the soft picture and in in his opinion poor production values,
the film always worked for me and I had plenty of smooth grained A Hollywood pictures
(seen in the same big old theater with a big screen) with which to compare it.

The production values in this discussion are kind of like the threads on here in which people
debate numbers of pixels and all sorts of things and finally somebody posts 'Just get the best
camera you can get and go shoot your story!'

There are classic scenes in this film. Check out what happens in the jewelry store involving
Stanley's girlfriend and a ring. No Technocranes, no special effects, probably wooden sticks
with splinters but ...

Yes, I know that all the 'teenagers' in this film are close to their late twenties, maybe into
their thirties when they finally finished shooting but for my final scene in my first acting class
I transcribed the roof scene and did that with a classmate on the third tier of the rolling
scaffolding in my university's theater (which kind of surprised everybody because we did
this short film scene which started with me riding my smuggled motorcycle in from off stage
and climbing the tower while "Stanley" smoked, as compared to everybody else doing
classic scenes from classic plays but it was so great to say those lines.)

So, yeah in " The Lords of Flatbush" the leads are miscast
age wise but it works. Look at Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss in "American Grafiiti".
Ron Howard looks like he just got out of high school because that's how old he actually was
whereas Richard Dreyfuss was twenty-four (and Cindy Williams twenty-five etc.) yet they're
all terrific as 'teenagers'.

Anyway, I guess that I want to say don't let a bad review kill you. There are a lot of valid
stories with grain and challenging location sound that are still way superior to some of the
most expensive A pictures and some professional critics never have the wisdom of some
far lesser known soul like the one above who chimed in to IMDB with his or her opinion and
scored like a cinematic Solomon.

Oh yeah, don't you just love this: "The Lords Of Flatbush isn't a terrible movie but it seems
overly derivative"

Of what is it derivative? Critics love to say things like "derivative" but how fair is that, especially
as a throwaway line at the end of a review with no examples or substantiation?

That's about as far as a judge in a murder trial saying to the jury "Well I don't know but this
guy looks like a killer."



Columbia-TriStar, widescreen 1.85:1/16x9, standard 1.33:1, languages: English Digital Mono [CC], subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, double side-single layer, 28 chapters, Production Notes, Theatrical Trailers, Talent Files, rated PG, 84 min., $24.95, street date 4/25/2000.

Studio Line

Directed by Martin Davidson and Stephen F. Verona. Starring Perry King, Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler, Susan Blakely, Pual Mace, Renee Paris, Maria Smith.

Clad in blue jeans, black leather jackets and bad attitudes, Stanley (Stallone), Butchey (Winkler), Chico (Perry King) and Wimpy (Paul Mace) are a 1950s Brooklyn "gang" of four cool, sexy rebels. Despite their tough appearance, these boys just want to have fun, but reality -- a.k.a. adulthood -- rears its ugly head when Stanley's steady informs him they have to get married, and blue-collar Chico falls for a beautiful blond (Susan Blakely) from the right side of the tracks. A high-octane cruise down memory lane, The Lords Of Flatbush is "immensely appealing, often hilarious, surprisingly touching and superbly acted" (The Hollywood Reporter).

Picture/Sound/Extras (D+/D+/D)

Although American Graffiti remains the most obvious inspiration for the hit TV show Happy Days, it may not have been the only one, as will become readily apparent to anyone who gazes upon the cover of DVD edition of 1974's The Lords Of Flatbush. Right there in the middle of a group photo is what appears to be one Arthur Fonzarelli, aka the legendary Fonzie.

Or maybe not. Actually, the picture displays the much-less-legendary Butchey Weinstein, a character who looks exactly like the Fonz, although he fails to live up to the more famous persona's coolness. He also failed to create quite the same stir as actor Henry Winkler's better known role. Anyone else remember the Fonzie-mania that occurred in the mid-Seventies? I was a kid at the time, and I still remember how excited I was to get a Fonzie doll - it even had hinged thumbs that could raise!

Anyway, as much as I'd like to follow my thesis that TLOF eventually inspired Happy Days to feature the Fonz, a quick check of dates makes the situation much less clear. Winkler apparently was cast as Fonzie back in October 1973 and Happy Days hit the air in January 1974. It's unclear when TLOF was filmed, but it wasn't released until May 1974. As such, it's possible that TLOF may have been shot prior to Winkler's acquisition of the Fonzie part and that the producers of Happy Days were aware of his work in the film, but it seems unlikely; indeed, it's even possible that Winkler got the role of Butchey due to his work on TV.

Whatever the case, TLOF has remained a better known film than it otherwise might because of this connection, plus the presence of another soon-to-be-famous actor in the cast, a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone. Although Winkler's Butchey mainly just looks like the Fonz with his leather jacket and ducktail, Stallone's Stanley seems like a tougher version of Rocky, though by the end of the film, the parallels are greater.

Stanley shares one distinction in TLOF: he's the closest thing to a full-blooded character the film possesses, and he's the only one who shows any actual growth. (When was the last time you heard that about a part played by Stallone?) Unfortunately, that's more of a reflection on the bland quality of this movie than it is an indication of any strong writing or acting; TLOF comes across as a dirtier - and much less compelling - version of American Graffiti.

Actually, the movie also shares a lot in common with 1971's Last Picture Show. Both took the period locations of the Fifties and imbued them with a much more graphic nature than we saw in the sweetly innocent AG. That worked well in TLPS but doesn't do much here; ultimately TLOF seems like little more than a half-rate combination of those two (much better) movies.

