Streets of Fire; Directed by Walter Hill; Written by Walter Hill and Larry Gross; Universal.

Streets of Fire has what is either a subtitle or a disclaimer: A Rock Roll Fable. Moreover, as the movie opens, a title on the screen advises the viewer that he’s viewing “Another Time, Another Place … ,” which, of course, provides the director, Walter Hill, with an out: he can claim that any and all rules of reason and good taste can be violated at will because the presentation is, after all, a complete fabrication. If that is the case, then it might be suggested that only mortal flesh is too weak to hold up under the audio-visual onslaught of banality and noise. Streets of Fire aspires to be a “cult film,” that is,one that ordinary people stay away from in droves but which others go see again and again and again, usually at midnight on a Friday or Saturday, by which time their senses are naturally or artificially numb. The term cult film doesn’t provide anaccurate sense of the makeup of the viewers; the term should be modified with descrip­tive terms that indicate that the atten­dees tend to be more than slightly masochistic. And one must be so to think anything nice about Streets of Fire. The dialogue makes Mickey Spillane seem like Proust; the acting makes cigar-store Indians seem to have the flexibility of a Garrick or Kean. The most disturbing part about Streets of Fire is not any thing in the film itself, but something that it may portend: should more films like it be made, eventually society is going to sink to a level where at Streets of Fire makes sense.