The Wanderers

1979

The Wanderers

Critics Consensus

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89%

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Total Count: 18

87%

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User Ratings: 7,090
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Movie Info

The year 1979 saw an epidemic of American street-gang films, including Phil Kaufman's hit period drama The Wanderers. Set in the Bronx in 1963, the film concerns the titular gang of Italian-American teens and their ongoing power struggle with the rival "Fordham Baldies." Richard Price, upon whose novel this film was based, drew from his own experiences to weave his tale. Essentially a series of anecdotes-some tension-filled, some amusing -- The Wanderers climaxes on the occasion of the J.F.K. assassination, which for Price and hundreds and thousands of his aimless contemporaries served as a wake-up call. Viewed from the vantage point of the 1990s, one would wish that the current street gangs be shocked into adulthood with such suddenness (though not through the same tragic means). Ken Wahl, Karen Allen, and Linda Manz are among the standout performers in this richly detailed period piece. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast

Ken Wahl
as Richie
Toni Kalem
as Despie Galasso
Linda Manz
as Peewee
Val Avery
as Mr. Sharp
Dolph Sweet
as Chubby Galasso
Burtt Harris
as Marine Recruiter
Dion Albanese
as Teddy Wong
Olympia Dukakis
as Joey's Mom
George Merolle
as Peppy Dio
Terri Perri
as Terri Perri
John Califano
as Bowling Bankroller
Richard Price
as Bowling Bankroller
Linda Artuso
as Buddy's Woman
Rafael Cabrera
as Del Bomber
Lorna Erickson
as Gloria Galasso
Ken Foree
as Sportsman
Frank Ferrara
as Wanderer
Sally Anne Golden
as Crying Woman
Adam Kimmel
as Folk Singer
Tara King
as Pretty Girl
Faith Minton
as Big Lady
Sheryl Posner
as Despie's Girlfriend
Bert Samuel
as Mau Mau
Konrad Sheehan
as Ducky Boy
Harry Benjamin
as Pharoah Leader
Alan Braunstein
as Ducky Boy Leader
Mark Lesly
as Ducky Boy #2
Anthony Tirico
as Executioner Leader
View All

Critic Reviews for The Wanderers

All Critics (18) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for The Wanderers

