Rooftops (film)

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Rooftops 1989 film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Wise
Produced byStuart Benjamin
Written byAllan A. Goldstein
Tony Mark
CinematographyTheo van de Sande
Distributed byNew Visions Pictures
Release date
  • March 17, 1989 (1989-03-17)
Running time
95 min.[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,043,889

Rooftops is a 1989 crime and dance drama film directed by Robert Wise, which follows the misadventures of two homeless teenagers in Manhattan.

Rooftops was the last theatrical motion picture directed by Wise and the second of his films about poor young New Yorkers, the first being the famous West Side Story.

Plot summary[edit]

Squeak, the main character's best friend has tagged the wrong place and a local crew of misfits seeks to teach him a lesson. A chase ensues through the streets of New York City, through abandoned buildings and on rooftops. Squeak is finally cornered before his best friend and the film's main hero, T, comes to his rescue. The rest of the film focuses on T and his group of friends, among them a reformed prostitute, a young woman, and a deaf basketball player.

T is famous among the neighbourhood for taking place in a dance called "combat" in which "combatants" attempt to force each other off of a square fighting surface through only intimidation, no contact is allowed. T falls in love with Elana and she reciprocates his feelings. T is also exposed to Capoeira, which he naturally compares to his own fighting style.

The main antagonists are a group of drug dealers who are slowly taking over the city's abandoned buildings, stringing out the local youth and establishing themselves as the law of the streets. Squeak crosses the drug dealers and pays for it with his life. The rest of the movie follows T and his friends quest for redemption at the hands of the drug dealers, and ends in a climactic rooftop battle.


Critical reception[edit]

The film was not well-received by critics. The film has a composite score of 0 (the lowest possible rating) on Rotten Tomatoes.[2] Roger Ebert opined that the film was unrealistic and sugarcoated the grim realities facing homeless teenagers.[3]


The music credits included the title song "Rooftops" performed by Jeffrey Osborne, "Avenue D" performed by Etta James featuring David A. Stewart, and Bullet Proof Heart written and produced by Grace Jones.[4]

Home Media release[edit]

Rooftops was first released on VHS and Laserdisc in 1989 by International Video Entertainment.

Platinum Disc released the film onto DVD in 2002, but the DVD was in full screen and did not contain any bonus material. That DVD has since been discontinued.

The current DVD is a double feature release with A Midsummer's Night Rave.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Rooftops Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2013-02-01. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  3. ^ "Rooftops :: :: Reviews". Roger Ebert. 1989-03-17. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  4. ^ Jet - Mar 27, 1989 - Page 56 Vol. 75, No. 25 Directed by Robert Wise. The many music credits include the title song Rooftops performed by Jeffrey Osborne; Avenue D performed by Etta James featuring David A. Stewart; and Bullet Proof Heart written and produced by Grace Jones and .

External links[edit]