15 Things to Look For the Next Time You Watch The Warriors

Paramount Home Video
Paramount Home Video

It turns out people really, really can dig The Warriors. Though, at the time of its release, the low-budget 1979 action movie was mostly known for inspiring a string of vandalism and violent acts, it has gathered a fiendish cult devotion over the years. Fans frequently quote the lingo of its young New York City street gang members (“Warriors, come out to play!”), and the actors who played the film’s titular crew reunited on the city’s subway in 2015 to breathless reactions.

Whether you’re already indoctrinated in the ways of The Warriors, or you’ve yet to experience the movie’s fantastical thrills, here are some interesting facts and moments to keep in mind when watching.

1. IT'S BASED ON A GRAPHIC NOVEL—AND AN ANCIENT GREEK STORY.

The script for The Warriors was adapted from Sol Yurick’s graphic novel of the same name, which in turn quotes and borrows elements from Anabasis, a seven-book adventure by the ancient Greek soldier and writer Xenophon. So just know that while The Warriors might seem very time-stamped, it has roots going back to BC times.

2. IT’S NOT A VERY FAITHFUL ADAPTATION, THOUGH.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

After being handed Yurick’s novel, director Walter Hill immediately had an idea for a fun movie. “I felt very strongly that it certainly was not a very realistic book, and I wanted to make it even less so,” he told Esquire. “I wanted to take it into a fantasy element, but at the same time add some contemporary flash.” The Warriors in the novel are actually the Coney Island Dominators, a black and Hispanic gang. In Hill’s cinematic rendering, the main crew is a diverse group of white and nonwhite misfits.

3. IT HAS COMIC BOOK STYLE.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The filmmakers used a cool trick to integrate animation into the live-action photography. Sections of the movie are broken up by drawn images, which then seamlessly transition into shots of the human actors. For a late 1970s feature made on a shoestring budget, it’s quite a feat.

4. YES, THAT’S THE REAL WONDER WHEEL.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The Warriors was shot in the Big Apple almost entirely in darkness. That proved tremendously difficult, since it was summer and the nights didn’t last long. But the cast and crew got a lot of leeway to roam from the city, which was dealing with a fiscal crisis. The Warriors showcases a metropolis that truly was teetering on the brink of chaos.

5. THE WARRIORS OFFERS A GREAT EDUCATION IN THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY SYSTEM.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Innumerable scenes take place in the real New York City subways, run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, including both underground and elevated trains. As seen on the screen, the trains did operate with tokens back then. The characters also avoid paying by jumping the turnstiles, which seems perfectly acceptable when running for your life.

6. WHY IS THERE A GANG OF ... MIMES?

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The Warriors takes a lot of humorous liberties in concocting its fictional street gangs, which seem to have free rein in a dystopian, futuristic version of New York City. One of the more eccentric tribes is a cluster of mimes in full costume. It begs a number of questions, most importantly: How do they get anything done?

7. IT'S NOT EXACTLY POLITICALLY CORRECT.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Then again, neither was 1979. The first “f*ggot” is uttered by Warriors member Ajax after Vermin gives him a hard time for only ever thinking about women. (Side note: What did Vermin ever do to deserve that nickname?) Ajax’s go-to defense mechanism is to accuse his friend of being gay with a slur. Some version of the word is used several times throughout the movie. Though it might seem like the film is being homophobic, which is certainly possible, the dialogue is also fairly faithful to the way young men in a tough world at the time would trash-talk each other.

8. THIS IS ONE LONG CHASE FROM A CHASE MASTER.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The Warriors is one of the more exceptional works from director Walter Hill, who earned a deserved reputation for his hard-boiled tough-guy movies made with elegance. While he’ll always be most famous for 48 Hrs., the hit starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, his other features like The Driver and The Long Riders are worth seeking out. In particular, The Driver, featuring Ryan O’Neal and Bruce Dern, perfected the car-chase move long before Ryan Gosling’s Drive liberally took inspiration from it.

9. YOU’RE WATCHING REAL GANG MEMBERS.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The real action in The Warriors kicks off with an impressively epic meeting of various gangs in the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park (though it was actually filmed in Riverside Park). Cyrus, the leader of the city’s most powerful gang, invites everyone in an attempt to forge an alliance and increase the gangs’ leverage over police, before being abruptly shot and killed. Hill refers to it as “our big production number.” In order to pull off the sequence, the filmmakers asked real gangs to be extras. So The Warriors feels legit for good reason.

