Teenage Wasteland

Over the Edge (1979), Matt Dillon, etc

I’m not sure how I didn’t get around to seeing Over the Edge until now. (Holy crap, the whole movie is posted on Youtube in 10 parts!) I was totally in this movie’s target demographic at the time it was made. My family Christmas card in 1977 shows me wearing a Yes belt buckle just like the lead’s Boston belt buckle. I was angry, I hated the ‘burbs, and I was making the transition from Yes, Neil Young, Heart, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Aerosmith to The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and X. Even though the film got bad distribution (fear of teen violence), I understand it was an HBO staple through the late 80s and 90s. Hm, I still don’t have cable.

Matt Dillon was incredibly lucky to be plucked out of high school for this, his first movie. I never took him seriously as an actor until Factotum, because he pretty much plays himself (or else his personal meld of Rocky Balboa and The Fonz as the filmmakers put it). While he doesn’t actually say the line, “I’m Richie White — I’m on probation” has always been Dillon’s core film persona. The other one is the Drugstore Cowboy/barfly which isn’t that different.

Over the Edge (1979), partying in the park

Some of the best scenes are the kids hanging out. In this scene, they’re chugging Cribari which is a wine most associated with what the Catholic church uses for communion. Maybe one of the kids is an altar boy and he stole the wine from church. I served as an altar boy once just to push the buttons that rang the bells for the Eucharist. My first buzzes involved my Dad’s PBR and Miller High Life. I didn’t really get into wine or liquor until college.

One of the filmmakers notes in the commentary that for kids in some suburbs, there aren’t any buildings (or strip malls) older than them so they have no sense of history. While I grew up in a much older suburb, there is relatively little in Southern California older than my parents. (My father grew up in Los Angeles.) I definitely had friends and relatives who lived in the ticky tack. This is one of the reasons I ended up in New York. I like being around really old things.

This film seems to mark a clear distinction between darker teen films such as those later made by Larry Clark and the lighter John Hughes variety where the teen genre is about the more ubiquitous battles between freaks, jocks, nerds, and geeks.

I was listening to this stuff. Post your tunes in the comments if you dare. Three tunes max. (I will post about grooveshark. Hm, it’s weird.)

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