The film simply has little of interest. The characters are generally flat and uncompelling. Our main lead, Perry King's Chico, is the worst of the bunch for two reasons. First, he occupies the most screen time but we never see any sort of character development or nuance; he's just a handsome lunk out to get laid. Second, King seems inappropriate for the role. The other three actors in the Lords Of Flatbush gang (Paul Mace rounds out the quartet as Wimpy) all look like thugs to some degree, but King would seem more at home as the star quarterback; not for a second did I believe him as a juvenile delinquent type, and King lacks the acting chops to make it work.

Not much happens in the movie, which isn't necessarily a flaw as long as the characters work and the writing's crisp. Since neither are the case in TLOF, the general lack of plot hampers the film to a strong degree. It just kind of plods along with no real reason for being; it's just there. Ultimately, the movie seems mildly interesting as a curiosity due to the cast, but does little to sustain the viewer's attention even across its brief 84 minute running time.

The Lords Of Flatbush appears in both its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the letterboxed image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the widescreen version was reviewed for this article. Though not atrocious, The Lords of Flatbush offers an awfully ugly picture.

Sharpness is the main problem here, but not the only one. This is a tremendously soft image for the most part. Every once in a while a scene looks fairly crisp, but these instances are all too rare; most of the movie seems fuzzy and unfocussed. Well, at least this prevented any jagged edges or moiré effects! The print itself seemed fairly clean; I noticed periodic grain and white speckles plus a few small scratches, but it appears to have help up pretty well over the years.

Colors are decent though somewhat pale and faded; I felt they looked okay, though I think they would have seemed less satisfactory were it not for the image's softness. Black levels are fairly good, and shadow detail is decent but unspectacular. I've seen worse-looking DVDs, but not too many (thankfully).

Equally weak is the film's monaural soundtrack. It's pretty obvious that virtually all of the dialogue and effects were recorded on the set, and recorded poorly, as neither sounds even mediocre. Speech suffers the worst, as it's thin, flat and possesses a very distant quality; I had so much trouble understanding dialogue that I left the subtitles on throughout the movie. The effects fare better just because they're less important; they seem subdued and distant as well, however. The movie's rather poor songs obviously weren't recorded on the set, and they sound pretty decent; the music lacks bass but appears clean. Some background noise can be heard at times during the film. Ultimately, the soundtrack fails simply because it makes listening to the movie a chore.

At this point, I'd like to address one factor that may be on your mind: the budget of TLOF. It's clear this thing cost about $7 to make, so some may feel I'm being too hard on the quality of the sound and picture; that line of reasoning may believe that the film has enough of a disadvantage due to its age, so the added problem of a very low budget intensifies the difficulty in making it presentable.

And one would have a point. I don't think the poor quality of TLOF seems to be the fault of the folks at Columbia-Tristar (CTS) who transferred the movie. Instead, it's pretty likely that the thing always looked bad; cheap film stock and an inexperienced crew almost inevitably lead to an ugly movie.

Nonetheless, when I review DVDs, I feel it's more important for my grades to offer an overall indication of the quality one can expect from the disc. As such, there may be very good reasons why a movie can look or sound no better than a "D", but to "be nice" and give it a higher grade because of those factors creates a misleading impression. I grade audio on a curve based on age - which is another indication of how bad this film sounds - but still have to stick to some generally absolute standards when I assign letter grades. So fair or not, TLOF gets its "D+"s.

It earns its "D" for supplements much more clearly, as the DVD includes a pretty weak assortment of extras. We get the film's laughably bad trailer - which creates a faux doo-wop song to sell the movie - plus previews for Bugsy and La Bamba. The usual uninformative CTS talent files appear for actors King, Stallone and Winkler plus director Stephen Verona. Finally, some brief but decent production notes can be found in the DVD's booklet.

The lack of supplements is unfortunate if just because it might have lent some interest to this package. On its own, however, the film isn't enough to sustain attention. The Lords Of Flatbush isn't a terrible movie but it seems overly derivative and lacks much to compel the viewer. Add to that a DVD with poor picture, sound and supplements and you have a disc that should be skipped.

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#2 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 03:17 AM

Yeah, I loved that movie too. B)
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#3 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 06:02 AM

Yeah, I loved that movie too. B)




"When you're a Lord, Lord, Lord,..."
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#4 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 02:30 PM

Sharpness is the main problem here, but not the only one. This is a tremendously soft image for the most part. Every once in a while a scene looks fairly crisp, but these instances are all too rare; most of the movie seems fuzzy and unfocussed. Well, at least this prevented any jagged edges or moiré effects! The print itself seemed fairly clean; I noticed periodic grain and white speckles plus a few small scratches, but it appears to have help up pretty well over the years.


I don't think the poor quality of TLOF seems to be the fault of the folks at Columbia-Tristar (CTS) who transferred the movie. Instead, it's pretty likely that the thing always looked bad; cheap film stock and an inexperienced crew almost inevitably lead to an ugly movie.


This is hardly a favorite movie of mine. But I did see it in a theater decades ago and was impressed with the sharpness of the blow up. Not so much the color, that seemed abit washed out with mostly reds and blues; but as far as sharpness it struck me as a fine example of blow up.
I can't recall if I went into it knowing it was a blow up or found out afterwards.
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#5 Dan Goulder

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 02:59 PM

"Leave...the kid...alone."
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Visual Products

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Aerial Filmworks

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Glidecam

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The Slider

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Rig Wheels Passport

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Metropolis Post

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Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

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