Synopsis by Craig Butler
Set in the Manhattan street milieu that served him well in West Side Story, Robert Wise's Rooftops tells the story of T, a quiet, soft-spoken teen-ager who has left his broken home and is living in a makeshift shelter in an old water tower on top of an abandoned tenement building. There are other kids like him, including Squeak, a talented graffiti artist who joins T after an altercation involving his mother's boy friend. T and Squeak manage to scrape together what little money they need through minor sins (stripping cars, etc.), and at night all these street inhabitants get together in a vacant lot to "combat" dance, in which they use a combination of karate and dancing to force an opponent off of a platform. Into this mix comes Lobo, a drug dealer who moves into T's building and turns it into a crack house. Lobo's beautiful cousin Elana serves as his lookout – not because she wants to, but because her father's heart attack has left her family in dire financial straits. T and Elana become interested in each other, but T and Lobo are at odds with each other – which fact leads to a showdown in which T must put his "combat" skills to good use.
bad-guy, bad-guy-turns-good, cross-cultural-relations, dance [art], drug-dealer, gangster, good-guy, Hispanic, Kung-Fu, martial-arts, racial-tension, racism, rampage, romance, star-crossed-lovers, street-smart, teenagers