Rumble in the Streets (1996)

REVIEWS - Movie Reviews

Everybody in Hollywood is a cynic, of course, so I have a question.

How come, no matter how cynical they are, no matter whether they're producers, directors, actors or grips, no matter how many horrible casting stories they've seen, they still believe-all of them, no exceptions-in the concept of Talent. I mean, some call it talent, some call it genius, some call it acting ability. But they all believe there's some mysterious quality that separates the good actor from the bad one.

So when an actor goes to an audition, and doesn't get the part, they're often crushed because "I KNOW I could do that part. I KNOW I could do it better than anyone else. I KNOW I could do it better than the guy they gave it to."

And the point is, all of that is PROBABLY TRUE. But they gave it to some guy they had heard of, because they think by putting his name on the video box, they can sell more copies, even though the last hit he made was in 1981 and so he's "just a name" but maybe it'll be worth a few bucks. And the fading star may have a drinking problem, and may not even CARE about acting anymore, but it doesn't matter, and the producer doesn't care, because they're not buying his acting, they're buying his name.

There are literally HUNDREDS of examples of this, and yet the frustrated aspiring actor still believes in the idea of "being discovered."

What's even worse, the guy who keeps getting jobs on the basis of an old TV series thinks that he's being hired because of HIS talent.

And the director thinks: "Wow, we got this talented guy. I've HEARD OF HIM."

The fact is, for every great Hollywood part, there are probably 500 actors laboring in university theaters and regional opera companies and community playhouses who could do it BETTER than the star who's actually hired. And I think the audience knows this. What's amazing is that HOLLYWOOD DOESN'T KNOW IT.

I mean, Hollywood HAS to know it, right? Because Hollywood INVENTED it.  But you've still got all these old cynical directors and producers talking about "star quality"-which, let's face it, is half good looks and half good lighting, "performance of a lifetime"-which means the star finally did something different from what she did in her last 10 movies, and "that special magic."

"That special magic" usually means she's 17 years old, gorgeous and willing.

Of all the key players who combine to make a movie-writer, director, cinematographer, sound man, art director, editor, composer-I would put the actors about eighth or ninth in order of importance. And as movies get more sophisticated, and more visual, the actor's role diminishes. It will never diminish on the stage, of course, but in film you can sometimes do the same thing the actor does with animation or effects or old footage. As Robert Mitchum once said, "Rin Tin Tin was the greatest actor Hollywood ever had."

So my question is: Why don't they just cut the crap?

Does anybody know what I'm talking about here?

And speaking of guys who have NEVER been impressed by stars, drive-in king Roger Corman is at it again this week, recycling a script he made seven years ago and making everybody but me think it's a brand-new movie.

Remember "Streets," the minor cult classic starring Christina Applegate as a teen-age runaway heroin-junkie hooker trying to escape a maniac cop? Well, that story made its way back up to the top of the stack as "Rumble in the Streets," but this time Roger hired my buddy Bret McCormick, an ultra-low-budget Fort Worth filmmaker, and Bret did it like a documentary on homeless street kids who live at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Of course, we all know the Fort Worth police would never ALLOW any homeless at the stockyards, because it would scare off all the tourists, but Bret kinda makes it work.

Actually, the box cover says, "The streets of Dallas have been cruel to Tori...." But there's not a single Dallas scene in the whole deal. This is Fort Worth all the way. I guess Roger just couldn't bring himself to say, "The mean, nasty streets of Fort Worth...." Somehow Fort Worth doesn't cut it as a Quentin Tarantino-type location.

Other than changing from El Lay to Fort Worth, thereby throwing in a few cowboy references and having a man ride a steer through two scenes for no reason at all, it's the same dang movie. Kimberly Rowe is the junkie teen hooker who refuses to have sex with anybody she actually likes. David Courtemarche is the singing cowboy who tries to love her. And Patrick DeFazio is the cop who tries to kill her, then kill her again, then kill her again, as he grows progressively uglier from scars and burns on his face, forehead, legs and arms. He's sort of like a uniformed, motorcycle-riding Jason.

This one is actually a little easier to watch than the original. After watching "Streets," you had to go rub the sleaze off your eyelids. This one still has the gross-out heroin-needle scenes, which are a little hard to believe when Kimberly Rowe looks as healthy as a vegetarian clog dancer, but the emotional stuff is done a lot better.

Good work, Bret. Bret has always been the one-man Fort Worth film industry, but I remember the ole boy when he was making monster flicks for 30 bucks in his cellar.

Seven dead bodies. Six breasts.

Attempted rape. Face-clawing.

Dirt clod to the eyes. Bloody Scotch-glass crunching. Hand-slicing. Hand-smashing. Hand-burning. Hand-crushing.

Close-up heroin injections. Little-girl torture. Blood-licking.

Guy executed by gunshot in a place where...naw, we're just not going into it.

Leg-stabbing. Flaming cop.

One motor vehicle chase, with crash. One mugging. Aardvarking. Electrocution.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for...

Peggy Ann Mitchell, for writing and singing the main theme song, "She Tries To Fly," a great song in a genre that usually thrives on bad songs.

Kimberly Rowe, as the teen hooker who says, "I keep thinking I know you from somewhere-I always remember the guys on bikes" and "I don't do that much heroin-just enough to get straight."

Mike Nicol, as the scruffy, wisecracking drug connection who says, "My name's Bob, but I spell it backwards."

Randy Rostetter, for riding around on a Longhorn steer for no reason.

David Courtemarche, as the lovestruck homeless singing cowboy.

Patrick DeFazio, as the sick, perverted, twisted street cop.

And Bret McCormick, the director, co-writer and producer, for doing things the drive-in way.

Three and a half stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.