Gala [00:00:00] On this episode of the Video Archives podcast, blast off to outer space with Roger and Quentin as they go toe to toe on one of the most polarizing Bond films of all time: Moonraker. Starring Roger Moore and heavily influenced by the science fiction craze caused by Star Wars, some say it’s the worst Bond film of the franchise while others (like myself) are diehard fans of this film. Pick a side as Quentin and Roger debate bond villains that hit too close to home, baddies that turn into goodies, and Roger Moore’s Bond. Next return to Earth with Clint Eastwood’s 1982 film Firefox. The Soviets had developed a new jet fighter called Firefox, and only one man is up for the job to steal the plane before it’s used as a first strike weapon. Quentin and Roger think in Russian as they talk about fantastic use of exposition, the bankrupting of Russia, and a discussion on how PTSD is used to shape character and story. And just as a treat for all of you out there in podcast land, Roger and Quentin talk briefly (sans spoilers) about Peter Maris’ 1979 film, Delirium. Trust me, you won’t want to look up this film before you watch it. Joining us now, here’s Quentin and Roger.
Quentin [00:01:09] Thank you, Gala. You’re listening to the Video Archives Podcast. I’m Quentin Tarantino.
Roger [00:01:14] And I’m Roger Avary.
Quentin [00:01:16] And tonight we’re going to go into a science fiction vein for both movies. When I presented to Roger what two movies we were going to talk about, he goes, “Damn, this is practically a theme episode.” I go, “Well, no, it’s not really a theme episode. It’s close to a theme episode, without exactly being a theme episode,” because it’s just too easy to do theme episodes. I want to build up to doing theme episodes. But Roger had suggested (from the very beginning of us talking about doing this) that we do Moonraker; Louis Gilbert’s James Bond movie with Roger Moore. I was interested in doing it as well, because I had never seen Moonraker. I avoided it when it came out because I seemed to sense what it was, and I didn’t want it.
Roger [00:02:04] [Laughter]
Quentin [00:02:05] So I was excited by the idea of actually having an excuse to watch Moonraker and discuss it. Roger has been singing the praises of this movie ad nauseum since he’s seen it, so I was coming into it with an open heart and an open mind. Nevertheless, I thought, “What should I counter Moonraker with?” I thought of another Roger Moore movie, but then that would officially make it a theme episode. So no Ffolkes, unfortunately, which is his best movie as far as I’m concerned.
Roger [00:02:36] And I would have loved it, actually. Ffolkes is such a great movie.
Quentin [00:02:39] I could do a Roger Moore four movie episode and never have a James Bond movie in it.
Roger [00:02:42] Yeah, absolutely.
Quentin [00:02:45] But I decided if we’re going to go for a spy films that rip off Star Wars, I decided I would choose my spy film that rips off Star Wars. That film is Clint Eastwood’s Firefox and we will get to that in a bit.
old trailer for Moonraker [00:03:03] Roger Moore is James Bond, 007, in Ian Fleming’s Moonraker. Jaws is back to put the bite on Bond. James Bond and Jaws are face to face in outer space in Moonraker. Moonraker certificate A Odeon, Leicester Square in Dolby Stereo, where all the other Bonds end, Moonraker begins. Now showing Odeon, Leicester Square.
ad copy [00:03:31] Moonraker, with co-hit Firefox, will be playing on August 8th and 9th on glorious 35 millimeter film at the New Beverly Cinema. 7165 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. For further information, go to the newbev.com. The New Beverly Cinema: always on film.
Roger [00:03:52] So this is a CBS Fox home video. CBS/Fox, it was both. In our Video Archives box tape #612. It was originally one of the Video Outtakes tapes.
Quentin [00:04:05] That makes sense.
Roger [00:04:06] So Moonraker, [reading the VHS box] “Albert R. Broccoli presents Roger Moore as James Bond: 007 in Ian Fleming’s Moonraker. Stereo Mono compatible.” This is the CBS/Fox Home video and on the back it proudly declares: “James Bond, now in space! Color, 1979. Roger Moore is back as James Bond in his 11th film in the popular 007 series. His new mission is to find Moonraker, a space shuttle that has been stolen while en route to England from the United States. He’s challenged by the powerful Hugo Drax [Michael Lonsdale], a rich industrialist obsessed with the conquest of space. Bond’s travels take him from California to Italy and on to Brazil, where he discovers Drax’s evil space scheme. Along the way, he’s assisted by the beautiful Dr. Goodhead [Lois Chiles] and sensuous Corinne Durfour [Corinne Cléry] while being threatened by Sinister Chang [Toshirô Suga], Drax’s manservant. And Jaws, [Richard Kiel] a towering giant with metal teeth. 126 minutes. PG: Parental guidance suggested.’
Quentin [00:05:23] From the drama section, even though it could be argued it should be in the science fiction section. However, any self-respecting mom and pop video store would always put all the Bonds together under B in the drama section.
Roger [00:05:37] Yeah, we always kept all the Bond films together because-
Quentin [00:05:41] That’s where everyone was going to go to.
Roger [00:05:42] What are you gonna do? You know?
Quentin [00:05:43] Yeah, that’s smart business.
Roger [00:05:46] So when Moonraker first came out, it was coming on the heels of Star Wars. It was also coming on the heels of another Lewis Gilbert Bond film: The Spy Who Loved Me, which I actually loved. I loved The Spy Who Loved Me.
Quentin [00:06:02] Well, one of the things about The Spy Who Loved Me, is the fact that it was probably the first Bond film to actually kind of be treated seriously as a film unto itself, maybe since Goldfinger.
Roger [00:06:16] And as I think about it, Lewis Gilbert was kind of evolving his style, he was always doing little quirky, frankly, funny gags and bits. Moonraker came out and I was absolutely dubious of it. Then the bad words started hitting, and saw it at the UA South Bay. I think I went with Scott McGill, and I hated it. I hated the film. As you know, as a younger man, I was a really hard critic. Like a mean critic, maybe one might say.
Quentin [00:06:54] I would.
Roger [00:06:54] I would go with a chip on my shoulder. You best entertain me.
Quentin [00:07:04] There was no middle ground with you. Things were either totally fucking great, totally awesome, or a piece of shit.
Roger [00:07:11] And the angry young man who went and saw this film just absolutely had grown out of this humorous James Bond, which they would still be making the occasional humorous James Bond movie. I left the theater. I hated it. I think I was like, “That’s it. The worst James Bond movie,” and for years it was the worst James Bond movie to me. I think it wasn’t until View to a Kill. But weirdly, when I think back on View to a Kill now, especially after my reevaluation of Moonraker, I think about Christopher Walken and his amazing delivery in that blimp he’s flying around in: [doing a Christopher Walken impression] ‘Silicon: The future, gentlemen.’ I just love him in that film.
Quentin [00:08:05] [Laughter]
Roger [00:08:05] Whenever anybody asked me to rank my Bond movies, I was always like, “Okay. Moonraker, down low Bond. Very low Bond.” But even thinking back on it every now and then, I’d say, “Well, it’s got a really good opening sequence.” My favorite opening sequence, though. So my daughter has this film club online, and one night I was just walking by and said, “Oh, what are you up to?” And she’s like, “I’m with my film club, and we’re watching Moonraker.” And I was like, “Ugh, Moonraker. Why?” I think they were actually working their way through all the Bond movies, and I craned my neck a little and hazarded a peek at the monitor that she was looking at. I think she even had headphones on, so I wasn’t even hearing the sound. Now, to preface this, I need to say that how starved I am lately, cinematically. So for me to suddenly look at the screen and see this amazingly beautiful set by Ken Adam. It’s the Olmec set that they-
Quentin [00:09:07] The cave.
