The second of Francis Ford Coppola's films based on the popular juvenile novels of S.E. Hinton (the first being The Outsiders), Rumble Fish split critics into opposite camps: those who admired the film for its heavily stylized indulgence, and those who hated it for the very same reason. Whatever the response, it's clearly the work of a maverick director who isn't afraid to push the limits of his innovative talent. Filmed almost entirely in black and white with an occasional dash of color for symbolic effect, this tale of alienated youth centers on gang leader Rusty James (Matt Dillon) and his band of punk pals. Rusty's got a girlfriend (Diane Lane), an older brother named Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke), and a drunken father (Dennis Hopper) who've all given up trying to straighten him out. He's best at making trouble, and he pursues that skill with an enthusiastic flair that eventually catches up with him. But it's not the whacked-out story here that matters--it's the uninhibited verve of Coppola's visual approach, which includes everything from time-lapse clouds to the kind of smoky streets and alleyways that could only exist in the movies. The supporting cast includes a host of fresh faces who went on to thriving careers, including Nicolas Cage, Christopher Penn, Vincent Spano, Laurence Fishburne, and musician Tom Waits. --Jeff Shannon
You know, if there were gangs around like in the old days, I'd be running things, not you. You'd be second lieutenant. You might have gotten by for a while on the Motorcycle Boy's rep, but you have to be smart to run things. You ain't got your brother's brains. It's nothing personal, Rusty James, but nobody would follow you into a knife fight because you'd get people killed - and nobody wants to be killed.
No, your mother... is not crazy. And neither, contrary to popular belief, is your brother crazy. He's merely miscast in a play. He was born in the wrong era, on the wrong side of the river... With the ability to be able to do anything that he wants to do and... findin' nothin' that he wants to do. I mean nothing.