Film / The Wanderers

The Wanderers is a 1979 comedy-drama film, directed by Philip Kaufman and adapted from a novel of the same name by Richard Price, that centers on the members of a Bronx youth gang in 1963, and their interactions with the other local gangs.

At school, a high school teacher accidentally sparks a race riot between the Italian gang the Wanderers and the Black gang the Del-Bombers. Looking to gather allies to their fight as the Del-Bombers have bigger numbers, The Wanderers get rejected (humiliatingly) by the Fordham Baldies and by the Chinese Wongs. But they do get a new member with the arrival of bulky Perry, a newcomer to the neighborhood who proves himself in a fight. Just as it looks bleak for the gang, the local mafia hoods led by 'Chubby' Galasso intervene and negotiate to have the rumble changed into a football game.

Features the examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Price's novel is episodic in nature. Director Philip Kaufman and his wife Rose re-wove the narrative into a more coherent plot.
  • Big Bad: The Ducky Boys. They're the one street gang willing to kill.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Richie came back to the Wanderers in time to help out with the football game, and with the fight against the Ducky Boys. While re-affirming his friendship with Joey, they still end up parting ways as Joey flees to California with Perry to escape Joey's Ax-Crazy father. Richie stays to marry his knocked-up girlfriend. And their other friend Turkey was killed by the Ducky Boys. Meanwhile The Baldies are all gone serving in Vietnam, the life of being in a street gang is getting more violent, and the feeling of New York City changing for the worse heading into The '60s and The '70s hovers over the ending.
  • Dirty Coward: The Wanderers and Del-Bombers who split before the fight with the Ducky Boys. Averted by members of the Wongs, who join in with the remaining Wanderers and Del-Bombers even when it wasn't their fight.
  • Dueling Movies: With The Warriors, believe it or not.
  • Precision F-Strike: Don't fuck with the Baldies/Wongs.
  • The Mafia: Richie's father-in-law.
    • The gang fight between the Wanderers and Del-Bombers get taken over by both the Italian and Black mafias and turned into a football match that the mobsters could bet over.
    • At the end of the movie, it's obvious that Richie is getting too old to be with the Wanderers and will promote upward into his father-in-law's gang.
  • The '60s: The movie takes place in 1963, as the culture of The '50s gives way to this one. Towards the end of the film, John F. Kennedy is assassinated, the Baldies all drunkenly signed up for Vietnam, and Richie watches as the proto-hippie girl he liked leaves him to go watch some new folk singer named Bob Dylan perform. The movie itself ends with Joey and Perry fleeing for California in the footsteps of Joey's favorite author Jack Kerouac.