Roger [00:09:08] Yeah. Well, it’s inside of a temple. I think Lansdale even says, “The people who lived in the city, of which are ruins which surround us now,” they’re on top of this dead civilization in that scene. Ken Adam, by this point in the movie, has completely taken over. It’s shot on a giant stage with a tank with a snake in it. There’s beautiful models everywhere, these beautiful Bond villain models; his Bond girls. They’re all around.
Quentin [00:09:49] And aren’t they all princesses or something?
Roger [00:09:51] Yes. When Lonsdale was introducing them, he was like, “The Countess So-and-so and the Duchess of Sudan, the Duchess of so-and-so.” Yeah, he’s completely rounded up all these amazingly beautiful women. I don’t know. I just I looked at it. I was like, “Okay, I need to reevaluate this film.” It was like I had been walking through a desert and I was starved and then suddenly I come upon an oasis and I was like, “I have to rewatch this movie.” I’ve noticed that as I’ve grown older and, as you grow older (literally every seven years) the cells in your body are completely new cells. You are, physically, a different person. About every seven years: from 1 to 7, you’re a different person than you are from 7 to 14 and 14 to 21, etc.. So the person that I am now (though, I’ve got some sense memory of who I used to be), I’m different. I’m a different person right now. So I’ve noticed that when I see films that I dismissed quickly back in the day, I sometimes look at them now and I am seeing things and appreciating things that I just wasn’t prepared for back then. In fact, after the way Bond had been going and where cinema was going in that moment, I was just with the crest of what everyone was feeling and Bond had jumped the shark.
Quentin [00:11:15] That was the opinion back then. Let me give you just a little bit of a history. Rather than go through the history of Bond, what’s actually really interesting is the history of Star Wars at that time. Especially in 1979, which is set up to be the biggest year of science fiction ever.
Roger [00:11:31] The biggest surprise year.
Quentin [00:11:32] Yeah. Well, I don’t know if it’s a surprise year because the thing about it is, is this: Star Wars comes out in ’77 and it just takes over the industry. It takes over pop culture. Nothing has ever come out that took over everything for a whole year.
Roger [00:11:48] Took over Christmas.
Quentin [00:11:49] Yeah, exactly. The Star Wars Christmas special. In fact, one of the things I remember (that was actually pretty good, frankly) was a Donny and Marie musical version of Star Wars. Marie is playing Princess Leia and Donny is playing Luke. But the thing that was fantastic about it, Kris Kristofferson (who was the guest) was playing Han Solo.
Roger [00:12:13] Perfect.
Quentin [00:12:14] And when you saw him in the Han Solo outfit, it was like, “Shit, he could have been in the fucking movie.” He enters and he’s singing a song, he’s got his ray gun and it was like, “Holy shit. This is a legit Han Solo.” Kris Kristofferson was like really, really good. R2-D2 and C-3PO are in it and Darth Vader. I even remember, officially, the first concert I ever saw was at Magic Mountain, and it was for Halloween. It was either that year, or the next year in ’78. It was the Wolfman Jack Halloween Spooktacular. So he’s hosting it. A bunch of oldie acts are playing and then at the end, Darth Vader shows up. He’s stopping everybody from boogying. So anyway, Star Wars comes out and the entire industry, the entire movie business realize, “Holy shit, this is what people want to see.” Every studio realizes “We ain’t got fuck all like this on the schedule. We’ve just got a bunch of other movies and for ’78 we’re not going to be able to give the people what they want, but we can fix that for 79.” But if you’re going to make a science fiction spectacular, it’s going to take a little over a year to do it because it’s got to be big. They’ve got to have big special effects. So the idea was that all the studios started putting all their time and all their effort towards 1979 when they can come out with their other big science fiction extravaganzas. So the first one out of the gate is Glenn Larson with Battlestar Galactica on television. The first one out of the gate theatrically is also Glenn Larson, because he does the TV movie for Buck Rogers in the 21st Century. It’s a not bad TV movie, but it’s obviously a TV movie. Nevertheless, that is going to be actually the first Star Wars oriented thing to hit the theaters. So Universal released it at the theaters. This is the same year that Star Trek: the Motion Picture comes out. The Black Hole comes out, Moonraker comes out. Then the one that actually ends up becoming the next legacy science fiction movie, the one that no one was paying attention to, is Alien. So this is going to be the- Not just science fiction, the Star Wars, James Bond movie. Which is not unknown to Roger Moore films, because with the exception of Spy Who Loved Me, they always had a gimmick angle at the beginning. Live and Let Die has a blaxploitation kind of sense because that was big at the time. Then the next one, The Man with the Golden Gun has a stupid martial arts/kung fu section squeezed right in the middle of it.
Roger [00:15:12] They’re almost like Marvel movies, how they pick a genre.
Quentin [00:15:15] Yeah, exactly. Now we’re back to it again, with the biggest gimmick of them all: James Bond in space. Okay, so now, Roger. You’ve sat down and watched the film. What did you think?
Roger [00:15:30] Okay, so we sat down. We watched it again. You know that I like things to be a little goofy. You know, that I like things to be a little out of control and a little wild. Well, this movie is out of control in a way that really vibes with Roger today. Part of that is that it’s a spy film, it’s an action movie, it’s a romance, it’s a travelogue. It’s a sci fi. It’s also a horror film. It switches its tone constantly. It becomes whatever it needs to be in the moment: it’s a comedy, it’s a Western even at one point. The musical choices are suddenly just rolling with it, like, [singing melodies from Moonraker]. When they’re in Brazil, the Bond theme transforms into like a big sky western. He comes riding over with these Caballero guys.
Quentin [00:16:28] Oh, yeah. That part. Yeah. I did not know what you were talking about before.
Roger [00:16:34] You had forgotten.
Quentin [00:16:34] Now it’s all of a sudden coming back, like the cold sting at the end of a wet fist.
Roger [00:16:38] But you know how bizarre that moment was. You even commented on it.
Quentin [00:16:46] It’s phony Morricone music with him dressed-.
Roger [00:16:50] No, no, no, no.
Quentin [00:16:50] [interjecting]
Roger [00:16:50] It’s John Berry doing Morricone.
Quentin [00:16:54] Actually, no. It’s like the Bonanza theme or something.
Roger [00:17:00] It might actually be the Bonanza theme.
Quentin [00:17:01] And he’s dressed like ‘the man with no name.’
Roger [00:17:04] Yeah, he’s dressed like the man with no name and for a little while, suddenly (and you even said) it’s like The Prisoner, where suddenly we’re giving an episode of The Prisoner living in harmony. Suddenly we’re in a Western. A Western Bond movie.
Quentin [00:17:15] Oh, look, I will admit that’s one of my more favorite parts about the movie.
Roger [00:17:20] But you know what? I’m going to bet that that as we talk, you say that more than once.
Quentin [00:17:26] I’ll say it twice.
Roger [00:17:29] Okay. Well, then my bet is secure. Even as much as I didn’t like the movie by the end, when I first saw the film originally back in ’79, I couldn’t deny how freaking fantastic the opening sequence was. I still think that this is the best opening stunt sequence of any Bond film. There’s no CGI to lean back on because there’s been more impressive, cinematic sequences since then: displays of money, displays of motorcycles jumping and buildings falling over.
Quentin [00:18:06] Look I will say, I do really like the opening sequence until Jaws gets into it. But the thing about it, though, was this: you’ve been arguing, “Oh, no, you just need to look at this again with new eyes. Don’t come about it the way we did in 1979. If you look at it with new eyes, you can see this other movie there.” Well, I didn’t feel that way when I watched the film. However, I will say that the opening actually made me think that I was going to. I had forgotten those little opening vignettes. Part of the thing of it was that these were real people are doing this. There’s nothing phony about it. It’s real people are doing this and then they are also figuring out how to film real people doing it.
Roger [00:18:52] Only Tom Cruise is doing that today.
