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.

12 Good Ol' Facts About The Dukes of Hazzard

Getty Images
Getty Images

When The Dukes of Hazzard premiered on January 26, 1979, it was intended to be a temporary patch in CBS’s primetime schedule until The Incredible Hulk returned. Only nine episodes were ordered, and few executives at the network had any expectation that the series—about two amiable brothers at odds with the corrupt law enforcement of Hazzard County—would become both a ratings powerhouse and a merchandising bonanza. Check out some of these lesser-known facts about the Duke boys, their extended family, and the gravity-defying General Lee.

1. CBS's chairman hated The Dukes of Hazzard.

CBS chairman William Paley never quite bought into the idea of spinning his opinion to match the company line. Having built CBS from a radio station to one of the “Big Three” television networks, he had harvested talent as diverse as Norman Lear and Lucille Ball, a marked contrast to the Southern-fried humor of The Dukes of Hazzard. In his 80s when it became a top 10 series and seeing no reason to censor himself, Paley repeatedly and publicly described the show as “lousy.”

2. The Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee got 35,000 fan letters a month.


Getty Images

While John Schneider and Tom Wopat were the ostensible stars of the show, both the actors and the show's producers quickly found out that the main attraction was the 1969 Dodge Charger—dubbed the General Lee—that trafficked brothers Bo and Luke Duke from one caper to another. Of the 60,000 letters the series was receiving every month in 1981, 35,000 wanted more information on or pictures of the car.

3. Dennis Quaid wanted to be The Dukes of Hazzard's Luke Duke—on one condition.

When the show began casting in 1978, producers threw out a wide net searching for the leads. Dennis Quaid was among those interested in the role of Luke Duke—which eventually went to Wopat—but he had a condition: he would only agree to the show if his then-wife, P.J. Soles, was cast at the Dukes’ cousin, Daisy. Soles wasn’t a proper fit for the supporting part, which put Quaid off; Catherine Bach was eventually cast as Daisy.

4. John Schneider pretended to be a redneck for his Dukes of Hazzard audition.

New York native Schneider was only 18 years old when he went in to read for the role of Bo Duke. The problem: producers wanted someone 24 to 30 years old. Schneider lied about his age and passed himself off as a Southern archetype, strutting in wearing a cowboy hat, drinking a beer, and spitting tobacco. He also told them he could do stunt driving. It was a good enough performance to land him the show.

5. The Dukes of Hazzard co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat met while taking a poop.

After Schneider was cast, the show needed to locate an actor who could complement Bo. Stage actor Wopat was flown in for a screen test; Schneider happened to be in the bathroom when Wopat walked in after him. The two began talking about music—Schneider had seen a guitar under the stall door—and found they had an easy camaraderie. After flushing, the two did a scene. Wopat was hired immediately.

6. Daisy's Dukes needed a tweak on The Dukes of Hazzard.

Bach’s omnipresent jean shorts were such a hit that any kind of cutoffs quickly became known as “Daisy Dukes,” after her character. But they were so skimpy that the network was concerned censors wouldn’t allow them. A negotiation began, and it was eventually decided that Bach would wear some extremely sheer pantyhose to make sure there were no clothing malfunctions.

7. Nancy Reagan was fan of The Dukes of Hazzard's Daisy.

Shirley Moore, Bach’s former grade school teacher, went on to work in the White House. After Bach sent her a poster, she was surprised to hear back that then-First Lady Nancy Reagan was enamored with it. “I’m the envy of the White House and I’m having your poster framed,” Moore wrote in a letter. “Mrs. Reagan saw the picture and fell in love with it.” Bach sent more posters, which presumably became part of the decor during the Reagan administration.

8. The Dukes of Hazzard's stars had some very bizarre contract demands.

Wopat and Schneider famously walked off the series in 1982 after demanding a cut of the show’s massive merchandising revenue—which was, by one estimate, more than $190 million in 1981 alone. They were replaced with Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer, “cousins” of the Duke boys, who were reviled by fans for being scabs. The two leads eventually came back, but it wasn’t the only time Warner Bros. had to deal with irate actors. James Best, who portrayed crooked sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, refused to film five episodes because he had no private dressing room in which to change his clothes; the production just hosed him down when he got dirty. Ben Jones, who played “Cooter” the mechanic, briefly left because he wanted his character to sport a beard and producers preferred he be clean-shaven.

9. A miniature car was used for some stunts in The Dukes of Hazzard.

As established, the General Lee was a primary attraction for viewers of the series. For years, the show wrecked dozens of Chargers by jumping, crashing, and otherwise abusing them, which created some terrific footage. For its seventh and final season in 1985, the show turned to a miniature effects team in an effort to save on production costs: it was cheaper to mangle a Hot Wheels-sized model than the real thing. “It was a source of embarrassment to all of us on the show,” Wopat told E!.

10. The Dukes of Hazzard's famous "hood slide" was an accident.

A staple—and, eventually, cliché—of action films everywhere, the slide over the hood was popularized by Tom Wopat. While it may have been tempting to take credit, Wopat said it was unintentional and that the first time he tried clearing the hood, the car’s antenna wound up injuring him.

11. The Dukes of Hazzard cartoon went international.


YouTube

Warner Bros. capitalized on the show’s phenomenal popularity with an animated series, The Dukes, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera and aired in 1983. Taking advantage of the form, the Duke boys traveled internationally, racing Boss Hogg through Greece or Hong Kong. Perhaps owing to the fact that the live-action series was already considered enough of a cartoon, the animated series only lasted 20 episodes.

