The Thatcher Crisis Years

1980s politics blog from TV historian Tony McMahon

In early 1979, I left the ABC cinema in South Woodford thrilled to bits. I’d watched an American movie called The Warriors in which a gang must return to their base in Coney Island having been wrongly framed for a murder. Every other gang in New York is after them. It’s the ultimate chase nightmare and at the time, freaked us out.

In the US, real gangs went to the cinemas cheering on particular fictional gangs on screen they’d decided to root for. There was a real fear that the movie would spark off gang warfare in the country’s already fragile cities. You have to remember that at the time, New York had gone financially bust and large parts of the inner suburbs were a wasteland.

The New Musical Express reported on the ‘year of the gang flick’ in the US and now it’s hard to believe the movie caused such a fuss. But it did. There was some outrage in the UK when our mild mannered film censor James Ferman decided to let the film go to cinema screens uncut. His view was that it was no worse than Clockwork Orange.

The Furies, the High Hats, the Grammercy Riffs, the Boppers and the Warriors. “Can you dig it?”

How the NME captured The Warriors

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