Hollywood’s Greatest Year: Remembering When ‘The Warriors’ Came Out to Play
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. When the Greeks reached the coast, they exulted, “The sea. The sea.” This climactic moment is paralleled in the film a couple millennia later: “When we see the ocean,” notes the leader of the Coney Island Warriors when they reach the Stillwell Avenue subway stop after their own treacherous odyssey through foreign territory, “we figure we’re home.”
“I had conceived of the idea almost as a joke when I was in college,’’ Yurick said later. “I remember saying, ‘How about a gang epic based on the Anabasis?’”
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