Part of our film-by-film flashback to the cinematic glory of 1979

James Remar, Michael Beck, David Harris, Tom McKitterick, Terry Michos, Marcelino Sánchez, Brian Tyler, and Thomas G. Waites in The Warriors (1979). Credit: IMDb

Every generation gets the gangster movie it deserves. For mine, it was The Warriors, Walter Hill’s violent New York fantasy of 1979.

It started as a book, one of those cheap paperbacks with an evocative cover. Written by Sol Yurick, who’d been a juvenile investigator at the welfare department, it was a retelling of a war memoir, the Anabasis, by the ancient Greek soldier Xenophon. Finding himself, in the fourth century B.C., stranded with 10,000 mercenaries in Persia after the death of his commander, Cyrus, Xenophon led his men through a thousand miles of hostile territory to the Black Sea…


Part of our film-by-film flashback to the cinematic glory of 1979

Albert Brooks in “Real Life.” © Paramount Pictures.

Cineplex ’79 is a new column from Rich Cohen, who is out to prove that 1979 was the greatest year in movie history, with a periodic look back at the best of the bunch. Previously: The China Syndrome.

My brother rented Real Life, then left the tape for me to find — like a case of beer, or an issue of Hustler. I slid it into the Magnavox (remember how those chunky tapes would lower when you pressed play, descending like a casket into the cold earth?), sat back, and let myself be remade.

This was Albert Brooks’ first film…


Part of our film-by-film flashback to the cinematic glory of 1979

Credit: Archive Photos / Stringer/Getty Images Plus

The greatest year in the history of American movies was 1979, and I intend to prove it, movie by movie, as we make our way through 2019, the 40th anniversary of that extraordinary season. While it’s true that the best movie ever made (Citizen Kane) came out in 1941, that was a one-timer, a lone traveler, a bird blown off course. Overall quality is what I have in mind, excellence across genres, the kind of groove that rewards regular visits to the multiplex. The year 1979 was the kind of year that turned even the rink rats into cinephiles.

First…

Rich Cohen

Author bestselling books on gangsters, Chicago Cubs and Bears, the Rolling Stones. New book is “The Last Pirate of New York.” Co-Creator of HBO’s Vinyl.

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