10. IT’S NOT ACTUALLY ALL THAT VIOLENT.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Well, that is, by the standards of today’s superhero movies watched by young children. While the R-rated film puts on a tough pose, beginning with the murder of Cyrus, most of the violence is contained to non-lethal, hand-to-hand combat. The death toll is low relative to the movie’s image, and includes Warriors leader Cleon, who’s framed for Cyrus’s death, and Fox, who’s a victim of a moving train.

11. A DJ STARTS THE TROUBLE.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Messages are relayed to the gangs by an unnamed female DJ, played by Lynne Thigpen, to whom they all apparently have their radios tuned. We never even see her full face, but her hip attitude is memorable. She may or may not have been an influence on Samuel L. Jackson’s DJ Señor Love Daddy in Do the Right Thing, who’s shot in a similar style and hovers over the proceedings of that other New York-to-its-core narrative.

12. A NEW YORK BASEBALL GANG MAKES A LOT OF SENSE.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

If you’ve ever met a passionate Yankees fan, you might already feel like you’ve been in the presence of a baseball gang member. The infamous Baseball Furies in The Warriors are decked out in uniforms strikingly similar to the Bronx-based MLB team. They wield bats as weapons and wear terrifying face makeup. It’s not so dissimilar from what you might find at a brawl outside Yankee Stadium.

13. THE LEADING LADY HAD A HIDDEN INJURY.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

Deborah Van Valkenburgh plays the fiery Mercy, a sexy woman who catches Swan’s (Michael Beck) eye and joins the Warriors on their journey and turns out to be as tough as the boys. While she’s scantily clad when we first meet her, she’s later dressed in a long-sleeved jacket. That’s likely because, as Hill explained, Van Valkenburgh broke her wrist and had to wear a cast, forcing the crew to get creative.

14. THE REAL VILLAINS ARE THE DISCO DANCERS.

One of the more quietly powerful scenes goes by nearly wordlessly. A pack of merry partiers board the subway and, based on their ruffled attire, seem to be coming from or going to some wholesome disco dancing. They fall silent upon seeing the bruised Swan and Mercy, then leave at the next station. The audience, of course, instantly despises them. It seems like a bit of an overreaction from people on a graffiti-splattered train in then-grimy New York, but the point is clear. Two years after Saturday Night Fever, disco had reached peak saturation. And in fact Hill has complained that Paramount hoped The Warriors would be something like the John Travolta hit. Maybe this was his quiet revenge.

15. THE WARRIORS IS ESSENTIALLY AN URBAN WESTERN.

A scene from Walter Hill's 'The Warriors' (1979)
Paramount Home Video

The Warriors emerge at the end of the movie in their native Coney Island after morning has come, where they face Luther (David Patrick Kelly) and his rival gang who pinned Cyrus’s death on them. It’s striking how much this standoff is filmed like a Western—except on the shores of Brooklyn—but it’s not surprising. Hill’s movies are heavily indebted to Westerns, and The Warriors often resembles one in a different context. It’s also notable that the final duel goes off with only minor injury: Swan throws a switchblade into Luther’s arm. What happens to Luther after the end credits roll—well, that’ll have to be explained in a sequel.

The 11 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story (2019).
Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story (2019).
Wilson Webb/Netflix

With thousands of titles available, browsing your Netflix menu can feel like a full-time job. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed, take a look at our picks for the 11 best movies on Netflix right now.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Spider-Man may be in the middle of a Disney and Sony power struggle, but that didn't stop this ambitious animated film from winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 2019 Academy Awards. Using a variety of visual style choices, the film tracks the adventures of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who discovers he's not the only Spider-Man in town.

2. Hell or High Water (2016)

Taylor Sheridan's Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water follows two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who take to bank robberies in an effort to save their family ranch from foreclosure; Jeff Bridges is the drawling, laconic lawman on their tail.

3. Raging Bull (1980)

Robert De Niro takes on the life of pugilist Jake LaMotta in a landmark and Oscar-winning film from Martin Scorsese that frames LaMotta's violent career in stark black and white. Joe Pesci co-stars.

4. Marriage Story (2019)

Director Noah Bambauch drew raves for this deeply emotional drama about a couple (Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson) whose uncoupling takes a heavy emotional and psychological toll on their family.

5. Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Eddie Murphy ended a brief sabbatical from filmmaking following a mixed reception to 2016's Mr. Church with this winning biopic about Rudy Ray Moore, a flailing comedian who finds success when he reinvents himself as Dolemite, a wisecracking pimp. When the character takes off, Moore produces a big-screen feature with a crew of inept collaborators.

6. The Lobster (2015)

Colin Farrell stars in this black comedy that feels reminiscent of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's work: A slump-shouldered loner (Farrell) has just 45 days to find a life partner before he's turned into an animal. Can he make it work with Rachel Weisz, or is he doomed to a life on all fours? By turns absurd and provocative, The Lobster isn't a conventional date movie, but it might have more to say about relationships than a pile of Nicholas Sparks paperbacks.

7. Flash of Genius (2008)

Greg Kinnear stars in this drama based on a true story about inventor Robert Kearns, who revolutionized automobiles with his intermittent windshield wiper. Instead of getting rich, Kearns is ripped off by the automotive industry and engages in a years-long battle for recognition.

8. Locke (2013)

The camera rarely wavers from Tom Hardy in this existential thriller, which takes place entirely in Hardy's vehicle. A construction foreman trying to make sure an important job is executed well, Hardy's Ivan Locke grapples with some surprising news from a mistress and the demands of his family. It's a one-act, one-man play, with Hardy making the repeated act of conversing on his cell phone as tense and compelling as if he were driving with a bomb in the trunk.

9. Cop Car (2015)

When two kids decide to take a police cruiser for a joyride, the driver (Kevin Bacon) begins a dogged pursuit. No good cop, he's got plenty to hide.

10. Taxi Driver (1976)

Another De Niro and Scorsese collaboration hits the mark, as Taxi Driver is regularly cited as one of the greatest American films ever made. De Niro is a potently single-minded Travis Bickle, a cabbie in a seedy '70s New York who wants to be an avenging angel for victims of crime. The mercurial Bickle, however, is just as unhinged as those he targets.

11. Sweet Virginia (2017)

Jon Bernthal lumbers through this thriller as a former rodeo star whose career has left him physically broken. Now managing a hotel in small-town Alaska, he stumbles onto a plot involving a murderer-for-hire (Christopher Abbott), upending his quiet existence and forcing him to take action.

The Definitive Guide to All the Cats in Cats

James Corden, Laurie Davidson, and Francesca Hayward star in Tom Hooper's Cats (2019).
James Corden, Laurie Davidson, and Francesca Hayward star in Tom Hooper's Cats (2019).
Universal Pictures

Regardless of whether you were impressed, confused, or downright frightened by the trailer for Tom Hooper’s upcoming film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical Cats, it’s safe to say that the star-studded cast and “digital fur technology” generated strong reactions all around. And, if you didn’t grow up listening to the soundtrack or watching performers in the 1998 film version purr and prance in furry, feline bodysuits, your shock is completely understandable.

Cats is light on plot, heavy on characters, and sprinkled with words that T.S. Eliot made up for his 1939 poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the basis for the musical. To familiarize yourself with all the eccentrically named cats—and find out who’s portraying them in the film—here’s a comprehensive list of every "romantical, pedantical, critical, parasitical, allegorical, metaphorical, statistical, and mystical" cat you’ll meet.

Admetus

admetus cats film 1998
Really Useful Films

Played by: Eric Underwood

Admetus is a ginger and white chorus cat with no spoken lines, but plenty of strong dancing sequences—perfect for former Royal Ballet soloist Eric Underwood. Though some musical productions have renamed Admetus as Plato (both names are mentioned in “The Naming of Cats”), the film will feature them as two separate characters.

Alonzo

Played by: Bluey Robinson

Alonzo is another chorus cat, identifiable by the black patches of fur on his face and the black-and-white stripes on his head. Apart from his ensemble appearances, he has intermittent solo lines and also assists Munkustrap during the fight against Macavity. Since singer/songwriter Bluey Robinson will portray him in the film, it’s possible that Alonzo will dance less than he has in stage productions.

Asparagus, the Theatre Cat

Played by: Sir Ian McKellen

Nicknamed “Gus,” this elderly, trembling tabby has an impressive acting history, which he recounts at length during his song (along with a few disparaging comments about how the theater isn’t what it once was, and kittens these days aren’t properly trained). Who better to play one of the Jellicles’ most well-respected thespians than one of the humans' most well-respected thespians, Sir Ian McKellen?

