There’s even a scene towards the end of The Warriors where Swan and Mercy share a subway train with a group of people the same age, dressed in suits and dresses, wearing corsages, returning home from their prom. Then, when Swan (Michael Beck) and Mercy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) make their way into Coney Island, both are envisioning a future away from New York and the environment that they’ve been brought up in.
“It’s easy to forget that the characters are teenagers. This is a reminder of how old they actually are and that the life they are living is due to various circumstances – their financial situation, how they were raised, and any number of other factors,” says Bailey.
The Warriors might have initially been met with scepticism by critics, but crowds flocked to see it. It ultimately grossed $22.5 million from a $4 million budget. But some screenings were beset with violence, and three killings were linked to patrons who had either seen or were about to see the movie. Paramount wound down its release, and after it left cinemas its popularity subsided.
But different generations just kept on returning to The Warriors, perhaps attracted to Hill’s virtuoso filmmaking and ability to make such a simple story so evocative, or the film’s non-judgemental depiction of gangs and youthful rebellion. Or, maybe, viewers just want to romanticise how dangerous and gritty New York was in the 1970s, especially when compared with how safe and sanitised it is now. Whatever the reason, 45 years after the film’s release, New York’s evolution into the wealthiest city in the world means that the fascination with The Warriors, its story, and its characters is only destined to grow for many more years to come.
If you liked this story, sign up for The Essential List newsletter – a handpicked selection of features, videos and can’t-miss news delivered to your inbox every Friday.