Quentin [00:18:54] Yeah. So if somebody’s skiing and just skis off of an alp and you just see them fall a hundred thousand feet. Well, that’s a real guy, falling. It’s not a dummy. It’s not a special effect.
Roger [00:19:09] That’s some French ski expert.
Quentin [00:19:12] It’s some stunt man who just did it. In For Your Eyes Only, that’s a real guy on the helicopter, flying around. It’s not dark man with green screen and whatever. It’s probably greenscreen when you cut to Roger Moore. But everything else is a real guy. Now, the whole concept of Bond falling out of an airplane and heading towards the one guy who’s got a parachute to take it from him. They’re just freefalling, freefalling, freefalling as they have a fight in midair.
Roger [00:19:47] It’s gripping.
Quentin [00:19:48] As we know, our cameraman is also free falling while filming. It doesn’t matter that they’re not convincing. That didn’t matter. The fact that they were real human beings mattered. Again, it reminded me that that’s how the movies used to always be. Some human being is accomplishing what they’re setting out to do, and then another human being is filming it. That blew me away.
Roger [00:20:17] I actually have to say that I was surprised about two elements in this sequence: one, there are many moments where you’re in a close up with a stuntman playing Roger Moore falling from an airplane. Even though you’re in a close up, I’ll be damned. You said that you could tell. I couldn’t necessarily tell it wasn’t him.
Quentin [00:20:39] Well, not only can I tell, I can tell the guy is Asian. I could tell the stuntman is Asian, who’s playing Richard Kiel.
Roger [00:20:45] But you know what? To me it sells.
Quentin [00:20:48] I don’t care, because it’s still a real guy doing it. I’m not expecting big ass Richard Kiel to be freefalling like that. But that one section, though, the one section where Bond’s got to get the guy and he just kind of turns himself into a missile.
Roger [00:21:02] And he goes flying in on him
Quentin [00:21:04] Flying in like that! And you know that it’s a real guy, just coming through the air like a bullet, was fucking amazing.
Roger [00:21:12] Yeah. You start that thinking back in the day, the guys making movies were super studs. They were superhuman and doing incredible things.
Quentin [00:21:23] And that was par for the course for a James Bond movie at that time.
Roger [00:21:25] The jumps that they had to do, the quantity of jumps. I think the Tom Cruise movie recently did a similar thing.
Quentin [00:21:31] And they didn’t do that for any of the other action scenes. It was always just the opening action scene where you see human beings doing things that should be impossible.
Roger [00:21:41] After the opening sequence, I actually have to say the Shirley Bassey song,.
Quentin [00:21:44] Which was terrible.
Roger [00:21:46] It was originally supposed to be sung by Frank Sinatra, and apparently they went through-
Quentin [00:21:49] But maybe the most tuneless of all the James Bond themes.
Roger [00:21:52] That’s what I thought. That’s what I thought. But I’ll have to tell you, the last two days since we watched it, it’s been in my head.
Quentin [00:21:59] Roger, you’re giving me a fucking headache. Every terrible thing about this movie, you’re like: “Well, yeah, I agree. But then I thought about it for two days.”
Roger [00:22:07] Well, I love it. Let’s just talk about the mission. Let’s talk about Drax. Let’s talk about what this is really about. Let’s talk about the villain, because this is really what hooked me on the film. Watching the first sequence, when we rewatched the movie and then even with you, I was totally into it. Then the movie begins, we’re given our mission. We see that the Moonraker has been stolen and then we’re introduced to Drax and the concept of our mission and who he is. As I was watching it, lo and behold, maybe it’s just because of everything that’s going on right now in the world. But I look at it, I’m like, this is Elon Musk.
Quentin [00:22:53] No, no, that works. That works completely.
Roger [00:22:55] Even as they describe it at the back of the box: if you were to say “He’s challenged by the powerful Elon Musk, a rich industrialist obsessed with the conquest of space,”
Quentin [00:23:06] Your best point is the Elon Musk with his own spaceships, one of the richest men in the world thing
Roger [00:23:14] He’s got his facility in California, in the California desert. Where he’s building things using United States government money for the British and American space programs. I suddenly realized: this is a super contemporary Bond. As the movie unfolds and we start realizing his whole plan, which has since been repeated in a couple of Bond movies, and then we realize what the theme of the movie is, which I’ll get to later. I just realized this movie says what I want a Bond movie to say. Even though it’s goofy and wild as hell and kind of crazy and has a few embarrassing moments (and even a few little groaners), I’m so willing to overlook all of that because it’s somebody trying to push the envelope, cinematically in a Bond film inside of the frame of what’s possible.
Quentin [00:24:07] The movie has a bad rap, which I pretty much agree with. Except for one thing that it has a bad rap, and that is Michael Lonsdale. He has a bad rap of one of the weakest-
Roger [00:24:18] He’s fucking amazing in this movie.
Quentin [00:24:20] I wouldn’t go that far
Roger [00:24:23] You laugh at every single line he does, and in a good way.
Quentin [00:24:27] I like him a lot. I think he’s neutered by the fact that they keep cramming Jaws into it all the time. He helps make Drax a third rate villain. But I don’t think he’s a third rate villain. But I like the implications. Even without the Elon Musk parallel, but the parallel is kind of you can’t ignore it.
Roger [00:24:52] Frankly, impossible to ignore. You can imagine Elon Musk saying lines like, “Even in death, my magnificence is boundless.” He might have tweeted that, actually.
Quentin [00:25:03] Left to his own devices, Drax would be even more powerful in the movie than he is. But I think the film had other fish to fry. To me, look, when they go into space, it gets a little exciting. I don’t think once they get to space, it’s exciting. But the going to space is exciting. The one sequence that I actually think kind of works, in the way I think the movie wants to work and in the way that you’re claiming that it does work, is when they get to California and Bond lands in L.A. and you see the famous space station restaurant there in the background. The secondary bond girl is a helicopter pilot, so she’s going to take him to Drax’s home. It’s out in the California desert, so they’re just flying and they go to where they make all their space shit. That’s goes on forever. I don’t know where they’re in, I guess they’re in Tustin or someplace like that. Or Redlands or something like Palmdale. Some desert. Palm Springs, some place like that.
Roger [00:26:06] They’re out wherever they actually do those test sets.
Quentin [00:26:09] Then they’re on desert for a while, and then right in the middle of the desert, there’s this greenery and trees and then there’s Versailles. Now, I’m not 100% sure if I’m watching the movie, if the idea is that he just built a replica of Versailles and put it in Palm Springs, or if he just bought Versailles from the French government and had it shipped.
Roger [00:26:39] He bought Versailles and had it shipped over. She actually says he brought it over stone by stone.
Quentin [00:26:45] Stone by stone doesn’t mean he bought it. But I think the implication is yes. Because he tried to buy the Eiffel Tower and the French wouldn’t sell him that.
Roger [00:26:51] He’s immensely powerful. He doesn’t care about governments. This is starting to sound really familiar to me, in this day and age that we’re in right now.
Quentin [00:26:59] Okay. But one: that’s really funny, the idea that somebody would buy Versailles and stick in the middle of the California desert.
Roger [00:27:10] Yeah, and then he’s got everybody dressed in French outfits, and they’re doing shooting parties.
Quentin [00:27:14] But the thing that’s so funny about it, is they go to Versailles and film it. They’re actually shooting in the real Versailles. They use it about as well as Sofia Coppola did in Marie Antoinette. The fact that they’re shooting at the real Versailles and saying that it’s California. There’s a Hebrew phrase, which means a reverse on a reverse and that’s a reverse on a reverse. Just the whole concept of that is clever and is funny and the tongue is in the right side of the cheek. It’s the only big idea that I think they have that they pull off.
