Boulevard Nights

Boulevard Nights is a 1979 film directed by Michael Pressman.

Boulevard Nights
VHS cover
Directed byMichael Pressman
Produced byBill Benenson
Written byDesmond Nakano
StarringRichard Yniguez
Danny De La Paz
Marta DuBois
Carmen Zapata
James Victor
Victor Millan
Daniel Zacapa
Music byLalo Schifrin
CinematographyJohn Bailey
Edited byRichard Halsey
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • March 23, 1979 (1979-03-23)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2.5 million[1]
Box office$1.9 million (US rentals)[2][3]

It is about life in East Los Angeles and its street gangs. It concerns two brothers, Raymond (Richard Yniguez) and Chuco (Danny De La Paz). Raymond is 'straight' -- he has a job and is engaged to Shady (Marta DuBois) -- while Chuco is a drug user and gang member who is about to be drawn into a gang war.

It was filmed on location, mostly in East Los Angeles.[1] In 2017, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[4]

Cast

  • Richard Yniguez ... Raymond Avila
  • Danny De La Paz ... Chuco Avila
  • Marta DuBois ... Shady Londeros
  • James Victor ... Gil Moreno
  • Betty Carvalho ... Mrs. Avila
  • Carmen Zapata ... Mrs. Londeros
  • Victor Millan ... Mr. Londeros
  • Gary Cervantes ... Big Happy
  • Daniel Zacapa ... Ernie (as Garret Pearson)
  • Jerado Carmona ... Wolf
  • Jesse Aragon ... Casper
  • Robert Covarrubias ... Toby (as Roberto Covarrubia)
  • Eliseo Estrada ... Hopper
  • Mary McFerren ... Receptionist
  • Dawson Mays ... Jerry Werner
  • Alejandrino Morales ... VGV Gang Member
  • Mario Morales ... VGV Gang Member
  • Javier Morales ... VGV Gang Member

Controversy

Boulevard Nights was one of a number of "gang films" released in 1979, along with The Warriors, Walk Proud, The Wanderers and Over the Edge.[5] Fearing a repeat of the gang violence associated with The Warriors, Warner Bros. and the filmmakers tried to distance themselves from that film by saying that Boulevard Nights was not so much a gang film as a "family story" of two brothers "set in a gang environment."[1] A week before releasing the film, Warner Bros. offered theater owners the option of hiring security at the studio's expense if they felt the need; officially fewer than half a dozen theaters added security.[5] Boulevard Nights was pulled from San Francisco's Alhambra Theatre and an Ontario, California drive-in after incidents of gang-related violence broke out during showings of the film at those locations.[5] The film was also picketed by protesters who said that it negatively stereotyped Mexican Americans as gang members.[1]

Reception

Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "It's a movie that tries to tell us something about life in the Mexican-American neighborhoods of East Los Angeles, and that sometimes succeeds. 'Boulevard Nights' is not altogether successful, though, because the truth of the situation has been cluttered up by a story structure borrowed from umpteen other Hollywood movies about coming of age in a ghetto."[6] Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote the film "is so busy trying to meet the needs of a conventional narrative that it appears to have no point of view about its characters. When we watch them suffer and die in foolish pursuits, the movie is merely sightseeing. With the possible exception of Mr. De La Paz, whose haunted looks suggest someone very troubled, the actors are not very good."[7] Dale Pollock of Variety wrote, "To label 'Boulevard Nights' simply another gang picture because its milieu is the streets of East Los Angeles would be doing the Tony Bill-Bill Benenson production a disservice. Unfortunately, the film fails to carve out a separate identity of its own, rehashing a familiar story about inter-family conflicts."[8] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three stars out of four and wrote that the film had a "quiet power," with Danny De La Paz giving "a memorable performance of a young man lost."[9] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times called it "a modest, earnest, honest, authentic, dramatic and effective drama," adding, "Without much overt sermonizing, Desmond Nakano's script elonquently demonstrates the somber and tragic defeats that violence inflicts on its winners and losers alike ... It's a cycle of revenge as empty and unavailing (and here not so poetic) as it was in 'Romeo and Juliet.'"[10] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post called the film "disappointing, since screenwriter Desmond Nakano falls back on some miserable melodramatic devices to force his material to a showdown. A gang bullet meant for Chuco kills dear little Mrs. Avila on the day of Raymond's wedding. Still, it's a respectable, absorbing sort of movie, even though you have to admit it doesn't work."[11] David Ansen of Newsweek wrote, "The setting and the all-Hispanic cast are fresh; the story is, unfortunately, as old as Hollywood."[12]

The film's domestic take of $1.9 million in rentals was considered a box office failure.[2]

References

  1. "Boulevard Nights - History". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  2. Epstein, Andrew (April 27, 1980). "The Big Thuds of 1979—Films That Flopped, Badly". Los Angeles Times. Calendar, p. 6.
  3. Richard Nowell, Blood Money: A History of the First Teen Slasher Film Cycle Continuum, 2011 p 260
  4. "2017 National Film Registry Is More Than a 'Field of Dreams'". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  5. Schreger, Charles (March 28, 1979). "Gang Movies Stir Controversy". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 14.
  6. Ebert, Roger (May 7, 1979). "Boulevard Nights". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  7. Canby, Vincent (March 23, 1979). "Film: 'Boulevard Nights'". The New York Times. C14.
  8. Pollock, Dale (March 21, 1979). "Film Reviews: Boulevard Nights". Variety. 24.
  9. Siskel, Gene (May 10, 1979). "'Boulevard Nights' an antigang film with quiet power". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 8.
  10. Champlin, Charles (March 23, 1979). "Brothers on the Boulevard". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1.
  11. Arnold, Gary (May 5, 1979). "Boulevard Nights". The Washington Post. B6.
  12. Ansen, David (April 2, 1979). "Ganging Up in the Barrio". Newsweek. 82.
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