  • Aug 07, 2010
    Great film. Both funny and touching. A hidden classic that everyone should see. This film is about my neighborhood (The Bronx, NYC) in 1963. My father was even a student to one of the (real)teachers in this movie. Anyways, it's an excellent film. It's about gangs (not "gangsters" - but street punks), and focuses particularly on "The Wanderers", an Italian gang with a reputation to uphold. They're all stand up guys, not the kind of thugs who rob and kill...they all go to the same high school, they're respectful to the ladies (or atleast try very hard to be), and most importantly they understand the significance of true friendship and loyalty - and whatever they haven't leanred yet, they will along the way. There are, however, a few gangs who are not as peaceful and can be very, very dangerous (mostly the "Ducky Boys" - who are notorious for using weapons in battle). They'll go for the kill without even thinking twice. And their pale as shit too! Even their turf looks like something out of a horror film. Kind of creepy, with their zombie-like ways. They become the biggest threat to the Wanderers, as well as other street gangs. The Wanderers have other rivals too, such as the "Fordham Baldies" (which is based on an actual gang from Fordham Rd, and in reality, weren't actually bald). The Wanderers (who are mostly shit-talkers) fear them and are constantly looking over their shoulders. Things get even worse for the gang when their friend Turkey has a midlife crisis and decides he's better off with the Baldies. Turkey shaves his head, wears the jacket - the whole nine. He feels the Fordham Baldies can provide a better future for him -- as quoted by Turkey when confronted by his friend Joey, "I'm thinking about the future Joey". It's an ignorant state of mind Turkey's in, and like many teenagers, he craves acceptance, but is confused on exactly where it is he fits in. As both stand there arguing, right across from the Baldies, Joey (always the loudmouth) provokes the girlfriend of "Terror" (who is the leader of the Baldies), consequently causing a beef in which a chase ensues through the alleyways of Fordham Rd. The Wanderers are fast, but not that fast. They get cornered by the Baldies from all sides, but just before there is any bloodshed we hear the heroic, deep voice speak the words, "Leave...the kid...alone." There stands Perry - a big and strong Italian boy, new to the neighborhood. After beating the Baldies to a pulp, The Wanderers take Perry under their wing and show him the ropes (this group needs a strong muscle). Perry also enrolls in their high school, in which race is an issue. The students occupy their school days making fun of other races, calling each other names, spitting out racial slurs. Every different nationality has it's own gang - The Wanderers: An all-Italian gang comprising 27 members. They wear bright yellow/brown jackets and blue jeans. Their leader, Richie, is dating Despie Galasso, the daughter of an infamous mobster, so The Wanderers have connections. Richie is also best friends with Joey. Del Bombers: They are the toughest all-black gang in the Bronx. They have 23 members, and are prejudiced against Italians. They wear purple and gold hoodies with "DB" written in Old English lettering on the back. Their leader is Clinton Stitch. - The Del Bombers and The Wanderers are always at each others throats. But it's not so much a deadly threat for they both have an understanding, with safe, specific rules (most importantly, no weapons). It would be a clean fight. Man to man...or more like men to men. Even their confrontation in the classroom at the beginning of the film, when they were battling each other verbally. It seemed like they were having more fun than actually getting angry. You'll be laughing your ass off with them too. That whole classroom scene is fu*king hilarious. Both sides deliver a very comical, genius moment and it doesn't end there. Then you have... The Wongs: As their name suggests, they are all Chinese, and have the last name "Wong". There are 27 members, and every single one of them knows jujutsu. Their leader is Teddy Wong. They wear black hoodies with a hanzi (Chinese character) on the back. They all appear to be quite stealthy as during a meeting in an open field they appear to vanish as the Wanderers momentarily turn their heads. Their motto is "Don't Fuck with the Wongs". They all have dragon tattoos. - Their relationship with The Wanderers is funny as hell too. When The Wanderers have their little meeting in the park the Wongs come off like nocturnal ninja assassins who could dodge bullets and hear a dog fart a mile away in the middle of a thunderstorm. They act like superhumans from a Matrix film. It's hilarious. I'm not sure which race the Baldies fall into. All I know is that they have shaved heads, wear leather jackets with a skull on the back, and seemed to be high school dropouts. <a href="http://s294.photobucket.com/albums/mm89/JDHallowEEn/HorrorQf/?action=view¤t=Wanderers1.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i294.photobucket.com/albums/mm89/JDHallowEEn/HorrorQf/Wanderers1.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a> The rest of the movie deals with getting chicks, partying, and street fighting. It's like American Graffiti meets West Side Story. It's warmhearted for the most part, and fun along the way, but it still manages to capture the truth. You'll laugh, you'll cheer, or you may even cry(hey, you never know). And being that it's undertone is about friendship and loyalty, it's a movie I'm sure we can all relate to in some way. -- Solid performances and GREAT soundtrack. But best of all is definitely the final brawl on the football field with the Ducky Boys. Priceless moment! A must see. <a href="http://s294.photobucket.com/albums/mm89/JDHallowEEn/HorrorQf/?action=view¤t=wanderers_4.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i294.photobucket.com/albums/mm89/JDHallowEEn/HorrorQf/wanderers_4.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
    jd c Super Reviewer
  • Sep 16, 2009
    If the Warriors was made more like American Graffiti, you would have the Wanderers. Although not as good as Graffiti or Diner, it's like a younger cousin to those films... lots of nostalgia for the time period (early 60's). It does have its issues, but it's the kind of film you sort of root for, so you ignore the problems and just enjoy. Ken Wahl is surprisingly charismatic, and this film is further evidence that Karen Allen was one of the most beautiful "girl next door" actresses put on film.
    Grifty G Super Reviewer
  • Sep 04, 2009
    Phillip Kaufman throws out a interesting film that is American Graffiti on crack. Great cast(Ken Wahl is a standout) in a story about rival gangs, dysfunctional families, young love,football, bowling, and last but not least Zombie like gangs. That is the problem I had with this film,it's all over the place. All of the stories and characters are interesting, but lack a flow. One minute it concentrates on one person then he becomes secondary and then he is the lead again. I do like the idea of the transition from the 50's to the 60's and how most of the characters just don't see it coming,but it is too disjointed. Then their is the Zombie like gang in Brooklyn, who are fascinating, but it becomes a horror film in a coming of age story and it's just strange as hell. Worth a watch,but be prepared for a uneven story with the strangest football game finale in movie history.
    cody f Super Reviewer
  • Jan 01, 2009
    I probably get more of a kick out of this movie than most, owing to the fact that my dad really was a ducky boy when he was a kid, a friend of his was in the Fordham Baldies, and it all takes place around my old neighborhood in The Bronx, but even without the personal references, this is a great movie about New York in the early 60s, based on an even better book.
    Shane D Super Reviewer

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