Roger [00:27:54] You know, the movie is a French co-production. In those days, France was great to do co-productions in. When I lived in the south of France, I got to know a few of these Bond directors. They all live in the south of France and so does Roger Moore. They’re all living down there. You can see the artifacts of a French production, the kind of Remy Julienne style gags and things throughout the movie. So you mentioned: he’s right there at Versailles with her secretary and there’s a moment where he’s snuck into (I think it’s maybe Drax’s room or the office) the office. She’s a secretary, so it’s the office. He’s kind of rummaging through her desk and she captures him, she finds him, and she’s this beautiful French actress.
Quentin [00:28:47] I think she’s French-Canadian, actually.
Roger [00:28:48] Oh, is she French Canadian? Apologies to the French. But she catches him and he approaches her and he’s about to do his wiles. Now at this point, for Roger Moore as Bond, I think you even mentioned it as we were watching the movie: he’s aged up quite a bit. He’s an elder Bond, almost at this point. He’s doing Ffolkes kind of around the same time, right?
Quentin [00:29:12] Yeah.
Roger [00:29:13] Where he’s got a beard and he’s playing his actual age.
Quentin [00:29:15] Yeah, I think he did it just before.
Roger [00:29:16] Here he’s meant to be playing sexy and everything; and there’s a moment where he moves in to kiss her to kind of magnetically hypnotize her, and she kind of recoils from him. She actually pulls back with a “Are you serious?” look on her face. And then he does a kind of, “Hey. I’m James Bond. I’m still James Bond,” and she’s like, “Eh, what the fuck” and they kiss. Maybe it’s because I’m now in my fifties, I’m kind of identifying with Roger Moore. I love Roger Moore in this role and I’m kind of getting that he’s nearing the end.
Quentin [00:29:57] Look, I’m a huge Roger Moore fan. Not so much as Bond, but I like almost everything else. The irony of Roger Moore playing Bond is the fact that Roger Moore had been playing that kind of character since the late fifties. I remember back when he was on Maverick playing Bo Maverick: handsome, a bon von vivant that’s athletic and but also has a sense of humor and is almost impossibly handsome.
Roger [00:30:28] Incredibly charismatic.
Quentin [00:30:28] Distractingly handsome, but incredibly charismatic, a little bit of a sense of humor about who he is. Everything that he had done beforehand was just perfect for what they wanted him to do in Bond. The Bond movie he should have been in is “On His Majesty’s Secret Service.” If he had been cast in that, at the perfect age, it would have been the perfect Bond movie for him to do. I’m not shitting on George Lazenby. But Roger Moore would have been better in that movie to me. I really like that movie, but there’s no Bond in it. I actually think the only Bond movie, he’s sort of the right age in, is Live and Let Die. He’s still kind of the guy who’s in the movie Gold. He’s still kind of the guy that’s a Simon Templar. From that point on, he’s just kind of aged out. He’s too old for the role. He’s mummified to who he used to be. Now he’s not that anymore, and nobody seems to know it more than Roger Moore. Roger Moore totally understands it. He knows that it’s a little ridiculous that all these women are just falling all over him. He’s pretty much wearing, by Moonraker anyway, a Roger Moore mask. Even in For Your Eyes Only, he’s wearing a mask of what Roger Moore used to look like. You can tell that is killing him to keep that weight. There’s almost something punk rock about how he doesn’t commit to the fight scenes. He doesn’t commit to them at all. He does just enough to not make it parody. But he’s still got this weird smile on his face, like, “No way can I beat up all these guys. The stuntmen are doing almost everything. I throw a couple of punches.” He never really commits, even the action stuff: he’s not really committing. He’s always got a sardonic look on his face. That’s the weird aspect of this era of Bond movie until the end, pretty much from (at least) The Spy Who Loves Me on.
Roger [00:32:43] But you know what? Here in Moonraker, we still have- I mean, maybe it’s too much emphasis (for me) on Ken Adam. But Ken Adam, to me, is Bond. That is a Bond movie, is Ken Adam and we get our first look at what Ken was doing.
Quentin [00:32:58] That’s your most legitimate point so far, is the fact that Ken Adam is the auteur of the film. Especially at a certain point, when it’s just one big set after another.
Roger [00:33:07] When you see the first big one, the first introduction, “Okay, this is Ken. We’ve given him something to do: the centrifuge.” One: that’s a mechanical centrifuge. He’s got to build that thing to operate. That’s no simple thing to make, that they did down there and it looks really badass and it photographs great and it’s a great sequence.
Quentin [00:33:29] One of your things that you’ve actually mentioned that I have to tip my hat to, is even given that it’s a cheesy Star Wars rip off. A cheesy Star Wars rip off designed by Ken Adam might be better than Star Wars. I can’t argue with that, those sets are fucking amazing. Every control panel, every corridor, every observation deck. I mean, everything.
Roger [00:34:00] Because there’s a moment where we walk into that temple, that Olmec temple, (and that shot that tied me back into this film that made me want to reengage with this movie) from that moment forward it is only Ken Adam, this movie.
Quentin [00:34:16] I agree.
Roger [00:34:17] And, suddenly, it is one amazing Ken Adam set and sometimes they’re just throwaways. Like that blast chamber sequence where you’re underneath the space shuttle. It’s like a conference room.
Quentin [00:34:27] No, that was terrific.
Roger [00:34:29] It’s every bit as good as Dr. Strangelove, this incredible set and it’s there for 30 seconds of screen time.
Quentin [00:34:37] I think the space stuff is silly as fuck. Having said that, one of the things that’s amazing about it is that it plays not even like a Star Wars rip off, like something like Star Crash or Message from Space
Roger [00:34:54] Although they do rip it off.
Quentin [00:34:55] Yeah. It plays more like a Japanese or a spaghetti sci fi film from about ten years earlier. Like for instance, the big set piece in Moonraker is when this space force of Americans show and they all have their backpacks and their ray guns and then they fight Drax’s Space Force. They’re floating through space and they’re with their jetpacks and their ray guns. Now, I’ve seen two movies that have had sequences like that before. One is Kinji Fukasaku’s classic The Green Slime, which has a big sequence like that. Another one is Antonio Margheriti’s Wild, Wild Planet, which is one of the best of the spaghetti of sci fi movies. Now, frankly, I like them both better in those other films. However, this is Star Crash or Wild, Wild Planet but with Ken Adam doing the sets.
Roger [00:35:51] On studio budgets.
Quentin [00:35:53] A completely unlimited budget for special effects.
Roger [00:35:55] Yeah, and no time. But you can spend as much as you need to. Blank check.
Quentin [00:36:01] So we’re seeing the stuff that’s done in cheesy sci fi (literally sci fi, not science fiction) movies, but never done this elaborately. Every model in this thing is fantastic. When the space station blows up. Fantastic. It’s amazing. Even the passenger jet getting blown away by Moonraker’s exhaust draft. That was fantastic.
Roger [00:36:29] All of the takeoffs of the Moonraker models are fantastic. These are miniatures being lifted in real time, and it’s stunning to look at. Spectacular model work. In fact, I’m looking at special effects that were honestly reminding me of Dark Star, which we talked about before. And yes, they are directly ripping off Star Wars. They blow up their version of the Death Star, we get that. If you’re a kid and you want some Star Wars, you’re delivered a little bit of that. “We’ve got to go off of our automatic targeting system, use the force Bond.” I’m okay with all that. Those are kind of my least favorite moments of the movie, but I’m okay with it. I love the playful style. When they’re flying, I love that entire battle sequence that you’re talking about. It’s completely, hellaciously violent. There’s so much death going on, everyone is getting blasted by lasers.
Quentin [00:37:30] There’s death all the way through the whole movie, that poor gondola guy.
