'The Warriors' Reunion

Sunday, 9pm

Michael Beck
Michael Beck

Actor Michael Beck's quietly seething turn as Coney Island gang leader Swan in Walter Hill's 1979 The Warriors might not have won any Oscars, but it did raise a red flag to an exasperated city officialdom that had been seeing the metropolis through some of its worst years ever. Twenty-five years later, Hill's gangbanging urban nightmare borders on the kitschy – those costumes! that hair! – but the film, as well as Beck's stiletto-sharp performance, has defied the odds and gone on to become a genuine classic of the genre. No less than Elvis Mitchell sang its praises on NPR in honor of the film's 20th anniversary, saying, "It really set a template for a type of action picture: spare and lean and very much in the European, almost existentialist tradition." We spoke with Beck about the film and the dangers of playing gangster in a time and place where the real McCoy could turn up at any moment (minus the baseball jerseys, of course).

Austin Chronicle: There's a lot going on this weekend that people are excited about, but everyone we've spoken to has been most ecstatic about The Warriors reunion – it's almost as if the film were being released for the first time.

Michael Beck: I meet people my son's age – he's in his early 20s – who tell me that it's their favorite movie, and I think, you weren't even born when it came out, how can it be your favorite movie? But it's got a life of its own, which is kind of cool.

AC: Do you attribute that to anything special, apart from the obvious fact that it's flat-out one of the coolest films ever made?

MB: Well, I think that it's still an exciting movie both visually – because of the way Walter shot it and all the colors and images of all the surrealistic gangs – and because it's still an old-fashioned cowboy movie, basically, with the cavalry coming to the rescue in the end, and I think that genre still works. Why it's become a cult movie, though, I have no idea.

AC: It's been 25 years now since The Warriors – what are you up to these days?

MB: I'm in the middle of writing a novel, actually. I've written some screenplays, but this is my first novel. It's something I've wanted to do for 10, 15 years. I'm just really looking forward to coming back to Austin – I've been at the Alamo before, for Xanadu – and I really love what Tim and Karrie have done with the Drafthouse and how imaginative they are with the events they put on. It's just a great idea.

  • More of the Story

  • Come Out and Play

    Has Austin – or anywhere else – ever seen anything like Cinemania weekend?
  • Sebadoh

    An interview with Lou Barlow

    'Foxy Brown'

    An interview with Antonio Fargas
READ MORE
More Screens Reviews
SXSW Film
SXSW Film Reviews: 'Hey Bartender'
Daily Reviews and Interviews

Andy Campbell, March 15, 2013

SXSW Film
SXSW Film Reviews: 'When Angels Sing'
Daily Reviews and Interviews

Amy Smith, March 15, 2013

More by Marc Savlov
The Snowman
Jo Nesbø's crime series hits the big screen

Oct. 20, 2017

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
Account of the informant who brought down Nixon's administration

Oct. 20, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Michael Beck at Cinemania, The Warriors, Michael Beck, Cinemania Weekend, Walter Hill

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)