Directed by Walter Hill , USA 1979 (93 mins) in English
An ardent Walter Hill supporter from the very beginning, Pauline Kael called the The Warriors “visual rock”. In 1979, at the time of its release, Paramount kept the critics away from this adaptation of Sol Yurick’s sociologically minded gang novel, released it in the inner cities as an exploitation movie, without a proper ad campaign. When few episodes of violence were reported in front of some theaters, the studio pretty much pulled the film. Over the years, The Warriors has gained not only ample and well-deserved critical praise but real cult status. It is also undisputedly considered one of the best movies about New York.
Shot entirely in the city, mostly outdoors and at night, Hill’s film follows the perilous journey of the Warriors -from a gone bad gang reunion in the Bronx- home to Coney Island. Believed to be responsible for the shooting of Cyrus, a charismatic leader working for gangs’ peace, the Warriors are hunted by rival groups through their 48 miles trip. Working (with david Shaber) on his own typically terse script, Hill was thinking of Senofonte’s Anabasis more than of Yurick’s page: his film would be a Technicolored Greek tragedy, visually inspired by the stylized look of comics books. A prolog (narrated in voice over by Orson Welles) was to establish the action “in a not so distant future”. The studio eliminated that prolog (it has since been restored in the “Director’s Cut”) and -during the Reagan years- The Warriors was often referred to as a realistic portrait of inner cities’ hell. Which is ironic and makes its revisiting very, very timely.