Roger [00:37:32] Oh, everybody’s getting it. Everybody’s getting it. But what’s weird about everybody getting it in this, is they take such great care and so much time during the liftoff sequence where they’re flying up and Bond says, “Let’s see what the cargo is” and they flip on the cargo and they see that the cargo of the space shuttle is full of men and women. Two by two. They’re all in zero-G and slow motion with their beautiful L’Oreal hair floating in the air kissing their ideal mate. There’s this realization: all these beautiful people are up there. They’re there to breed and to repopulate the Earth. Well, once the time the Space Force gets there and starts their war in space, everyone on the station is killed except for Jaws (and that little girl and whoever else manages to escape). All of those people are killed in the end. To me, it’s poignant. During this entire space war thing, when you listen to the music, it’s sad music that’s playing. It’s a strange juxtaposition of all this crazy action and then this sad music. Pending doom is what I feel out of that music.
Quentin [00:38:52] Obviously I don’t agree. I think Lewis Gilbert not only does a horrible job directing the film, I think it’s as if made for a Guy Hamilton re appreciation society. To watch Moonraker again made me realize, “Wow, Diamonds are Forever isn’t so bad.”
Roger [00:39:14] Well, I loved Diamonds are Forever.
Quentin [00:39:18] Live and Let Die isn’t so bad. The boat chase in Live and Let Die is like The Seven-Ups compared to the gondola chase in Moonraker. One of the things that we said (and I was wrong, I was giving it too much credit was that this is like the chase in a Dean Jones Walt Disney movie. Except those are done well, there’s nothing in the gondola chase.
Roger [00:39:43] I love the gondola chase!
Quentin [00:39:44] The gondola chase is horrible, alright? But the end chase of Million Dollar Duck is actually pretty good.
Roger [00:39:51] Well, I liked Million Dollar Duck, but I also like the gondola chase in this. I love that the guy comes out of a coffin to throw knives at him and then falls back into the coffin.
Quentin [00:40:04] He kills the poor gondola guy, aww.
Roger [00:40:04] This movie is made for a specific age of kid to watch.
Quentin [00:40:12] What, 55?
Roger [00:40:15] I am, at 55, ready to reawaken that person who I held back so hard on when I was young. I was so wound up in my own shit that, to be honest, Quentin, when I watch Bond movies today, I feel what’s missing is a kind of playfulness; a goofiness. I don’t mind it being playful and goofy. I love that in those movies. When I think about my favorite Bond movies, like you were talking about a few of your favorites, my go-tos were always Diamonds Are Forever and Goldfinger. I mean, those are easy ones to go for.
Quentin [00:40:50] Look, when I watched the movie, it made me wish we were watching Live and Let Die because I’ve only half seen that one.
Roger [00:40:57] That can be arranged.
Quentin [00:40:58] No, no, I know that. I know. But it was making me wish were watching Live and Let Die. At the end when it said, “Stay tuned for Bond. Coming up next, in For Your Eyes Only,” I was just like, “Oh, yeah, okay. A real movie.”
Roger [00:41:13] Well, a movie that takes itself seriously. A movie that isn’t-
Quentin [00:41:18] With a real Bond girl.
Roger [00:41:20] I love all the girls in this Bond movie. I love them all. I think they’re all fantastic and I just have to say also: Holly Goodhead as-
Quentin [00:41:29] Even the name Holly Goodhead is so stupid. Now I actually think that she has that name in the book.
Roger [00:41:34] She’s not named that in the book.
Quentin [00:41:36] Of course she’s not! You have to remember that there was a time where the biggest sex joke ever said in a Hollywood movie was the name Pussy Galore. By the time it gets to Moonraker, with her name Holly Goodhead, it’s such a beyond obvious pun for a Bond movie. It’s not worthy of a Bond movie. That’s the kind of name that the sexy phys ed teacher’s name in a Porky’s rip off (not Porky’s or Animal House, but a rip off); Mrs. Goodhead.
Roger [00:42:17] It’s part of the format. Listen, it’s hard for me to defend the name Holly Goodhead, because it’s actually a disservice to who she is, both in the original book and in this movie. I mean, when she whips out all of the- She’s Bond, she’s a Bond. She’s his equivalent. In other movies, we get fucking Felix Lightner. In this we get an actual female equivalent of Bond, someone who has spy devices and can kick people’s ass.
Quentin [00:42:40] I like Lois Childs, but I feel that she’s a nonentity in this movie. I don’t know if it’s 100% her fault, because I think that there’s a situation where they never decided on what the character should be. I think they were torn between three different ideas and they never made a decision, and so she never really had a character to play. She didn’t know whether to shit or go blind, she couldn’t go left and she couldn’t go right because they wouldn’t let her. I mean, just to use as another example, Jill St. John has a character in Diamonds Are Forever. You can like her, you can not like her, but she plays the character and there’s a contrast to her with Bond and there’s a contrast to everything else. Forget about the fact that it seems as if her entire performance is post upped, which makes her never sound like she’s in the same room as Bond.
Roger [00:43:36] It does sound like that. There is a kind of detached thing.
Quentin [00:43:40] She’s a good actress. I mean, I worked with her on a CSI, so I don’t actually think it’s necessarily her fault. She was terrific in Death on the Nile.
Roger [00:43:51] Yeah. All I can say is that her final line in this movie, when she just says, “Take me around the world one more time, James.” I don’t know. I just I love hearing her say it.
Quentin [00:44:00] That was the only good line they gave her. But not only does she have a good line, the head and shoulders shot of her floating is probably the best anti-gravity part of the whole movie, is that little shot of them filming down on her. That one moment is the best anti-gravity moment of the fucking film.
Roger [00:44:17] You feel it.
Quentin [00:44:20] That’s Moonraker.
Roger [00:44:20] That is Moonraker, my third favorite Bond film.
Quentin [00:44:35] We’re back for our second half of the episode. Joined by Gala, who is going to chime in on her father’s folly and tell us what she thinks.
Gala [00:44:46] Yes I am. Well, I am going to talk about my second favorite Bond film in the franchise, which is Moonraker. My first, by the way, is Man with the Golden Gun, because that is my favorite Bond film.
Roger [00:45:00] Why is it your favorite Bond film?
Roger [00:45:01] The Henchman, Knick Knack. I think, personally, I know a lot of people out there are big Jaws fans, but I’m a Knick Knack fan. Knick Knack loves to watch. All he wants to do is watch a gunfight between Bond and the other best gunmen in the world. And if Bond wins, he gets the entire island. I think it’s a great plot. Moonraker, I think is also really fun. So that’s why it gets my number two spot. Star Wars was so popular, they wanted to cash in on it. I’m personally really glad they did. There’s a lot of film science fiction hidden inside this movie. Like, for example, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is referenced as the keypad number.
Quentin [00:45:37] [singing the melody from the ship from Close Encounters]
Gala [00:45:40] Spielberg apparently actually wanted to direct this movie and he also wanted to direct for Your Eyes Only, but was declined both times by Broccoli. Then he went on to go make Indiana Jones instead, so perfect. We got that instead. Moore is my favorite Bond, out of any Bond. I like more than Connery. I know he’s a little old, but I love Moore.
Roger [00:46:03] It’s a controversial thing to say, but-
Gala [00:46:05] I love Connery, too.
Roger [00:46:07] Lotta people love Roger Moore.
Quentin [00:46:07] Sean Connery was always our dad’s Bond, even though we held on to it. We saw the stuff in revivals, but Moore was our Bond. For better or for worse, he was our Bond.
Roger [00:46:18] Yeah, it’s true.
Gala [00:46:19] I have to defend Dr. Holly Goodhead at this table. I know I’m going to get a lot of stares and groans right now, but she’s my favorite Bond girl.
Quentin [00:46:27] Oh, my God.
