Classic Scene: The Warriors

Warriors, come out to play-ayyy!

Walter Hill’s 1979 cult classic The Warriors was very much derided and misunderstood upon release, criticised for its dialogue, violence and romanticising gang life. Adapted from Sol Yurick’s novel, itself based on Ancient Greek tragedy Anabasis, the film follows the titular gang as they try to make it back to their Coney Island base through the eerily empty and hostile streets and subway systems of New York, all the while being hunted by rival (themed) gangs. The film had its advertising pulled after being linked to an upswing in gang related violence and vandalism and at least three killings, and Paramount released cinema owners from contractual obligations to show the film as well as offering to fund extra security for those that showed it. Regardless, the film was a box office success, and has gone through a positive critical re-evaluation. The Warriors is a thrilling and stylistically memorable film that could only have been made in the 1970s.

But did you know…

1) Walter Hill and actor Thomas G. Waites feuded on set (allegedly this started as Waites refused to accept Hill’s offer of a drink…) to the point that Hill decided to simply kill off Waites’ character to be done with him, demanding the stunt coordinator improvise a scene using a double. When the coordinator protested they needed weeks of prep, Hill stated, “I don’t give a shit how you kill him, kill him”. As a result Waites had his name removed from the credits.

2) As is often the case with memorable lines, David Patrick Kelly improvised his “Waaaaarriors, come out to plaaaay” screech whilst clinking together bottles, stating that he was influenced by a man who would mock him earlier in his life.

3) Filmed on location in New York, the production had to hire a gang advisor to assist due to the real-life gangs of New York harassing the cast and crew. Producer Frank Marshall said “our gang adviser would tell us what gang was part of what neighborhood, whether it was a dangerous gang or not, and we tried to go where the friendly gangs were.”