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The Lords of Flatbush
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2004
"The Lord's Of Flatbush" was made on a budget of less than $100,000 prior to any of its stars becoming household names. Derivative of other similar and better movies it has still managed to garner a strong cult following in the years since its release. Technically crude, the film has a grainy quality and some scenes are very badly lit; most of the movie seems fuzzy and unfocused. Speech suffers the worst as it is very soft and distant in different spots throughout the film. That's too bad because the filmmakers display a good use of color and the period detail and flavor are among the best of its kind. But that's not what keeps this movie from achieving all it could have - the main culprit here is the story, what little there is.

Circa 1957, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York where four high school seniors are the self-styled members of a group calling themselves The Lord's Of Flatbush. Stanley, their self-proclaimed leader, Butchey, Chico and Wimpy hassle girls on their way into school, disrupt classrooms, steal cars, stay out all night...in general they behave recklessly and typically disrespectful. Stanley gets a wakeup call when his girlfriend announces to him she's pregnant. He tries to avoid 'doing the right thing', preferring to continue to display the image he's long played out. Chico spends all his time trying to have his way with the new blond girl in class, Jane. She's too smart and well-bred for him to con though and this irritates and eats away at him. Butchey gets called a schmuck by Eddie the proprietor of the Lord's local hangout - not because he's a fool Eddie says but because he's got brains and he could be something if he wanted to be. Wimpy continues to feel the need to prove himself 'a man' because he's so much shorter than everyone around him. The characters come full circle by the end of the movie at Stanley's & Frannie's wedding having each had to face up to their own immaturity and are now ready to move on with life after high school.

That's it in a nutshell. There really isn't much happening onscreen as far as a story goes. Another weakness is that the transitions between scenes aren't very smooth; the episodic and choppy storyline is the reason why. Still, you can clearly see the movie building up to the point where the four main characters each realize that the 'wiseguy' persona they display aren't going to get them very far in life. Stanley (played by Sylvester Stallone) finally agrees to marry Frannie; even after he discovers she's not really pregnant he still determines to marry her because he thinks his life will be a dead end if he doesn't. After Chico (Perry King) gets over the shock and anger of being rejected by Jane (Susan Blakely) he moves on as well, wanting to forget the whole episode even happened. Butchey (Henry Winkler) silently dreams of going to college but still isn't comfortable sharing that thought with anyone yet; or it could be that his pals have known all along - the film leaves that up to you to decide. Wimpy doesn't really progress much but without the presence of his three Lord's members playing out their roles around him he'll have to make it on his own and in his own way.

There are a few other problems I had with this film besides the main one I mentioned. How is it that King's character Chico can afford a top of the line Harley Davidson motorcycle? It isn't established at all but I got the sense his mother bought it for him - there is the ever so slightest hint she may be 'comfortably well-off'. Also too much time is spent spotlighting Chico, a tired stereotypical teen whose sole aim in life is to make out. Speaking of 'teens' all of the actors here are clearly too old for their roles; most of them are ten years older than the characters they play (kind of like TV's "Happy Days" in that respect!). Stallone too obviously patterned much of his characterization on roles played by Marlon Brando early in his career. His character's name is Stanley (Brando's character name in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' is Stanley Kowalski), he raises pigeons on the rooftop of his tenement dwelling (Brando's character Terry Malloy does so too in 'On The Waterfront'), etc. Stallone's no Brando but he is likable here nonetheless. Winkler's character Butchey appears with the rest of the gang in the scenes at the opening credits but then disappears for nearly the next thirty minutes and gets precious little time after that. He's quite good here as a 'Fonzie' wannabe - no one needs an introduction to television and "Happy Days" legendary character 'Fonzie'. He made this movie in the year preceding initial production for that TV series; his work here probably helped him win the part. Also the film lacks any genuine humor; most of the scenes meant to make us laugh have been played out before in other movies, it just isn't fresh. The film's best joke: Frannie confides to Annie her embarrassment of having to tell the priest about her impending pregnancy. Annie responds to her "So what. Why do you think they call the church 'Our Lady Of A Thousand Sorrows'?"

Still, the positives of "The Lord's Of Flatbush" are what continue to make it's fans come to it's defense in numbers. The directors have captured the look and feel of late 50's Brooklyn fantastically - especially considering the minimal budget they worked with. And without a doubt what has kept this movie in circulation is the presence of a handful of future stars. Stallone would go on to world-wide fame with both the series of 'Rocky' films and later on the series of 'Rambo' films. Likewise, Winkler went on to fame and fortune as 'Fonzie' as was already mentioned; he's quite busy as a producer of both television and movies as well these days. King has gained a respectable reputation appearing as a star or supporting player in such cult hits as "Andy Warhol's Bad", "Slaughterhouse Five", "The Possession Of Joel Delaney" and "Class Of '84". Blakely gained a huge public following after her appearance in the smash hit, trendsetting TV mini-series 'Rich Man, Poor Man'. I think what also helps this movie is that it came out on the heels of the success of 'American Graffiti' and at the tail end of the first season broadcast of "Happy Days". It already had a market to tap into and the film has remained in the thoughts of those who saw it then - most of its defenders seem to be from this general time frame.

The DVD is a limited package containing only the usual theatrical trailer, talent files and a couple of teasers for the movies 'Bugsy' and 'La Bamba'. An introduction to the film by the directors or a remembrance of the time spent making the picture by some of the actors involved would have helped. It would give the film an extra punch that is sorely lacking. I'm sure Columbia did the best job they could with the transfer; the original source couldn't have been better than what we're given here.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2006
I grew up in Philadelphia and I remember guys like this Brooklyn quartet.