Gala [00:46:30] Besides Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, who I feel like gets overlooked a lot. But I love Dr. Holly Goodhead. After a string of (in my opinion) a little bit boring Bond girls, we got a smart, intelligent brunette. It did it for me. I loved it. I know that’s not what –
Roger [00:46:48] You’re a smart, intelligent brunette. So did you identify with the character?
Quentin [00:46:52] Well, let me push back on this a little bit, but what do you think about my comments about the idea that they had three different character traits for her and they never really quite decided which way to go with it. Do you see that or do you not see that and think, “No, no. She is her character?”
Gala [00:47:10] Personally, I think she is her character. She’s a CIA agent. When she’s going there, she’s playing other characters. So I don’t think it’s as much as they’re confused about her character rather than they say, “You are a CIA agent, undercover playing other characters.”
Roger [00:47:25] Yeah, she’s playing a rocket scientist.
Gala [00:47:27] She’s playing a rocket scientist with NASA, (and she kind of is with NASA, but isn’t) but what I like about her is that she’s just kind of doing her own thing. She’s not depending on Bond. She’s kind of- I don’t want to say our first equal to Bond, as a Bond girl. But she is.
Quentin [00:47:40] I think that that’s what they wanted to do. I think she’s more of an appendage. She’s just the silent partner standing right next to him, shoulder to shoulder with him, but saying nothing for the last 20 minutes of the movie.
Gala [00:47:54] And that’s fair, because as Roger pointed out, having the Ian Fleming Moonraker book in my hand, I actually do think that the character is a disservice to the Bond girl in this book: which is the only Bond girl that Bond does not get with in the novels and is the only girl in the franchise not to be used in a film yet. In Die Another Day, Rosamund Pike’s character was renamed to Miranda Frost from this Bond girl’s name. Do you want to guess her name, Quentin?
Quentin [00:48:22] No, what is it?
Gala [00:48:22] Gala Brand.
Quentin [00:48:23] Oh, really?
Gala [00:48:25] I share a name with a Bond girl. I grew up my whole entire life, never sharing my name with anything and I had the coolest Bond girl, in my opinion.
Roger [00:48:33] You were sharing your name with the Gala Eluard who was an artist and the wife of Salvidor Dali.
Gala [00:48:36] Yeah, but not Gala Brand.
Quentin [00:48:39] Is she the same situation, where she’s a CIA agent?
Gala [00:48:41] No, she actually works as (I think she’s) a secretary with the British Secret Service.
Roger [00:48:47] It’s the British police.
Gala [00:48:48] The British police. She’s undercover with Hugo Drax. Drax has abducted her fiance, which is unknown to Bond, and Bond falls in love with her over the course of the book. But really, Gillibrand is there just to save her fiancee, and she’ll do anything to save him. So it’s kind of this nice romantic thing; where her and Bond in the end just shake hands and he’s like, “Well, that one got away.”
Quentin [00:49:11] So then what? So then why do you love this Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox that’s been put through the de-flavorizing machine? That is Holly Goodhead.
Gala [00:49:23] Man, I just like a smart Bond girl. I like a rocket scientist, CIA agent, who just looks at James Bond and says, “Take me around the world one more time.” She’s just in it for the ride. She’s as close to an equal as we’re getting at this time period.
Roger [00:49:36] Yeah, it’s difficult because-
Quentin [00:49:38] Wait a minute, now. I don’t know if I can go with that because Barbara Bach’s Russian agent is pretty much, literally, his opposite number. And in the book, it’s the only book told from her perspective.
Gala [00:49:50] That is interesting. Yeah.
Quentin [00:49:52] I’ve always been meaning to read that book because it’s the only book that’s written from the first person perspective of another character.
Gala [00:49:59] But my least favorite Bond movie of all time, for sure, is Octopussy.
Quentin [00:50:03] Okay, now, I have to say, I’ve never actually seen Octopussy, because it was one of those things where Never Say Never Again, which is mediocre at best, came out the same year as Octopussy. I voted with my ticket money. But Edgar Wright has a great line about Octopussy: he’s like, “Why would you make Austin Powers in a world where Octopussy already exists?”
Gala [00:50:35] I personally love line in the movie where she goes, “My daddy calls me his little Octopussy.” It’s one of the most iconic Bond lines, ever.
Roger [00:50:42] It’s very disturbing to me, that that is your favorite line.
Gala [00:50:45] It’s a great line. Now, I’m going to give you a few fun facts, Quentin, about the film. It is the highest grossing Roger Moore Bond. It is currently the 8th highest grossing bond out of all the Bond films, including the new one that just came out. First off, Jaw’s was originally supposed to be taller than him, but Keel wanted a rewrite. The very tiny French actress was cast. Producers were not sure if the height difference would work until Keel revealed that his own wife was the same height, and that’s when they finally decided to cast her. Now, about Jaws’ tone in the movie, which I don’t think, Quentin, you really connect with; the comedic aspect of Jaws.
Roger [00:51:24] Definitely not.
Gala [00:51:26] At all. I don’t think it’s his favorite henchman.
Quentin [00:51:28] Yeah.
Gala [00:51:29] Jaws became a good guy for one reason: because after seeing Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me, children sent fan mail to director Louis Gilbert asking, “Why can’t Jaws be a good guy, not a bad guy?” He received countless mail asking, “Why is Jaws not a good guy?” And he listened to the children and showed that anyone can become a hero and do the right thing.
Roger [00:51:49] See, there it is. That’s exactly why I love this movie; that Louis Gilbert was getting fan mail from little kids who asked, “why can’t it Jaws be a goody?” I think that is so sweet.
Quentin [00:52:01] Look, I think that’s sweet, too, alright. But you can imagine writing that letter to the Batman TV show, and going “How come the Riddler has to be such a bad guy? I love the Riddler.” I can imagine that. It doesn’t mean that they should be a good guy. I’m just a little kid. What the fuck do I know? To me, the whole thing is not whimsical, it’s cynical. The whole movie is cynical. It’s cynically ripping off Star Wars, in this cash grab kind of way. It’s cynically using Jaws, who was this special thing in The Spy Who Loved Me. To me, it’s just base. There’s a cynical commercial aspect about the film.
Roger [00:52:48] Well, that cannot be denied, actually, because the Brazil sequence is a great example: where every single shot seems to be designed after a Seven Up billboard.
Quentin [00:53:01] Yeah. [laughing]
Roger [00:53:02] And it’s like, “Seven Up, Seven Up, Seven Up.” Seven Up is everywhere.
Gala [00:53:06] And for anyone out there wanting to watch Moonraker, this is available all over. I purchased my copy (which is a CBS Fox videotape) for $30 on eBay, but Video Archives purchased theirs for $89.98.
Roger [00:53:18] Does the one you purchased have the little drawer like this?
Gala [00:53:20] I purchased the exact same copy.
Roger [00:53:21] I have to describe this because Quentin’s CBS/Fox video (which is the Video Archives actual box), man, back then they made the tapes snugly fit into this beautiful box.
Quentin [00:53:34] It doesn’t have the shape of a video box, or a video cassette. It’s like a square.
Roger [00:53:39] It’s ever so slightly larger. It’s a movie poster sized, almost.
Quentin [00:53:41] Yeah, it’s a movie poster size. But there’s a drawer. It actually, literally, has a drawer.
Roger [00:53:47] And it cradles it almost elegantly, with a nice reveal. I love it.
Quentin [00:53:52] No, I agree. Well, thank you for your opinion, Gala. Now, F.O. Now, we go to our second half of our double feature, and that is Clint Eastwood’s Firefox.
old trailer for Firefox [00:54:09] [Narrator of trailer] The plane: Firefox, the most devastating killing machine ever built. The man: Mitchell Gant, US fighter pilot. [dialogue from film] “Gant, can you fly that place?” “Yeah, I can fly it.” [narrator] The mission: steal Firefox. Clint Eastwood in one of the most incredible undercover operations in history: Firefox.
ad copy [00:54:31] Firefox, with co-hit Moonraker, will be playing on August 8th and 9th on glorious 35 millimeter film at the New Beverly Cinema. 7165 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. For further information, go to the NewBev.com. The New Beverly Cinema: Always on Film.
