11th Feb2020

Nicolas Cage Appreciation Society: Rumble Fish (1983)

by Kevin Haldon

He changes his name to Cage so as not to live off the Coppola name, then takes a role in his second big feature directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring alongside a whole host of soon to be household name talent…

As I said in the the review of our Lord and Saviours movie Valley Girl, I had never seen Rumble Fishyet. Of course I have heard countless amazing reports of the flick. People saying this is the movie that helped put many names on the map and is an unflinching look at an era in America. This being the second big feature for our man Nic Cage I was only to happy to not only check it out for our mission but also rectify a long standing movie mistake of having not seen Rumble Fish.

I have however seen ’83s Coppola flick The Outsiders hundreds of times and it begs the question which is better? I mean one has Nic Cage so it automatically gains 10 House Points.

Rumble Fish


Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Writer: S.E. Hinton
Stars: Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane

Rusty James (Matt Dillon) is a mindless street thug who wants nothing more than to live up to his brothers legendary status and lead his dwindling gang into street brawls asserting dominance in their small town. Rusty is struggling with his absent mother, his alcoholic father and the impromtu return of his brother Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke). All the while trying to keep a grip of his gang in a time when gangs are dying out, struggling at school and having to face members of his crew with devious intentions… One fight is about to change everything for Rusty James.

I can’t believe I have never seen Rumble Fish!!! Just the cast alone is enough to get my movie mind interested, Add to this the masterful skill of a director like Francis Ford Coppola at the helm and it baffles me how im sitting here in 2020 having just watched 1983s Rumble Fish. Coppola has always been one of my favourite directors and its movies like this that remind me just how good he is with any given genre.

Cast wise yes we have the man of the moment, the subject of our appreciation society the man of many crazy faces Nic Cage in his second big screen feature. This time taking more of a supporting role to the somewhat young Matt Dillon who by the way is absolutely superb as Rusty James. 83 was a hell of a year for Dillon with his part in The Outsiders too. Dillon is playing alongside his brother Motorcycle Boy none other than Mickey Rourke looking young as hell and acting his balls off. The chemistry between these two is amazing but we are then treated to a couple of stand out scenes with their father played by Dennis Hopper. Truly wonderful scenes with these three just superb.

We also have a young Chris Penn as part of Rusty James gang. You know what I keep saying “a young” but this movie was made in 83 so almost everyone is young. Laurence Fishburne is in here fresh off Apocalypse Now. Diane Lane is the female romantic lead. Tom Waits is Benny the owner of Bennys Billairds. I mean christ the talent in front of and behind the camera is world class.

But how was Nicolas Cage???

Well this is a somewhat reserved version of the man we would become accustomed too. Cage plays Smokey a member of the Rusty James gang but from the offset you always have an uneasy feeling like he wants more or thinks he deserves more however he is content with being a loyal foot soldier… For now. In truth we dont get to see a massive great deal of Cage but his scenes are important and at this early stage of his career you can see definite signs of “One day you will be my supporting actor in a movie I am leading” the only real problem being that the core cast is so bloody strong that even in moments for him to shine he is a little overshadowed. Overall though this is where the potential starts to show!


The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Nicolas Cage and Sofia Coppola; and seven Oscar nominees: Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Tom Waits and Diana Scarwid. Not to mention Coppola himself has won a couple Oscars too.


We are sticking in the 80s and this time its a 1984 flick (year of my birth) where our man Nicolas Cage will be teaming up with Fast Times at Ridgemont High co-star Sean Penn… Next up we have Racing with the Moon.


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