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Rose (LILI TAYLOR) and Eddie (RIVER PHOENIX) are two outsiders drawn to each other in Warner Bros.' film, "DOGFIGHT."
"Dogfight" stars RIVER PHOENIX as Marine Corporal Eddie Birdlace and LILI TAYLOR as Rose Fenney. It is directed by NANCY SAVOCA, whose acclaimed feature debut, "True Love," won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1989 U.S. Film Festival.
About the Story...
"Dogfight" is the story of a cruel game and its unexpected consequences.
It is the summer of 1967 and Eddie Birdlace is on a bus heading for San Francisco. During the ride, he remembers the last time he was there...
In November of 1963, a busload of Marines and sailors are ready to celebrate their last night Stateside. Birdlace and his buddies--Berzin (RICHARD PANEBIANCO), Benjamin (MITCHELL WHITFIELD) and Buele (ANTHONY CLARK)--have organized a "dogfight" to see the Marines off with a bang.
Once in San Francisco, the Marines split up and hit the streets of the city in search of "dates." The guys deliberately avoid the pretty girls. Their aim, of course, is to get a "dog."
Birdlace makes several unsuccessful attempts before he discovers Rose in her mother's cafe. She is a waitress, practicing her guitar during a break. She is painfully shy but Birdlace wins her over and gets her to accept his invitation to the "party," despite a cool reception from Rose's mother, Rose, Sr. (HOLLY NEAR).
On their way to the party, Rose warms up to Eddie. She chatters on as Birdlace politely tries to ignore her. The party spirit is leaving him.
At the "dogfight," Birdlace gets drunk and Rose gets drunker. Berzin wins the contest for the fourth time in a row as a very sick Rose runs for the ladies' room. While there, she overhears Berzin arguing with his date, Marcy (E.G. DAILY), a hooker. It turns out Berzin has paid her to come to the party without her false teeth. They're fighting over Marcy's take of the prize money. After Berzin leaves, Marcy inadvertently tells Rose all about the dogfight.
Sobered up by the news, Rose storms back into the bar and confronts Birdlace. She tells him off in front of everyone and leaves. Birdlace is too drunk to react.
Later that night, Birdlace leaves his friends and goes back to Rose to apologize. He tells her he wants to take her out on a "regular date" to make up for what he's done. The apology is hardly gracious; Birdlace is hung over and bent out of shape by the whole experience. Rose accepts but warns him that if this is another trick, she will kill him.
They end up spending the evening together, walking around the city and finding out about each other. It becomes several months' worth of "relationship" packed into one night. Rose tells Eddie that her ambition is to be a folksinger, while his is to go to Vietnam, where the earliest rumbles of war are being felt. The only thing they have in common is their feeling of being on the outside and of wanting to belong somewhere. This feeling of alienation is what draws them together.
The night ends after they make love. That morning, Birdlace heads back to his friends. On the bus that will take him to the base, he rips up Rose's address before any of his friends can see it.
Four years later, Birdlace has gotten the war experience he wanted. He's also lost all three of his friends.
Back in 1967, Birdlace is returning to San Francisco. The city is hardly recognizable. It's the summer of love and the streets are crowded with young people. Birdlace can't bring himself to enter Rose's cafe and he escapes into a bar across the street. There, he drinks with some older guys, vets themselves, but he doesn't belong with them, either.
He crosses the street to Rose's. He steps into the empty restaurant and sees her in the back. He calls her and she walks over to him. There's not much they can say to each other. They hug.