July 4, 1979 in US cinemas: The Wanderers

“It’s 1963…Gangs…Girls…and Rock ‘n’ Roll…”

The _Wanderers-1979The Wanderers is an American comedy-drama film written and directed by Philip Kaufman, starring Ken Wahl, John Friedrich, Karen Allen and Toni Kalem. Set in the Bronx in 1963, the film follows a gang of Italian-American teenagers known as the Wanderers and their ongoing power struggles with rival gangs such as the Del Bombers.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Richard Price; its screenplay was written by Philip Kaufman and his wife Rose. The film had a troubled development stage; after unsuccessfully trying to obtain finance for The Wanderers from Alberto Grimaldi, Kaufman directed other films. After filming the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Kaufman went to New York and successfully pitched The Wanderers to Martin Ransohoff. The film’s budget is unknown, but Kaufman said it was relatively low.

After an advance screening, The Wanderers premiered on July 13, 1979, to mostly positive reviews. The film was a financial success, grossing $23 million at the worldwide box office. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 89%. Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle praised Kaufman’s directing and the performances of Wahl and Tony Ganios.

The film’s increasing popularity and cult status led to The Wanderers being given a theatrical re-release in the U.S. by Warner Bros. in 1996. According to Kaufman, “it took a long time for [the film] to find [an] audience”. [Wikipedia]

Set against the urban jungle of 1963 New York’s gangland subculture, this coming of ageCinema-US-07-04-1979 teenage movie is set around the Italian gang the Wanderers. Slight comedy, slight High School angst and every bit entertaining with its classic 1950’s Rock n’ Roll soundtrack such as “Walk Like a Man”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by The Four Seasons and “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels. Focusing around a football game where the different gangs play with and against each other, then at its grand finale, come together in a mass of union to defend their honour and their turf. Nostalgic stuff and above all a Rock n’ Roll retrospective on a grand musical era. Timeless. [IMDB]

Watch the trailer on the chefducinema YouTube Channel.


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