The history of cinema includes countless films that have remained, for a variety of reasons, in total obscurity. Sadly, many of the films that get ‘lost’ are the ones that really need to be found, and 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s is one such film. Here is a film that has been marooned in an archive for 30 years and, despite a brief educational VHS release in 1985, it has gone largely unseen. Until now.
Inspired by journalist Jon Bradshaw’s Esquire Magazine article, “Savage Skulls,” Gary Weis, a filmmaker for Saturday Night Live, convinced SNL creator Lorne Michaels to help turn the concept into a feature-length documentary. Documenting the everyday activities of two South Bronx street gangs, the Savage Nomads and the Savage Skulls, the film is a glimpse into a different time, when the South Bronx was considered ‘a land of nowhere.’
The 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s DVD is beautifully packaged, housed in a 40-page hard cover book within a slip case. DVD bonus materials include brand new never-before-seen interviews with Weis and director of photography Joan Churchill, while the accompanying book contains all new liner notes and Jon Bradshaw’s “Savage Skulls” article in its entirety.
In recent years, the rich visual history of New York City street culture circa 1979 has come to light, mostly restricted to images only. 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s might be some of the only motion picture footage that exists to describe a culture that has all but vanished. The South Bronx of today is a much different place than it was 30 years ago, a world that has long since vanished. “80 Blocks…” is a compelling and one-of-a-kind look into this time seen through the eyes of those trapped in a domestic warzone.