My personal favorite film: ‘Rumble Fish;’ read my ode to Coppola’s underrated masterpiece in AFI


MoC_RUMBLE_FISH_300dpi_Press1 (Large)Whenever I am asked what my favorite movie is, I declare, from the gut, without hesitation: 1983’s Rumble Fish, by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke playing two brothers trying to connect in a world of hurt both physical and emotional. Forget art film (though Rumble Fish was shot in artsy black and white, with a few key bits in color), classics and hype on critics lists and the AFI’s list … but, wait a second… the AFI actually just gave me the platform to espouse on the greatness of this film to their readers… jump through their logo below to read my essay/review:

AFI_logoAs much as I do love the art films, this is easily a favorite for quite personal reasons, and so I argue in the piece linked above. I have no problem noting my all-time favorite film because I had such a personal relationship with this movie during some important formative years. It also helps that the film indeed holds up as one of Coppola’s great works.

Score composer Stewart Copeland in video for film's closing title song "Don't Box Me." Image courtesy
Score composer Stewart Copeland in the video for the film’s closing title song “Don’t Box Me.” Image courtesy

Among its many merits, it features Police drummer Stewart Copeland’s first and best soundtrack, the film’s odd, exaggerated camera angles, whimsical mood-shifting edits, luscious monochromatic black and white images, Diane Lane looking gorgeous and enigmatic. All the performances are expressive and slightly odd (Dennis Hopper, Chris PennLaurence FishburneTom Waits, Nicolas Cage and a pre-teen Sofia Coppola are also in it, bringing their own idiosyncratic performances to the mix). When it appeared at the Miami International Film Festival a few years ago as part of a retrospective on Coppola on 35mm I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Here’s the current official trailer, the build up to a rumble between gangs that features an amazing appearance of the rival gang as a train blows past:

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2013 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)


  1. The first time I’ve seen someone else rate this as their favourite film of all time, I think it was the affect it had on me the first time i saw it.It must have been mid 80’s and it was on late night british tv back to back with the outsiders, i watched it on my tiny black and white tv with the headphones on as i didnt want to wake my mum,it blew me away as a young teen and has stayed with me ever since, much like Repo Man its charm and style grabs you from the first scene to the very end

    • That must have been interesting to see it like that! Did you know the film was in black and white but with bits of color?


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