Bombalurina

Played by: Taylor Swift

Though Bombalurina is only mentioned by name once (in “The Naming of Cats”), she’s pretty hard to miss: the slinky, red-coated cat helps introduce Jennyanydots, the Rum Tum Tugger, Grizabella, Bustopher Jones, and Macavity. She most often sings with Demeter, her duet partner for “Macavity the Mystery Cat.”

Bustopher Jones

Played by: James Corden

Known as “the Brummell of cats,” this black-and-white, epicurean dandy frequents gentlemen’s clubs, wears white spats, and weighs a whopping 25 pounds. Jones’s genial manner endears him to just about everyone—not unlike James Corden.

Cassandra

cassandra in 1998's cats film
Really Useful Films

Played by: Mette Towley

With her sleek brown coat and her regal, mysterious manner, Cassandra seems like she might’ve been worshipped by ancient Egyptians in a past life. You might recognize Mette Towley, a member of Pharrell’s dance group, The Baes, from her appearances in 2019’s Hustlers and Rihanna’s “Lemon” music video—and you can be sure that she’ll uphold Cassandra’s legacy as one of the most eye-catching chorus cats.

Coricopat and Tantomile

Played by: Jaih Betote and Zizi Strallen

These striped twin tabby cats always move in unison and boast psychic abilities. Though the roles are sometimes cut from theatrical productions, we’ll get to see them in the film, played by hip hop dancer Jaih Betote and Zizi Strallen, best known for her work as Mary Poppins in the recent West End revival.

Demeter

demeter in 1998's cats film
Really Useful Films

Played by: Daniela Norman

This multicolored, slightly skittish cat usually duets with Bombalurina, and together they perform “Macavity the Mystery Cat” in full. It’s often implied that Demeter has a complicated romantic past with Macavity, who tries to abduct her during his attack. British ballet dancer Daniela Norman will star opposite Taylor Swift’s Bombalurina in the film, and you can also see her in Netflix’s upcoming ballet drama series Tiny Pretty Things.

Grizabella, the Glamour Cat

Played by: Jennifer Hudson

This aging starlet is now decrepit, depressed, and shamefully rejected by the rest of the Jellicles—think Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond with more self-awareness and very raggedy fur. Even if the Cats original cast recording wasn’t the soundtrack for your childhood road trips, you might have heard Grizabella’s song “Memory;” it’s been covered by Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Barry Manilow, Glee’s Chris Colfer, and more. American Idol alum (and general ballad-belting powerhouse) Jennifer Hudson will bring her Academy Award-winning talents to the role of Grizabella in the film.

Growltiger and Griddlebone

Played by: Ray Winstone and Melissa Madden Gray

Growltiger, a rough-riding sea captain cat, and Griddlebone, his fluffy white lover, appear during “Growltiger’s Last Stand,” during which Gus reminisces about having played the part of Growltiger in a stage production long ago. The characters have been left out of some productions, including the 1998 film, but Hooper’s version will feature them, where they'll be played by British actor Ray Winstone and Australian performer Melissa Madden Gray (whose stage name, fittingly, is Meow Meow).

Jellylorum

Played by: Freya Rowley

Named after T.S. Eliot’s own cat, Jellylorum is a maternal calico who cares for Gus and also helps introduce Jennyanydots and Bustopher Jones. Though sometimes portrayed as older and more mature than some of the other cats, Freya Rowley (who performed as Tantomile on the UK tour of Cats) will likely bring a younger energy to the character.

Jennyanydots, the Old Gumbie Cat

Played by: Rebel Wilson

Jennyanydots is a goofy old tabby cat who lazes around all day and spends her nights teaching the basement vermin various household skills, etiquette, and performing arts. Under her tutelage, the mice learn to crochet, the cockroaches become helpful boy scouts, and the beetles form a tap-dancing troupe. Rebel Wilson is a perfect match for such a multifaceted, eccentric, and amusing gumbie cat (whatever gumbie is).

Macavity, the Mystery Cat

Played by: Idris Elba

The show’s main antagonist is a tall, thin criminal cat with sunken eyes and dusty ginger fur. While the Jellicles are plainly terrified of this “monster of depravity,” they also seem eerily impressed by his ability to elude capture and conviction. Historically, Macavity hasn’t done any speaking, singing, or dancing—he only shows up briefly to kidnap Old Deuteronomy during a rousing cat fight—but here’s hoping that Hooper has broadened the role for the film so we get to hear at least a good growl or two from Idris Elba.

