Avril Brown breaks down “Fort Apache, The Bronx”


Paul Newman stars as Murphy.

My friend and colleague Avril Brown has a new column at Comics Waiting Room, breaking down three pieces of cinematic storytelling to which she recently grew acquainted. One of those three is a 1981 film starring Paul Newman called Fort Apache, The Bronx. Av and I watched this flick together on Sunday, and were both blown away by its bizarre humor, legit humor, startling violence, ethnic exploitation, on-point social commentary, and really wonderful performances from Newman and Rachel Ticotin.

Oh, I didn’t mention that Rachel “The Athletic, Sleezy, and Demure Brunette” Ticotin was here? Or Danny Aiello, Ed Asner, and Pam Grier? Or that Paul Newman disarms a crazed, knife-wielding man by doing a silly dance with a backwards hat? It’s all here…

Anyhow, Av has written about Fort Apache, and I have reprinted her write-up here. To see her reviews of Let the Right One In and Betty White’s hosting stint on SNL, click here.

My own take on Fort Apache will be here tomorrow at noon…

From Comics Waiting Room

Rogue Element 53, by Avril Brown

WARNING!!! Spoilers Alert!

Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981)
Have you ever heard of Paul Newman? Stupid question. Have you ever heard of/seen ‘Fort Apache, The Bronx?’ Probably not. For some reason which escapes me, this cinematic gem is not a title which comes to mind when people speak of Paul Newman’s most iconic roles, barely even garnering a mention in his Wikipedia profile, for god’s sake. The only reason I knew about this movie in the first place is because it has been sitting on my shelf for almost five years, having once belonged to my sister who gifted it to me when she moved out to get married or something, and having finally seen it I find it a crime against nature how long this fantastic film has remained in my possession yet unwatched. My friend Jack recently came over for a movie night, and while surfing through my stuff he found ‘Fort Apache.’ Upon hearing it starred Paul Newman and I had yet to see it, he would brook no arguments and into the DVD player it went. Neither one of us expected to be as thoroughly entertained as we were, at times rewinding to watch brilliant scenes for a second time, scrunching our brows over the piecemeal plot progression and gasping at the unexpected brutality. Those who grew up watching films from the sixties on up may not blink at the funky film structure, but younger generations who are used to a standard format of, say, ‘Good guy meets bad guy, they have a fight, good guy wins the war and gets the girl’ are in for a shock. And the ending, oh the ending…not only was it the perfect conclusion to such a random film, but Jack had called it only minutes before it happened. “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if it ended with some sort of freeze frame action shot?” he postulated. One and a half minutes later the camera freezes with our heroes in mid-jump about to apprehend a sprightly thief who had been popping up like a Whack-a-Mole throughout the film. We laughed until we cried. Jack’s take on ‘Fort Apache’ can be found soon at his blog.


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