Walter Hill directed The Warriors, a 1979 American action crime thriller film. In the United States, it was released in February 1979. After being framed for the murder of a respected gang leader, a fictitious New York City street gang must travel 30 miles from the north end of the Bronx to their home turf in Coney Island in southern Brooklyn. But do you know what the book The Warriors was based on?
The book, The Warriors, is based on Xenophon’s Ancient Greek text Anabasis. The text described Greek mercenaries stranded 1,000 miles behind Persian lines, fighting their way back home.
Are There Real Gang Members in the Movie?
At the time, Paramount was known for its low-budget productions and ability to turn out films on the fly. This meant that the costume department couldn’t afford to dress extras, which was a significant issue for the film’s opening scene. The warring gangs meet in the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park, though the film was shot in the Upper West Side’s Riverside Park, where Cyrus declares a truce to end the violence.
So, how did they resolve the problem? They enlisted the help of a few local gang members who were already dressed to the nines to complete the scene. They kept them in check by having police officers appear as cameos, which added authenticity.
The irony of filming a film about dangerous gangs in their neighborhoods was not lost on the cast and crew. How do you keep a film about rival gangs authentic without murdering your form? According to the director, a local gang once pissed on the actors from above during a scene beneath an elevated subway track. Another time, when “dozens of kids swarmed the block’s abandoned buildings, jeering the Warriors incessantly from the normally vacant windows,” a shoot had to be called off. (Source: Dazed Digital)
Getting High During the Filming
With the filming only taking place in the early morning hours of darkness and between being urinated on and jeered at, Thomas Waites found solace in a little reefer. Waites began sneaking away between takes to get high, returning stoned and agitated. The violence was becoming too much for Waites, who had initially signed up for a more redemptive love story rather than face-off after face-off.
We started shooting and we were laboring over these scenes with all this violence. Laboring over them, And I was getting really fucking frustrated, because I could see this was almost obscene with violence. It wasn‘t what I signed up for. I signed up to be part of a love story, in difficult circumstances, that changes these people.Thomas Waites, Actor who played Fox in The Warriors
(Source: Dazed Digital)
Options to Pull Out the Film from the Theaters
Although it was widely distributed in theaters across the country and easily repaid its meager production budget, it was quickly ruined by a tragic incident in Palm Springs. Members of the Blue Coats, an African-American gang, battled The Family, a white gang. A 19-year-old boy and member of The Family was fatally shot at a drive-in showing of the film on Monday, February 12, 1979. The same night, an 18-year-old died after being stabbed in a movie theater in Oxnard, 165 miles away. As a result, Paramount gave theater chains an out, stating that they would not go to court if the theaters refused to show the film. (Source: Dazed Digital)