Mr. Mistoffelees

Played by: Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson, who played Shakespeare in TNT’s Will, will take on the role of Mr. Mistoffelees, an affable tuxedo cat who peppers his magic tricks with plenty of high leaps and pizzazz. He’s generally beloved by the rest of the cats, and he also saves the day by conjuring Old Deuteronomy from wherever Macavity had hidden him.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer

Played by: Danny Collins and Naoimh Morgan

These two roguish calicos describe themselves as “knockabout clowns, quick-change comedians, tightrope walkers, and acrobats.” They’re also partners in petty crime, notorious for smashing vases, stealing pearls, and generally wreaking havoc upon their posh family in Victoria Grove. British dancer Danny Collins will join Naoimh Morgan—who actually played Rumpleteazer in the Cats international tour—to bring the spirited rascals to life in the film.

Munkustrap

Played by: Robert Fairchild

Without Munkustrap, viewers would have little hope of understanding what’s actually happening in this vaguely plotted musical. Though there’s no song to introduce him, the striking, silver cat is still arguably the most important character: He describes the function of the Jellicle Ball, narrates the action as it unfolds, and leads the charge against Macavity’s attack. It takes a certified musical theater machine to play such an integral part, and Hooper has surely found that in Robert Fairchild, former New York City Ballet principal dancer and Tony Award nominee for An American in Paris.

Old Deuteronomy

Played by: Dame Judi Dench

In the gender-swapped role of our dreams, Dame Judi Dench will play Old Deuteronomy, the revered (usually male) town elder who chooses one lucky kitty at the annual Jellicle Ball to ascend to cat heaven, the Heaviside Layer, and be born again. It isn’t Dench’s first time in the junkyard: She was preparing to appear as both Jennyanydots and Grizabella in the original 1981 West End production of Cats when she snapped her Achilles tendon and had to pull out.

Plato and Socrates

Played by: Larry and Laurent Bourgeois (Les Twins)

Though Plato is a chorus cat mentioned in “The Naming of Cats” and included in some stage productions, Socrates was created specifically for Hooper’s film to make room for both halves of Les Twins, also known as Larry and Laurent Bourgeois. The French hip hop duo gained mainstream recognition after Beyoncé featured them in her 2018 Coachella set and subsequent Netflix concert film Homecoming.

Rum Tum Tugger

Played by: Jason Derulo

The Rum Tum Tugger is a perpetually fickle feline with a lot of rock-n’-roll flair and a pair of hips that he seems to have stolen from Mick Jagger himself. In addition to his own song, Tugger also sings “Mr. Mistoffelees” and features in a few other numbers. With Jason Derulo taking on the role for the film, there’s a good chance we’ll see a modernized, moonwalking version of this swoon-worthy cat.

Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat

Played by: Steven McRae

Skimbleshanks is a charming Scottish cat who looks like a friendly tiger and ensures that all is in order on the night trains, which includes everything from patrolling for mice to reminding the guard to ask passengers how they like their tea. With his flaming red hair and graceful precision, Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae definitely has a couple things in common with his character.

Syllabub/Sillabub/Jemima

Played by: Jonadette Carpio

This kitten’s name varies from production to production, but she’s usually characterized by her playful, innocent manner and her willingness to accept Grizabella when the other Jellicles try to shun her. Jonadette Carpio, Philippines native and member of the all-female Krump crew Buckness Personified, will bring her street dance background to the role in the film.

Victoria

Played by: Francesca Hayward

Though lithe, light-footed Victoria doesn’t sing any lines of her own in the original musical, her gleaming white coat and balletic dance solos still make her a standout—so it’s only fitting that Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward will bring her to life in the film, where the role has been expanded into a main character. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Taylor Swift even collaborated on a new song called “Beautiful Ghosts” that Hayward will sing in the movie.

Miscellaneous Chorus Cats

Because theater companies vary in size and scope, certain chorus cats are sometimes omitted from productions—or members of the ensemble just aren’t assigned specific characters. At this point, Bill Bailey, Carbucketty, Electra, Etcetera, Peter, Pouncival, Quaxo, Rumpus Cat, Tumblebrutus, and Victor are all chorus cat names that haven’t been given to anybody in the film, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see extra cats in the shadows. According to Dance Spirit, Corey John Snide and Kolton Krause, who played Coricopat and Tumblebrutus on Broadway, respectively, have both been cast as ensemble members in Hooper’s film.

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