Wanderers Classic is Wondrous

Other | Tuesday 7th March 2017 | Ben

The Wanderers is a film about gang culture in the 60s and it’s a cult classic the problem is that it’s way too good to just be considered a 'cult.'

Set against the urban backdrop of Brooklyn. It’s a coming of age tale about an American/Italian gang called The Wanderers. Directed by Philip Kaufman and based on the novel of the same name. 

Now I know what you’re thinking, a coming of age tale involving boys in a new-york gang is hardly an  innovative plot and I would agree if it was as cliché filled as you think it is.

The reason I think ithis film is extremely underrated is it has the rare quality of creating characters that are relatable and extremely endearing. 

Ken Wahl plays ‘Richie’ who is the leader of the wanderers and the classic Cool Kid you wished you was when you were younger. Wahl plays Richie with a heart warming sense of insecurity and his character arc is the emotional heart of the film for sure.

John Friedrich plays Joey, Richies best friend and sidekick. Living with an abusive father who doesn't let him indulge in his passion for art. Soon forming a close bond with a new member Perry, the group is made. The light-hearted nature of the script helps tackle their emotional arcs in a unique way.

It’s also clearly a comedy, noting the post-Vietnam era of filmmaking this would have been a brave choice. It’s the 1970s and you’re making a gang film, and you decide to shoot it as a comedy?

Despite the source material not being as comedy orientated.The big Rival gang are the perfect example of this, the big tough gang you are being told to fear are called The Baldies. With the main antagonists called PeeWee and Turkey the typical useless villain E.G Team Rocket. The line ‘Nobody messes with the baldies!’ being bellowed in multiple scenes makes for hilarious set-pieces.

But if you’re not sold on The wanderers just yet it has the soundtrack of your dreams. Vintage 1950's rock and roll ‘Walk like a man’  and ‘You’ve got a hold on me’ being a few examples of the soundtrack that makes you wish you grew up back then.

Ultimately what didn’t help this film was being the understudy to The Warriors. The cyber-punk classic coming out a year later,the mega-hit truly drowned out any real traction this film could have gained. 

Half-comedy and half teenage angst, it’s a real tale of the endearing quality of friendship in your youth and it’s a good watch.