Quentin [00:54:53] I will read the back of the box. The tagline is “the ultimate warplane… demands the ultimate pilot.” [reading the box] Like a high-tech bat out of hell, it rips through the skies at six times the speed of sound. Like a shimmering ghost, it is invisible to radar. Like a slick cobra, it spits death with missiles launched and guided purely by the pilot’s thoughts. It’s a MiG 31, the most devastating war machine ever built by man. Codename: Firefox. But Firefox belongs to the Russians. To maintain the delicate balance of world power, the West must steal it. The right man for the job, take a guess. Clint Eastwood, recipient of the special D.W. Griffith Award for Career Achievement in the 1988 Golden Globe Awards, brings his legendary star quality to the role of ace pilot Mitchell Gant.
[00:55:56] Still haunted by hallucinations of Vietnam, Gant is ‘volunteered’ to be smuggled into Russia, defy the KGB, commandeer Firefox and fly it home to the world’s most lethal air defense system. Like no film before it, Firefox (based on Craig Thomas’s riveting bestseller) delivers a unique payload of nail biting suspense and espionage, as well as special effects high adventure. As with Heartbreak Ridge and Pale Rider, Eastwood’s tight, hard edged direction takes a low key approach that lures viewers into its unique rhythms, masterminding a slew of awe-inspiring visual effects. John Dykstra brings his considerable talents back into Earth’s atmosphere after conquering outer space and winning an Academy Award for his celebrated work on Star Wars. Climb into the cockpit, synch up your safety belt and let Eastwood take you for the ride of your life aboard Firefox. Newly issued in Hi-Fi surround stereo.
Roger [00:57:06] Mono compatible, like Moonraker?
Quentin [00:57:08] Yeah, probably not. That would be in the drama section under F. I saw Firefox literally the night it opened. Warner Brothers was really, really into Firefox that summer. It came out in July ’82, and they peppered the TV with spots for Firefox. All the time. Me and my buddies, we went to see Firefox opening night. The 8:00 show at The Hollywood and there was a lin. It was a big opening weekend for Firefox. It was a line all the way down Hollywood Boulevard. We wait in line and we got to see the movie and pretty much everybody was disappointed in it. Actually, the film got very bad word of mouth on it. I think it probably did really good in its opening weekend, but bad word of mouth followed it around and it dropped considerably.
[00:58:10] It’s kind of the nature of the beast for this kind of movie, because the whole movie is obviously about Clint Eastwood stealing this plane and try to fly it out of Russian airspace. All the TV spots had to do with him stealing the plane. It had to do with him flying around in the air and him having big dogfights, and that’s only a small part of the movie. That’s the third act. But everything else is actually a pretty serious Robert Ludlum style espionage movie; a serious Cold War thriller. It’s him meeting this contact, who takes him to another contact who then takes him to another contact, all leading to the point where he can actually maneuver his way through all these surrogates and all these resistance fighters against the Russians to put himself in the air hangar where the Firefox is, so he can eventually steal it. Everyone just thought that was boring. I even remember the Variety review at the time said, “This actually sounds like it would be a cool movie, nothing new but it could be fun.” A good us versus the Russians movie and Eastwood’s the perfect person to star in a movie like that.
Roger [00:59:23] Totally.
Quentin [00:59:24] And they actually said that he made a mistake, making it too Robert Ludlum-like, in the first three quarters. To me, looking at the movie now, that’s the good part of the movie. I think it’s pretty obvious that Eastwood was a little out of his depth when it came to doing the special effects stuff. I’m pretty sure that he left all that to John Dykstra. But I think why Eastwood responded to the script, is everything that no one else liked about the movie. I think he responded to the genuine spy nature of the story: of him in Russia being sent from this place to that place. I think that’s really good storytelling. It might be some of his best storytelling from that point in the eighties.
Roger [01:00:08] When the ads for this came out, it was all flying. There may have been a gunshot or a car crash or somebody running around or something, but it was pretty much all flying. It was like, “You’ve got to think in Russian, you’ve got to think in Russian.” It was this kind of almost not sci fi thing, but like, sci-fact.
Quentin [01:00:29] Well, it is sci fi. I don’t think we have a plane like this today.
Roger [01:00:33] Well, the Chinese might.
Quentin [01:00:34] They don’t have a plane that goes Mach 6.
Roger [01:00:39] They just did some kind of hypersonic jet test, that circled the earth multiple times.
Quentin [01:00:44] One of the things that actually (I wouldn’t say hurt the movie a little) a bit after this, Top Gun came out and then Iron Eagle came out and all these movies will come out and they’re going to use real jets. They can’t do that because they don’t have jets like Firefox.
Roger [01:00:59] Like every other audience member, I went to the movie and I was expecting mostly that. I have to say, when I first saw it, my feelings were that I was just bored for the first part of it. Then when the airplane stuff happened, to be honest when I first saw the movie, I just wasn’t plussed by it. Watching the movie again with you now, I found myself really enjoying all of the Ludlum-like elements. That turned out to be all I really liked about the movie.
Quentin [01:01:30] Yeah, no, look, I mean, look, I’d like to say that I was smarter than everybody else, but I don’t know. I’m not saying I was bored but at some point I almost lost track of what I was watching, sitting in the theater. There was so much cloak and dagger going on that I wasn’t suspecting that I was like, “What am I watching?” I literally forgot, almost, for a second.
Roger [01:01:52] Yeah, it’s like “Oh, where am I?”.
Quentin [01:01:53] I almost forgot for a second what I bought a ticket for. Then, even though I recognized how cool that shot was; of him coming into the cockpit, especially seeing it from the guy who’s dying’s point of view.
Roger [01:02:05] Yeah. Where he’s dressed like the Daft Punk guy.
Quentin [01:02:07] Yeah. Yeah. There still was this aspect of- I was almost too disengaged by what I bought a ticket to see that by the time I was seeing what I bought a ticket to see, I wasn’t as “Yahoo rah rah” as I thought I might have been. I watched Firefox again about three years ago. I ended up picking up print of the film because we show a lot of Eastwood stuff at the New Beverly. So I picked it up and I watched it and I was like, “Holy shit, this is really good storytelling.” Now the film is very silly. All the characters are crazy hokey. So I can only make so much of it.
Roger [01:02:44] But sometimes in a good way, like Freddy Jones.
Quentin [01:02:45] Yeah, well, no, no, he’s not hokey. He’s absolutely terrific. All the Russian characters are very hokey, but characters aside and aspects aside, just the storytelling of the spy stuff is really, really charming. Again, it’s one of those things where you compare modern movies to then, they wouldn’t tell the story this way now. They would cut corners, they would add montages, they would just move everything along.
Roger [01:03:14] You’d see the airplane three or four times before you actually do, the way we do it now.
Quentin [01:03:17] Yes, and nothing would mean anything, at least not his journey. Now, the film is very hokey because basically what Eastwood is doing is a “caught behind enemy lines,” espionage, World War II movie.
Roger [01:03:37] They’re almost playing Nazis.
Quentin [01:03:39] Yeah, yeah, they are playing Nazis.
Roger [01:03:40] The British people playing Russians are doing Nazi accents.
