sunnyside (1979)

Well, hey! What is this? As a kid from the 70s who thinks he knows everything about the 70s but for sure lived through them all, what is this 70s movie I’ve never seen or hear of? I mean – of course there are thousands but come on – a gritty New York drama about gangs like The Warriors?? One of my favorite movies ever?? With John Travolta right around Saturday Night Fever time?? I love disco! What? Right? Aw – wait – it’s Joey Travolta, John’s older brother and there’s only two gangs and the Travolta gang just wants to rip of the local carnival because they’re charging too much money. Wooomp woomp wamp. But we proceed! Travolta’s gang is throwing a birthday party for his mom… they’re blowing up balloons… there’s trouble at the cake shop… waaaaaaaaammm waammmm wammmmmmm…..

Where did this come from? How are there only two IMDB reviews? Why are there no pictures of this on the internet? How is that one guy NOT Evan Peters from three decades ago? How were cigarettes a dollar a pack? How did they crucify that guy to that brick wall? What? Yeah… This is obviously rated R for violence and language so it’s no TV movie but this is – well I don’t know. Let’s examine.

Joey Travolta is the leader of a gang called The Nightcrawlers. From what I could gather, they mostly go around helping people on their turf. One night he takes his new squeeze out to the carnival on the shore and they get screwed out of winning a prize so he gets together with the other local gang – The Deathwalkers (I think) and they have a parlay much like The Warriors. Instead of a hundred people in a park it’s these two sets of actors in some sort of shithole making noises at each other in the 70s mono-speaker way. Together, they’re going to hit the carnival from two sides, steal their money and prove to them they can’t hustle the community any more. God damn right.

But wouldn’t you just fucking know it – someone brings a gun and someone gets shot and the whole plan is foiled and – yep – here come some hostilities. Someone roughs up a grocer, so someone gets threatened. Someone buys the truck full of cigs so someone gets killed. Someone blows up someone else’s HQ with some dynamite and someone gets crucified in the daylight in front of that grocery store. This is all an 1.5 hour set up for the HUGE ASS gun fight finale that I’m going to bet a million Film Miasma DollarsTM that was filmed in the same dirty alley that the big fight scene in They Live was filmed. Although I think the setting for They Live was California and this was the filthy, rapey, murdery streets of New York City so I’m probably wrong again like always.

Well – whoever made this clip below gets The Win. I encourage you to watch this:

That might really be all you need but, since I must, let’s hit some key points. Joey Travolta: not a lot of acting range in this but I hope he had fun and I hope he enjoyed all of his denim outfits. The gang action: mostly lame until the last 30 minutes or do but it’s no Warriors style cool; mostly some guys in denim running around yelling. The carnival prizes: hideous and frightening. The use of plaid: reasonable although why the one guy wore his blazer while the others wore their denim I didn’t really get. New York City: THIS IS WHY IVE NEVER WANTED TO GO THERE; there’s garbage everywhere, gangs in the streets, killing in plain daylight and people tossing cake stores, fuck that place. Here’s a real summary of a conversation I had when I was working in New Jersey:

Me: my wife has always wanted to go to New York City. maybe I should fly her out here one weekend since I’ll already be here.

D: why not?

Me: I’ve always been afraid I’ll get mugged it shanked.

D: nah. Don’t do any touristy stuff and you’ll be ok. Take a ride on the ferry at sunrise, it’s beautiful, you’ll never see anything else like it.

Me: Isn’t that touristy?

A: just don’t make eye contact with anyone. And don’t talk to anyone. You’ll be fine then.

Me: (thinks – JumpinChrist where am I and what is this place??) got it.

HMMMM – I think it’s time for another picture.

Recognize that fellow? He’s in it – he seems to be the loveable big guy with no brains-dope. But he also fights back so he rules. What else? I can’t really think of much. This movie happened to me when I was clicking Howling 7 out of my watchlist on Amazon and Amazon thought I might like a movie called “High-Ballin'”. Naturally, if something is called High-Ballin’ I’m IN but it has Peter Fonda in it who I’ve never loved but it also has Jerry Reed so – let’s go sometime soon!

I guess that’s it. Here’s the wicked fresh 70s theme song if you’re interested (really – I like it):


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