Barfly (1987) from Tuna

Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway were cast against type, and performed brilliantly in this slice-of-life film about two barflies. The screenplay was written by poet and author Charles Bukowski, who lived on the streets, and feels true art should be absolutely real. The story is autobiographical, and concerns three days in his life.


Dunaway shows both nipples in a bathing scene, lots of leg in her apartment, and her panty crotch during a cat fight.
As the film opens, we enter a bar, then go out to the alley to see Rourke and the bartender trying to pound each others face in. Rourke is doing it because people think he can't, and because the bartender is a macho asshole, who treats all of his customers as if they were scum. Rourke loses badly, and is left unconscious on the sidewalk. The next day, he goes back to the bar and kicks the crap out of the bartender. He then stops in another bar to celebrate the victory, and spots Dunaway at the end of the bar sitting alone. He asks the bartender about her, and is told that people leave her alone because she is crazy. That is high praise as far as Rourke is concerned, so he heads over, and spends his last two dollars buying them a drink. When she learns he is broke, she takes him home.  He learns that she is every bit as much a barfly as he is. She informs him that if a man came to her with a fifth, she would probably go home with him, and that she makes bad decisions when she drinks.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Commentary by Barbet Schroeder

  • All-New Digital Transfer - beautiful quality

  • Making of Featurette

  • Widescreen anamorphic format, 1.85:1

Rourke moves in with Dunaway to save rent. Along the way, we see him do a little writing, and discover that some upper class woman has hired a PI to find him. His life gets more complicated when she finds him, and turns out to own a literary magazine. She wants to pay him for a short story, and takes him home to bed.

The film is perfectly bookended when we see Rourke enter the same bar from the opening scene, but this time with Dunaway. The magazine owner comes in, and we are treated to a terrific cat fight.

As in real life, there is no redemption here. They start the film drunks, and end the film drunks, although, for the moment, they are drinking together. 

The Critics Vote

  • Ebert 4/4


The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: a financial disaster, grossing only $3 million in the USA.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Great movie of its type - niche audience picture, not for everyone.

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