The phrase "cult classic" could have been coined to describe Walter Hill's The Warriors. Indeed, Hill's iconic tale of gangland violence and territorial toughness has only grown in popularity since its release in 1979. When it came out, the film failed to recoup its budget, earning roughly $3.5 million against a $4 million budget.
However, with the advent of home video and revival screenings, the film has gone on to gross more than $22 million in the U.S. alone. But even the biggest fans must have missed certain details. As the film celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, here are 10 Things You Never Noticed From The Warriors!
10 Alternate TV Opening
Did you ever notice that a different version of The Warriors aired on TV back in the day? To extend the run time and make way for advertising, an alternate opening scene of the film was added, which drastically changed the tone of the film. Instead of taking place at night like the theatrical cut, the alternate opening takes place on Coney Island in the daytime as The Warriors gang is introduced.
A much longer introduction to gang-leader Cleon is given before heading to the Bronx to battle.
9 Marilyn Manson Lookalike
During the iconic parkland battle between The Warriors and The Baseball Furies, a gang member resembling Marilyn Manson appears. Walter Hill reportedly created this gang out of his love for the rock band KISS and his lifelong love of baseball, but who could have known the character would, in turn, inspire one of the most famous Gothic rockers of all time?
The actor who played the Manson lookalike Fury, Jery Hewitt, made his screen debut in The Warriors before becoming a full-time stuntman. Interestingly, Hewitt also starred in the other major 1979 gang film, The Wanderers.
8 Broken Ribs
Speaking of the battle between The Warriors and The Furies, actor Michael Beck struck a stuntman so hard during their fight that he accidentally broke three of the man's ribs. If you look closely, you can see the Fury's authentic reaction when he's hit in the midriff.
The scene occurs right after the Marilyn Manson lookalike appears, as Swan (Beck) engages with a red-faced Fury. A tussle ensues before Swan slams a baseball bat plum in the Fury's gut, resulting in a serious onscreen injury. The kicker? Beck didn't hear about the injury until 37 years later during a reunion event.
Part of the allure of The Warriors is the use of gritty, real location on the streets of New York City. But if you look closely, there are two locations in the film that stand out for being fake. When Cyrus gives his rousing speech at the beginning of the film, the location supposedly resides in the North Bronx.
However, native New Yorkers can tell you that the scene was shot in Riverside Park on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Additionally, if you pay close attention to the fight scene inside the subway-station bathroom, you may notice it's an artificial set rather than a real location.
If you've never seen Walter Hill's Director's Cut of The Warriors, you may have never noticed the film is based in part on the ancient Greek tome Anabasis by Xenophon. The character of Cyrus in the film is named after the Greek general Cyrus the Younger, who enlisted mercenaries to usurp the throne of Persia around 401 BC. In the film, the Warriors get trapped behind enemy lines just like the Greeks did during the Battle of Cunaxa.
This inspirational story-line is explained on the short animated prologue featured in the Director's Cut.
5 Cleon's Fate
Great debate has continued over what happens to the character of Cleon in The Warriors, one of the de-facto ring-leaders of the titular gang. While many fans either insist or want to believe he survived a ruthless beating at the hands of the Gramercy Riffs in the beginning of the film, it has been confirmed by Hill and others that Cleon does indeed die during this sequence.
Cleon's demise is easy to miss, as he is beaten to death off-screen during a chaotic melee that pulls your eyes in every direction, but the sad truth remains. RIP Cleon!
4 Real Gang Members
To be as authentic as possible, Walter Hill wanted to use real-life gang members in The Warriors. The character of Cyrus was originally cast with a gang-member but he suddenly vanished the night before filming commenced.
However, during the infamous fight that takes place at the Van Cortlandt Park conclave, real NYC gang-members were used as a kind gesture for filming on their territory. As a precaution, the NYPD planted the background extras with undercover cops to make sure the real gang members remained in check.
3 Mercy's Hidden Injuries
Filming The Warriors was so physically demanding that actress Deborah Van Valkenburgh, who played Mercy, sustained two major injuries that were captured onscreen. In one shot, actor Michael Beck accidentally hit Deborah in the face with a baseball bat, necessitating immediate stitches at the hospital.
During the subway evasion scene, Deborah was accidentally dropped to the floor by a stuntman, resulting in a broken wrist. If you look closely, Mercy wears a black jacket for the rest of the film to hide the cast on her arm.
2 Two Different Actors Played Fox
Have you ever caught wind of the fact two different actors portray the character of Fox? Reportedly, the actor who played Fox for most of the film, Thomas G. Waites, became too difficult to work with when it was discovered he repeatedly left the set to get high.
Hill and stunt coordinator Craig Baxley decided to fire Waites but opted to film the death of Fox anyway. A passable lookalike was plucked from the crew and strapped to the subway tracks from behind so to make it look as if Waites (as Fox) was fatally run over.
1 Walter Hill's Cameo
Are you one of the infinitesimal few who happened to spot director Walter Hill's cameo in The Warriors? Thought not! First, you'd have to know what Hill looked like in 1979. Secondly, you'd have to know where to look.
But for all you Warriors trivia buffs, Hill can be spotted during a sequence in the middle of the movie where the Warriors are being chased through the subway terminal by the police. Hill is wearing a light blue sweater and flat-cap with a bushy beard.