Aint Got No Time For Corner Boys, Part II-Mickey Rourke’s “Diner” (1982)-A Film Review
By Sam Lowell
Diner, starring Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg, Ellen Barkin, 1982
Hey, around my way, around my growing up working class neighborhood out in Riverdale about forty miles west of Boston in the early 1960s they called them, we called ourselves, corner boys (which would be immortalized in Bruce Springsteen’s song, Jersey Girl, with the line. “aint got no time for corner boys down in the street making all that noise” and that was the truth-the “making all that noise” part). Corner boys: those without much dough, those without a weekend date and no money for a weekend date even if a guy got lucky enough to draw some female companionship, someone who didn’t care about a “boss” car to sit up front in and would accept the bus as a mode of transportation and thus seldom lucky, hung around blessed Tonio’s Pizza Parlor “up the Down” (the corner of Adams and Jefferson Streets) and, well, hung out. Hung out trying to do the best we could and if defeated then there was always a couple of slices of Tonio’s secret formula pizza sauce to die for delight and a small Coke. Hung around in late high school planning larcenies great and small (great the theft of some young woman’s virtue, small the midnight creeps through back doors but maybe no more should be mentioned since perhaps the statute of limitations has not run out.
So when I saw the film under review, Diner, with a cast of up and coming actors who all went on to other films and saw that they were six guys, count ‘em six, who in 1959 in the great city of Baltimore hung around a diner talking the talk in between bites of French fries and gravy (our pizza slices) I knew that they were kindred spirits. Knew that despite the several years different in time since they were all twenty-something gathering together for a wedding of one of their members around Christmas time they were from the same species. And as the film unwound that proved to be the case.
Here’s the plot. Wait a minute while this the place where I usually give a few lines of summary about what was what in the film this one is not driven by a plot but by the slice of life scenes of a bunch of guys who still have some growing up to do. Scenes such as one guy fake smashing up his car complete with a ketchup injury just to fake his fellows out; the classic trying to “cope a feel” from the best looking “ice queen” in town at the movies (moves I have to confess are more seemly among the middle schoolers today and even my corner boys would sneer at a guy who was into that silliness at twenty-something); guys getting into dough trouble with the constant need to bet on any and all propositions (our most famous one which I lost and am still ticked off about that I even made the bet was how high Tonio could throw the pizza dough in making the crust); guys with girl trouble from the dreaded pregnancy problem in a pre-“Pill” world, marriage issues (which we were too young to worry about in high school the high tide of my particular corner boy existence); and the endless discussions about sports (here a guy quizzed his fiancée on football before he decide he could marry her-ouch!), girls, life on the edge, the future and double-down on girls.
Yes that all looked very, very familiar to these old eyes. The difference? These guys stuck together well into their twenties. By twenty most of my guys were in the military, married, in jail, or on the run. The fate of plenty of real life corner boys making all that noise. See this one.