This is a hard-to-find film, but well worth it. I remember first seeing "The Lords Of Flatbush" at the theatre and when it came out on DVD, I was glad to eventually get my own copy. This is a "historical" film since it was the starting point for most, if not all, of the main characters. The actors' dress, hair styles, language, cigarette smoking, toothpick chewing, girlfriends and situations are "timely"... and the cars are wonderful. I flashed back! "Cool, Cats....Cool"
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2008
Great movie, takes me back to a time when you could lube your car's engine by rubbing your greasy head up against it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2012
The Lord's of Flatbush (1974) most likely will have been an
easy target of critics for its modest aims, which was to
portray adolescents (below 21 years of age) in America, and
for recreating how the world was seen by 3 high school
pals, also comprising a sports clique (not a real gang, in
today's terminology.) Conversely, it is precisely because
of its modest aims, that this movie is relaxing, amusing
and entertaining.

The fact that Sylvester Stallone (shown very early in his
career, almost 10 years before Rambo, and a few before
Rocky) has a major part also adds to the watchability from
strong personality and presence.

Almost 30 years later, Perry King's acting is reminiscent
at times, of Woody Harrelson's. Finally, Henry Winkler has
a supporting role, perhaps the originator of his 1970's TV
series character as a motorcycle fan and "wise guy" as they
say, not a menacing character in any way.

The filming, the story and emotional depth does not show
its age...relationships, friendship, romance, youth,
irrationality, acheiving an understanding of the world, the
complexity of life and of oneself are timeless topics.

Bravo...for this movie - that doesn't take itself too
seriously, yet has meaning from beginning to end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
So glad to have this little gem of a movie on DVD in Anamorphic Widescreen format,the picture is a bit soft and the sound could be better,but this is a very low budget film about life in the 50's(simialr to American Graffiti),so it looks fine enough for me,some better extras would have been nice(all that's included are a very rough looking original theatrical traier and some bios for a few of the stars,and 2 so called bonus trailers for the films Bugsy and La Bamba(,but overall a fine DVD,much better than VHS!!! See Sylvester Stallone before is Rocky role(actully if watch the film,he's starting to bulk up and you even will see him using a hand grip in one scene,hmm getting prepared to go the distance,he would make to classic Death Race 2000 next,next is a pre Fonzie Henry Winkler,also in "Lords" gang are Perry King and Paul Mace,other fimilair faces are also present including Susan Blakely,Paul Jabara,Dolph Sweet,Ray Sharky and Armand Assante spelled in the closing credits as Assanti. A great little cult claasic full of stellar preformances!!! Two thumbs up!!! A+
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2004
I have recently seen "The Lords of Flatbush" on an older VHS copy which started out in widescreen until the opening credits were done. I wish I would have seen this widescreen DVD here. It probably looks spanking good. Stanley (Sylvester Stallone) is at a crossroads with his steady girl who feels they should get married. Bike-riding Chico is at odds with the new girl in town, Jane. Henry "The Fonz" Winkler makes his pre-"Happy Days" appearance in this film. He is the man! His voice sounds kind of funny at times. In one shot it looked like his dialogue wasn't matching his mouth movement. Was his voice dubbed? The soundtrack consists of songs written for the film that sound like typical '50s songs.
If you like films of this genre like I do, go for it, dude!
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on October 17, 2009
First of all, Stallone and Winkler both give solid performances as street hoodlums on the verge of manhood. Perry King and Paul Mace are good as well, making this cast quite first-rate.

This film is entertaining as long as one doesn't expect anything that remotely resembles a plot. An amagamation of subplots serves to fill the void, and the film somehow works. It's exactly as billed in the trailer, sung as a doo-wop tune: "The Lords of Flatbush is a movie / About what life was like back in the fifties".

Well, that lyric says it all.

This film will not cure any ailments, but if you want to know what started the careers of Stallone and Winkler, look no further. It's entertaining, quite well acted, and insightful regarding the lives and outlooks of kids coming of age in the late 1950's.
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on September 24, 2011
I grew up back in the 60's. And the 50's always facinated me. (Mainly due to the music which is much better than today.) But thats only one persons thoughts about it. (which is my own) To me music is a reflextion of the life we live. Too bad things couldn't stay the same like the 60's. But everything changes with the times we live in. Now today the kids are into that rap music. I dont know, music is a big influnce on people. And im not saying all rap is bad. But I do believe alot of the rap music rubs off on our kids in the wrong way. I really hope in the next generations something better comes along. Music can also help put alot more love in this life. I just hope we ant too far gone for that. But this is only one persons oppinion. And I hope it gets better.
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on December 22, 2008
You can't help but see Fonzie when you see Henry Winkler in this film...but Happy Days it ain't.

Don't get me wrong, it is a great little b-movie (even the soundtrack is low budget with original 1970s songs trying to sound 1950s). But this film is not the innocent 1950s that Happy Days portrays. It is a straight, in-your-face look at the juvenile delinquent life--a day in the life of four guys in a gang called The Lords.

These guys get together with girls, fight, disrupt the classroom, and ultimately realize that they eventually have to grow up (or at least Sylvester Stallone's character Stanley does).

If you want a good juvenile delinquent film with familiar faces and cool nostalgia, then go to Flatbush with The Lords!
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on September 7, 2012
I really like the movie 'Lords of Flatbush', mostly because I actually live in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where the movie is supposed to take place. My problem with the dvd is that the sounds quality was horrendous, even after trying to make a variety of changes to my audio/sound settings. I had to watch the movie with the volume on my very large television up to maximum level, and there were still parts in which I was straining my eardrums to try to hear the dialogue. Besides that gripe, the movie is good and the soundtrack is great. Will be waiting for a dvd version of this movie to come out that has fixed the sound problems.
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