Greetings from the Odinson,
Last weekend, the Odinson went into the archives and pulled out a cult classic – Streets of Fire: A Rock-n-Roll Fable. This 1984 noir action/adventure is the right kind of good on so many levels. Not only is it popcorn entertainment at its best, not only does it have a fist-pumping soundtrack, but its cast may be the single greatest convergence of pop culture icons in the history of cinema.
The story goes like this. In a time period ambiguously set around the 1950s, Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) is the biggest pop star in the land. She returns to her hometown to perform a rock show. That’s when a biker gang, the Bombers, led by Raven (Willem DaFoe), attacks the concert and kidnaps Aim. Local diner operator, Reva Cody (Deborah van Valkenburgh), who witnesses the whole crime, contacts her estranged brother, Tom Cody (Michael Pare), a military vet with a troubled past and a romantic history with Aim, to come to his ex-girlfriend’s rescue.
Aim’s manager, Billy Fish (Rick Moranis), hires Cody for the job. A surly Army vet named McCoy (Amy Madigan) tags along as Cody’s driver and second. The makeshift team of heroes invades the Battery, the home turf of the Bombers, and raids the bar Torchie’s, the Bombers’ HQ, and take Aim back by force. Not willing to let this slight go, Raven and the Bombers force a showdown where Cody and Raven duel wielding sledgehammers for the fate of Aim as the Bombers and local citizens watch.
Now if you’re asking yourself what does any of this have to do with comic books or pop culture, allow me to explain.
Michael Pare (Tom Cody) who played in another cult classic, Eddie in the Cruisers, you may also recognize from his roles as Tony Villicana in The Greatest American Hero and his recurring appearances in the BloodRayne movie series. The eternally beautiful Diane Lane (Ellen Aim) along with her many, many other roles has portrayed Judge Hershey opposite Sylvester Stalone in Judge Dredd, and she will play Ma Kent in the Man of Steel. She has also been married to both Christopher Lambert (Tarzan of the Apes, Highlander) and Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex, Men in Black III).
Then there is Rick Moranis (Billy Fish) who, of course, is very well known for his memorable role as Louis in the classic film Ghostbusters. But his pop culture cred doesn’t stop there. He’s also provided memorable roles in Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and played Barney Rubble The Flintstones.
You may recognize Amy Madigan (McCoy) from her role as Marilyn Dunham on Fringe. She is married to Ed Harris who is an actor seen in Creepshow, The Abyss, and The Stand. Then there is Willem Defoe (Raven) who you may recognize under all that make-up if you look really close as Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire. He was, of course, Norman Osborn in Spider-Man. And, he has done voice acting for John Carter, The Simpsons, and Family Guy. And, Deborah Van Valkenburgh (Reva) you may remember from her roles in episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Quantum Leap. But I remember her from the cult classic gang drama The Warriors.
NOTE: Here’s a bit of trivia – Defoe was actually a finalist to play the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie, a role that went to Jack Nicholson.
But the pop culture fun doesn’t stop there. Richard Lawson (Officer Price) has had roles in Scream Blacula Scream, Poltergeist, and V. Rick Rossovich (Officer Cooley) was the ill-fated boyfriend in The Terminator and the cocky Slider in Top Gun. Robert Townsend (Lester) is known for his comedy writing and his role in the superhero spoof Meteor Man. Grand L. Bush (Reggie) you may recognize from his roles as Special Agent Johnson in Die Hard and Balrog in Street Fighter.
Rounding out our amazing cast of pop culture icons is Elizabeth Daily (Baby Doll) who some of you may recognize as a voice actor from the animated shows Rugrats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The New Batman Adventures, and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. But she is probably best known as the voice of Buttercup in The Powerpuff Girls. Lynne Thigpen (Subway car Driver) is the iconic voice of the DJ in The Warriors. And, the prolific character actor Ed Begley, Jr. (Ben Gunn) has not only had parts in Battlestar Galactica, This is Spinal Tap, and Batman Forever, but he has also done voice acting for Batman Beyond, Static Shock, and he was the voice of Charlie Collins in the Joker’s Favor, one of the all time greatest episodes from Batman: The Animated Series.
And finally there is the great Bill Paxton (Clyde). Not only does he steal every scene he has in Streets of Fire, but his resume is a laundry list of cult and pop culture classics. He has memorable roles in The Terminator, Weird Science, Commando, Predator 2, True Lies, Twister, Titanic, Thunderbirds, and the upcoming 2 Guns. But nothing compares to his legendary performance as the foul-mouthed, ill-equipped to handle a high-stress pressure situation Colonial Space Marine Hudson in Aliens. “Game over, man, game over!”
So there you have it - Streets of Fire: A Rock-n-Roll Fable – it is Sin City meets Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and if you get the chance to check it out, it comes with the Odinson’s highest recommendation.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell