Original film poster
|Directed by||Fritz Kiersch|
|Produced by||Donald P. Borchers|
|Written by||Greg Collins O'Neill
Robert Downey, Jr.
|Music by||Jonathan Elias|
|Edited by||Marc Grossman|
|Distributed by||New World Pictures|
|Release dates||January 11, 1985|
|Running time||112 min.|
In Tuff Turf, directed by Fritz Kiersch, Morgan (Spader) is a troubled teenager from Connecticut who relocates to Los Angeles with his parents after his father's business goes under. Morgan struggles to make friends, and trouble ensues when Morgan pursues Frankie (Richards), whose boyfriend Nick (Mones) is the leader of a local gang. Morgan soon finds pursuing Frankie comes with consequences. Morgan learns some valuable, hard lessons, and finds out how far he is really willing to go for Frankie's love. Ultimately, Morgan must face Nick and his gang to test the bounds of his honor, and his love for Frankie.
The film begins at night with Morgan exploring the streets of his new neighborhood on his bicycle. On a local street in Reseda, California, Frankie flirts with a businessman waiting at a bus stop. She asks the man for change, and he pulls out a money clip full of cash to oblige. As they make small talk, Frankie's boyfriend, Nick, and his gang who've been loitering at a nearby newsstand move in to mug the man. While the mugging is taking place, Morgan rides straight through the middle of it on his bicycle and foils the robbery.
The next day is the first day at a new school for Morgan. Nick, still upset about the foiled robbery the night before, notices Morgan as the gang loiters in the school parking lot before class. Morgan goes to the principal's office to register, where the principal informs him that he won't stand for any trouble from him. Jimmy Parker, a drummer in the local band Tail from the Crypt, has already caught word of Nick's intention to get back at Morgan for interfering in his business the night before. Jimmy asks his friend Feather for her blade. In history class, Jimmy is seated behind Morgan and gives Morgan the switchblade, in order to protect himself from Nick.
After school, Jimmy invites Morgan to see his band that night at a warehouse. Morgan then sees Nick Hauser riding his bicycle with Frankie on the handlebars. Morgan goes to get his bike back from the gang in the parking lot. Nick lays the bike down, and Morgan picks it up, but before he can leave, a gang member drives his car straight at Morgan, destroying his bike. Back at home, Morgan argues with his mother after she walks into his room and sees his mangled bike. Frustrated, Morgan leaves to go see Jimmy's band. While on his walk there, he sees a Porsche convertible, with the keys in the ignition, which he drives to the warehouse.
At the warehouse, Morgan hangs out with the band in between sets. He sees Frankie, grabs her and starts dancing with her, asking what her name is. Frankie refuses to say and asks to be let go. Nick and his gang show up at the warehouse and see Frankie dancing with Morgan. Nick and his goons catch Morgan as he tries to get in the Porsche to leave. Nick threatens him not to ever go near Frankie again; they beat Morgan up and take the keys to the Porsche. Jimmy runs outside to find Morgan on the ground and asks if he's alright. As Nick and the gang are tearing up the streets in the Porsche they took from Morgan, they get pulled over and arrested for driving a stolen vehicle and thrown in jail.
The next day, Morgan finds a dead rat in his locker at school, and is confronted by Frankie who tells him his ass is grass when Nick gets out of jail. After school, Morgan is waiting at a bus stop and sees Nick's car. With the car chasing him, he runs down an alley where he is trapped. He tries to jump a fence but falls to the ground. Much to his surprise it is Jimmy who is driving the car. Morgan and Jimmy cruise the streets in Nick's car. They spot Frankie, Ronnie, and Feather at a local burger joint and pull over. Thinking Nick is out of jail, Frankie grabs Ronnie and runs to the car to get in. Morgan, Jimmy and the girls drive around L.A. and through Beverly Hills and sneak into a country club party to have lunch. When the cover band takes a break, Morgan plays piano and sings Frankie a song. Later that night, Frankie takes Morgan to a local club and she shows off her dancing skills. When Nick finds out about the night on the town, he has his goons attack Morgan in the locker room at school the next day. After surviving a brutal beating with padlocks wrapped in towels, Morgan is warned by Nick once again to stay away from Frankie or he'll kill him. That night, Morgan visits Frankie at home and asks her to have dinner at his house. Moments later, Nick bursts into Frankie's room with Frankie's father and a bottle of champagne and exclaims that her dad has said yes when he asked for Frankie's hand in marriage. Her father is happy, but he doesn't know that she never actually said yes.
The following day at school, Morgan confronts Frankie about the engagement, but she tells him she will keep her promise to come to his house for dinner that night. They are overheard by one of Nick's goons. That night, Nick and his gang spy on Morgan and Frankie eating dinner with his parents. The dinner goes bad when Morgan's mom asks about Frankie's mom, who is deceased, and Frankie leaves despite Morgan's pleas that his mother didn't know. Nick and his goons then find Frankie walking down the street and decide to cruise the streets all night. Nick sees Morgan's dad by his cab, and, pretending to be out of gas, he hands Frankie his watch and tells her to ask the cab driver to trade it for some money. Frankie realizes it's Morgan's father, she gets back in the car and tells Nick she can't do it. Realizing what Nick intends to do, Frankie runs back to Morgan's father and urges him to go just as Nick's gang attacks Morgan's father. He beats them down one by one, but Nick pulls a gun and shoots him. Nick and the gang flee, leaving Frankie with Morgan's father bleeding on the sidewalk.
Morgan meets Frankie at the hospital when he comes to see his dad. She breaks down in his arms, and they go back to his house, where they make love as the sun comes up. Later that day, Nick comes into Frankie's father's liquor store. He attacks Frankie, beats up Frankie's father, and makes Frankie call Morgan. Nick tells Morgan to meet him at the warehouse. Morgan goes to Jimmy's house to try and get help, but has to leave a note with Jimmy's brother. Morgan sneaks into the warehouse and slowly takes out Nick's gang one by one. Jimmy shows up with two doberman pinschers, but gets shot in the leg by Nick. Morgan then has a final fight with Nick in order to save Frankie and during the fight, Nick gets hit off the stairs and falls to his death.
During the credits, we see Morgan and Frankie walking into the club they went to before together.
Cast and characters
- James Spader as Morgan Hiller
- Kim Richards as Frankie Croyden
- Paul Mones as Nick Hauser
- Matt Clark as Stuart Hiller
- Claudette Nevins as Page Hiller
- Robert Downey, Jr. as Jimmy Parker
- Olivia Barash as Ronnie
- Catya Sassoon as Feather
- Bill Beyers as Brian Hiller
- Gene Pietragallo as Donnie Parker
- Panchito Gómezas Mickey
- Michael Wyle as Eddie
- Herb Mitchell as Mr. Russell
- Lou Fant as Mr. Croyden
- Donald Fullilove as Howard
- Jered Barclay as Reynolds
- Evonne Kezios as Muffy
- Cheryl Ann Clark as Patty
- Matt Gavin as Alan
- Chad McCann as Troy
- Vivian Brown as History teacher
- Ceil Cabot as Secretary
- Donna Fuller as Nurse
- Rosa Sabina Rodriguez as Nurse in elevator
- Francis X. McCarthy as Man at bus stop
- Art Evans as Security guard
- "Tuff Turf" - Southside Johnny
- "People Who Died" - the Jim Carroll Band
- "Green Onions" - Jack Mack and the Heart Attack
- "Voices" - The Jim Carroll Band
- "So Tuff" - Jack Mack and the Heart Attack
- "Breakin' the Rules (What Do You Do When Opposites Attract)" - Lene Lovich
- "Love Hates" - Marianne Faithfull
- "It's Too Late" - The Jim Carroll Band
- "She's Looking Good" - Jack Mack and the Heart Attack
- "Twist and Shout" - Dale Gonyea with J.R. & the Z-Men
- "We Walk the Night" - Paul Carney dubbed singing voice for James Spader
- "Breakin' the Rules" - Jonathan Elias (1985 VHS/Beta Home Video Version only)
Liner notes from 1985 LP: 
Mastered At– Precision Lacquer, Hollywood CA
Coordinator– Harold Bronson
Design– Grace Amemiya
Mastered By– Stephen Marcussen