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The Lords of Flatbush

By Jeff Shannon

When The Lords of Flatbush was released in 1974, Sylvester Stallone was still an unknown actor polishing his screenplay for Rocky, and Henry Winkler was approaching TV superstardom as "Fonzie" in the first season of Happy Days. In this modest, low-budget feature, they play second and third fiddle (respectively) to Perry King, whose respectable career, ironically, would never reach such stratospheric heights. As for their costar and diminutive fourth "Lord of Flatbush," Paul Mace appeared in only one more movie after this (Stallone's Paradise Alley), and was killed in a 1983 traffic accident at the age of 33. Such is the random nature of fame and fate.

The movie itself is noteworthy mostly for the pre-stardom appearances of Stallone and Winkler, and a strong costarring role for that most ubiquitous of Super70s actresses, Susan Blakely. Despite its amateurish style, muddy sound quality, and rambling scenes that have casual appeal but minimal narrative momentum, the movie is blessed with laid-back authenticity, recognizing the value of awkward pauses and jumpy rhythms of conversation. The ensemble of self-named Lords--four leather-clad rebels in 1957 Brooklyn, moving reluctantly toward adulthood--is solidly cast, and even the most familiar scenes (like making out at a drive-in showing From Here to Eternity) ring with engaging truth. Codirector Martin Davidson later covered similar territory in Eddie and the Cruisers, and Barry Levinson transcended this shoestring affair with his 1982 classic Diner, but The Lords of Flatbush stands on its own as an earnest and lightly entertaining drama that boosted its costars to bigger and better things.

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"Let us not forget the origional soundtrack by Joe Brooks who later wrote the blockbuster song "You Light Up My Life." [Editor's note: Good point - no one is on the sidelines with regard to that song, are they?]"




Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Stephen Verona

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler, Paul Mace, Perry King, Susan Blakely

Released: May 1, 1974

Availability: DVD VHS

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