12. In 2015, Warner Bros. banned the Confederate flag from The Dukes of Hazzard merchandising.

At the time the series originally aired, little was made of the General Lee sporting a Confederate flag on its hood. In 2015, after then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spoke out against the depiction of the flag in popular culture, Warner Bros. elected to stop licensing products with the original roof. The company announced that all future Dukes merchandise would drop the design element. Schneider disagreed with the decision, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Is the flag used as such in other applications? Yes, but certainly not on the Dukes ... Labeling anyone who has the flag a ‘racist’ seems unfair to those who are clearly ‘never meanin’ no harm.'”

8 Surprising Facts About Paul Newman

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

With roles as varied as pool shark “Fast” Eddie Felson in 1961’s The Hustler (and 1986's The Color of Money) and alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin in 1982’s The Verdict, Paul Newman never conformed to type. The versatile actor spent decades as a movie star, auto racer, and part-time salad dressing pitchman. In honor of what would have been Newman’s 95th birthday on January 26, 2020, take a look at some lesser-known details of the performer’s life and career.

1. Paul Newman originally wanted to be a football player.

Born in Cleveland and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Paul Newman was the offspring of Arthur, a sporting goods store owner, and Teresa, whose love of theater eventually proved contagious. But Newman originally had his sights set on a sports career. He played football in high school and college before enlisting in the U.S. Navy Air Corps, where he served as a radio operator (as he was ineligible to be a pilot due to being colorblind).

When Newman returned home in 1946, he attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio on a football scholarship. After getting arrested for fighting and being kicked off the team, Newman decided to shift his major to theater. He eventually wound up in summer stock and then the Yale School of Drama before heading off to be a full-time actor in New York.

2. Paul Newman thought his first film was the worst movie ever made.

After stints on stage and in television, including roles in Playhouse 90, Newman was offered the starring role in 1954’s The Silver Chalice, about a Greek slave who crafts the cup used during the Last Supper. While the $1000 weekly salary was welcome, the film was not. Newman later asked friends to sit through it while drubbing it as the worst film ever made. He had better luck two years later when he played boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956). In 1958, Newman earned his first of 10 Academy Award nominations for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

3. Paul Newman was often mistaken for Marlon Brando.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward standing outdoors, circa 1962
Paul Newman and wife Joanne Woodward, circa 1962.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Early in their respective careers, Newman was regularly approached by people who thought he was Marlon Brando. Rather than correct them, he would oblige their request for an autograph by signing, “Best Wishes, Marlon Brando.”

4. Paul Newman frequently enjoyed faking his own death.

Newman, who was described by most who knew him as an affable man, had a mischievous streak that often manifested in practical jokes on his directors. A frequent target was George Roy Hill, who directed Newman in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1973’s The Sting, and 1977’s Slap Shot. Newman cut Hill’s desk and car in half during filming of the first two films. While making Slap Shot, he crawled behind the wheel of a wrecked car and pretended he had been in an accident, much to Hill’s horror.

While making 1960’s Exodus, Newman pranked director Otto Preminger by tossing a dummy off a building knowing Preminger would think it was him: Preminger collapsed in shock. He repeated the joke during shooting of 1973’s The MacKintosh Man, tossing another dummy off a 60-foot building in front of director John Huston.

5. A movie introduced Paul Newman to racing.

It was starring in the 1969 racing film Winning that led Newman down a path of competitive racing in his private life. In 1972, Newman started driving on an amateur level before winning his first professional race in 1982. At age 70, he was part of the winning team in the 1995 Daytona 24-Hours sports car endurance race and continued to drive through 2005. The hobby was one of the few things that could get Newman, who was notoriously press-shy, to open up to media. “I’ll always talk about racing because the people are interesting and fun, the sport is a lot more exciting than anything else I do, and nobody cares that I’m an actor,” Newman said. “I wish I could spend all my time at the racetrack.”

6. Richard Nixon considered Paul Newman an enemy.

Actor Paul Newman is pictured in Venice, Italy in 1963
Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images

President Richard Nixon, who was no stranger to controversy, liked to keep tabs on people he considered volatile and in opposition to his politics. While that normally included political figures, his “enemies list” also included Newman. The actor earned the honor by supporting 1968 presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey and being an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War. Oddly, Newman and Nixon had some personal history: Both men shared use of a Jaguar on loan from an automobile dealer. When Newman learned that Nixon was driving the car during part of the week, he left a note saying Nixon should find no trouble operating a car with a “tricky clutch,” a nod to Nixon’s “Tricky Dick” nickname. When Nixon gathered his list of rivals in 1971, Newman’s name was on it. The actor later got a copy and had it framed.

7. Martha Stewart helped put Paul Newman’s salad dressing on the map.

Today it's not uncommon for major actors to lend their images to food and alcoholic beverages. In the early 1980s, it was unusual, though Newman wasn’t looking to make history—only salad dressing. The actor enjoyed mixing an oil and vinegar blend and giving it out to friends and family around the holidays. With friend A.E. Hotchner, Newman bottled a batch and dispensed it over the 1980 Christmas season. Martha Stewart, who was then a caterer, was living in Newman's neighborhood at the time and reported a blind taste test was in favor of the dressing. Newman agreed to put his face on the bottle and call it Newman’s Own. The dressing and the foods to come—including spaghetti sauce—generated profits that Newman donated entirely to charity. As of 2015, the company has delivered an estimated $430 million to charitable causes.

8. Paul Newman once offered part of his salary to a co-star.

While making the 1998 film Twilight with Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon, Newman was surprised to discover that both he and Hackman were making considerably more than Sarandon, despite all three receiving equal billing. Sarandon told the BBC in 2018 that Newman then offered to give up a portion of his salary to make things equitable.

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