Rumble Fish

Teenager Rusty James has always idolised his older brother, who left Tulsa after violent clashes between youth gangs. When Rusty himself faces off against a rival gang leader, his missing brother, known only as Motorcycle Boy, suddenly reappears. But he is not the man Rusty believed him to be. He draws the younger boy an unsparing picture of their family misery – drunkard father, runaway mother – and the futility of gangs and street fighting. When the two meet up in a pet store, Motorcycle Boy takes the Siamese fighting fish as a symbol of the self-destructive impulses of youth, although he once again gets drawn into the gang brawls … Shot in retro black-and-white in an allusion to Rusty’s brother’s colour-blindness, Rumble Fish is a round-up of the types, gestures, and codes familiar from the history of American teen films – white tank tops, pocket combs, Triumph bikes. Not least with the artfully choreographed fight scenes, the demeanour of the marginalised young people achieved modern pop culture appeal. With genre veteran Dennis Hopper as the father, a generational link was forged with the young Hollywood stars including Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, and Nicolas Cage.
by Francis Ford Coppola
with Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Vincent Spano, Diane Lane, Diana Scarwid, Dennis Hopper, Nicolas Cage, Christopher Penn, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Waits, Sofia Coppola
USA 1983 English 94’ Black/White & Colour DCP: NBC Universal, London Rating R16

For the 2023 Retrospective, internationally renowned directors, actors, and screenwriters were asked to select their personal coming-of-age favourites.
Ethan Hawke on his selection


  • Matt Dillon
  • Mickey Rourke
  • Vincent Spano
  • Diane Lane
  • Diana Scarwid
  • Dennis Hopper
  • Nicolas Cage
  • Christopher Penn
  • Laurence Fishburne
  • Tom Waits
  • Sofia Coppola


Director Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay S. E. Hinton, Francis Ford Coppola based on the book by S. E. Hinton
Cinematography Stephen H. Burum
Editing Barry Malkin
Music Stewart Copeland
Sound Richard Beggs
Art Director Dean Tavoularis
Costumes Marge Bowers
Make-Up Tim McNally, Jeff Kennemore
Producers Fred Roos, Doug Claybourne
Executive Producer Francis Ford Coppola
Associate Producers Gian-Carlo Coppola, Roman Coppola

Produced by

Hot Weather Films

Additional information

DCP: NBC Universal, London