Revisiting 'Stony Island': Soulful 1970s Chicago cult film hits the streets again

April 4, 2012

Now this is good news: Stony Island, the obscure 1978 filmed-in-Chicago drama about a R&B band looking to hit the big time will finally make its way to DVD this month.

Seldom seen since its 1978 release, the 97-minute movie features great music and a cast that included sax virtuoso Gene Barge, future Bangles member Susanna Hoffs, Dennis Franz, Rae Dawn Chong and, of course, great music and loads of South Side Chicago locations and architecture that have been lost or majorly altered in the 33 years since the film hit the silver screen. At the end of the above clip, you see the old 63rd and Stony Jackson Park "L" terminus. The station was demolished in the early 1980s and tracks between Stony Island and Cottage Grove were demolished in the 1990s.

Stony Island was directed by South Side native Andrew Davis, who would go on to direct the made-in-Chicago film The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford. In the above clip we see Davis' real-life brother, the talented musician Richie Davis, as character Richie Bloom. The man in the brim, bell-bottoms and stacks is co-star Edward "Stony" Robinson, as singer Kevin Tucker. The curly-haired girl with them is Hoffs, as Lucie (Hoff's mom, Tamar Simon Hoffs co-wrote the film).

And dig this scene, featuring the cast and Barge, whose character Percy, is the film's father figure:

A word about Robinson: He proved to be a charasmatic main character and an electrifying singer in what would be his first and only film. Sadly, Robinson died of a blood disease at 27 just after the movie's release, according to his sister Pam, who wrote me last year after my February 2011 blog post about Stony Island.

"I just wanted to give a shout out for my brother Stony who died right at the brink of stardom, so there is barely anything written about him," she said then. "His performance received really great reviews which was great considering it was his first acting job."

And here's an original trailer for the film with more great music and footage:

Stony Island's DVD release is April 24. But if you can't wait until then, Andrew Davis and cast members will be on hand tonight and tomorrow night for screenings of Stony Island at the Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Click here for more info.