Quentin [01:03:46] Whether a you’re in Nazi occupied France, or if you’re in Berlin doing all those George Sanders movies, this is basically that. Except it’s given a Cold War twist by making them Russian. Eastwood does a fairly good job doing a cheap version of Russia, for what they’re trying to sell is Russia. However, having said that, it’s a little disconcerting that they don’t take the Russian stuff more seriously. If you watch Paul Mazursky’s Moscow on the Hudson, if you watch 2010, if you watch Russia House, they take the Russian stuff seriously. Hardly any Russians are in this movie. It’s basically-
Roger [01:04:28] It’s weird.
Quentin [01:04:29] -a whole bunch of British actors talking with marbles in their mouths, doing phony Russian accents.
Roger [01:04:37] Possibly a few Germans.
Quentin [01:04:38] And some Germans, who are not doing the Russian accent at all.
Roger [01:04:41] They’re just doing a German accent.
Quentin [01:04:42] Yeah, they’re just doing German accents. One of the things also that’s actually kind of charming about it now, is that there is something charming to go back to the eighties when there was this Cold War: us versus the Russkies, us versus them.
Roger [01:04:58] Such warm, comfortable times those were.
Quentin [01:05:00] And the fact that we actually thought that Russia could not only defeat us, but take us over one day.
Roger [01:05:07] That Red Dawn could happen.
Quentin [01:05:08] Yeah, I remember Howard Rosenberg (who was the TV critic for the Los Angeles Times) wrote, “How can a country that makes Dukes of Hazzard” the number one TV show in America ever hope to beat the Russians?”
Roger [01:05:21] With Dukes of Hazzard, is the answer.
Quentin [01:05:24] With the General Lee, yeah.
Roger [01:05:25] Exactly.
Quentin [01:05:28] So you’ve got the Russians literally filling in for the Nazis; and apparently when it comes to Jewish persecution, the Russians are picking up right where the Nazis left off, in this movie. The lead guy for the KGB, who’s after them, is a Ken Russell regular named Kenneth Coley. He’s in The Music Lovers, he’s in The Devils, he’s in Mahler. He plays Chopin in Lisztomania.
Roger [01:05:51] He’s great in Lisztomania.
Quentin [01:05:53] He’s basically the KGB officer who’s assigned to protect the Firefox.
Roger [01:05:59] Baby Nicol Williamson.
Quentin [01:06:01] Yeah. He looks he looks like Nicol Williamson’s low rent younger brother, Ernie Williamson. But his KGB guy is basically a Gestapo guy.
Roger [01:06:11] He’s clicking his heels every time he turns and stares off into a void to give a monologue.
Quentin [01:06:18] The KGB acting like the Gestapo is what you want in an “us versus the Russkies” movie. But then there’s all the contacts that Eastwood meets along the way, and they’re the really hokey ones. There’s Warren Clark, who’s playing the pudgy van driver who’s got almost too big a part.
Roger [01:06:36] From Clockwork Orange. Dim.
Quentin [01:06:44] I had just seen Hawk the Slayer a couple of days earlier, and he’s in Hawk the Slayer.
Roger [01:06:49] I can only think of one or two other movies he’s in, besides Hawk the Slayer. I know he’s in Ishtar. I know he’s in this.
Quentin [01:06:54] You also have Rolland Lacey, who’s the Peter Laurie character from Raiders of The Lost Ark. You have Nigel Hawthorne, the guy who dies in Four Weddings and a Funeral. He’s in there. So, like I said, you have all these British actors playing Russians; all acting with marbles in their mouth. Nobody’s accents the same. It’s just kind of all over the place. Add that to the fact that you have Clint Eastwood, who has no character in the movie which is not so bad for Eastwood. Eastwood, at that time especially, could score without a character.
Roger [01:07:31] Well, he has a very cardboard character here.
Quentin [01:07:33] Yeah. There’s no meat on its bones, but that’s okay. Eastwood could score without a character because Eastwood always knew who he was and what his function in this particular movie is.
Roger [01:07:48] PTSD is his character.
Quentin [01:07:49] Yeah, and he looks good in the suit and in the end, you want him to do everything. However, they make the whole thing about the fact that he was born in Russia (at the very least, his mother is Russian and she raised him speaking Russian) and then when it turns out that he has to be able to think in Russian, he can do it. Because the whole thing is, the missiles are controlled by the pilot’s thoughts. You never even have to hit a button. You just think, and it’s destroyed. But he has to think in Russian.
[01:08:21] Now, it’s a little ridiculous in the movie because you would think that would be brought up much earlier. That would kind of be a deal breaker, frankly, but it’s not revealed until Hawthorn decides to tell you what’s going on. That was the time, in the theater, where the whole audience laughed. It was a bad laugh. They laughed because it was ridiculous that he would not be told that until now, and it’s ridiculous to think that Eastwood can think in Russian because he has shown no facility with the Russian language in the movie thus far.
Roger [01:08:57] There’s only one moment he has in Russian.
Quentin [01:08:57] There’s only one moment where he actually has to say a couple of Russian phrases; when he’s passing by a checkpoint and he’s so lousy saying it. You can’t believe it’s in the movie. Especially in a movie where they’re obviously supposed to be speaking Russian, but they’re speaking English. So why they would actually have him say the Russian so badly.
Roger [01:09:20] In that one moment.
Quentin [01:09:21] Doesn’t make any sense!
Roger [01:09:22] It breaks the reality of the movie completely.
Quentin [01:09:24] It breaks the reality that never existed! But now it’s for sure. You just assumed Eastwood wouldn’t be able to do this. Now you know for a fact he fact he can’t.
Roger [01:09:33] When you have something ridiculous or when you have a lie to tell, you just tell it really big. So this whole idea of “think in Russian,” they just need needed to make a bigger deal out of it. The reason he’s selected is because his mother is Russian. So they should have said, “Listen, the way this thing works, it’s a brain wave reader implant. The first language we’re born with that we learn, our mother tongue, our first tongue is your primal language.” They needed to, in some way, make that a thing; make it bigger.
Quentin [01:10:07] It’s a kind of fallacy that helped plug me into the idea of Inglourious Basterds. Firefox is a good example, but another good example is Where Eagles Dare. The whole thing is that Eastwood-
Roger [01:10:18] He’s supposed to actually be German.
Quentin [01:10:20] Yeah, well, he’s a Canadian in it, actually.
Roger [01:10:22] He speaks German.
Quentin [01:10:23] But yeah, that’s the idea: the fact that both Richard Burton and Eastwood speak German so well that they can put on Nazi officer’s uniforms and just hang around in taverns and talk to anybody and get away with it. And because English is supposed to be German, then we just all buy it. But I remember watching that and thinking, “If the actors literally had to speak German, that would be interesting. How would they pull it off?” That would be to me, is a whole level of suspense that’s dispensed with now we’re ‘officially’ speaking Russian or German, but actually are just speaking English. That was a thing to bring in to Inglourious Basterds. “Oh, if they’re going to have to do that. That is going to be a suspense beat.”
Roger [01:11:09] Use it as a device.
Quentin [01:11:10] That’s a thing, and I had to find actors that can speak German.
Roger [01:11:14] The only time I’ve ever seen what I call the “unified field theory of language in movies’ was in Hunt for Red October, that moment where the camera zooms in on his mouth and then they switch during the reading of the poem from Russian into English. From that moment on, it’s like he solved the problem that had plagued filmmakers since the dawn of cinema.
Quentin [01:11:38] I agree. But in the situation of both Firefox and Inglourious Basterds, the pulling off of the language is the undercover job. That’s part of the mission itself.
Roger [01:11:49] Right.
Quentin [01:11:50] Then it gets to the first time that we actually see the Firefox, and it’s fantastic. It almost took my breath away. Not because the plane was so magnificent, even though the plane was pretty fucking cool.
Roger [01:12:04] Well, that life size mockup is wonderful.
Quentin [01:12:06] That life size mockup was amazing, and it works. It had a feeling it had a it had an “Ooooh” that I didn’t feel the first time, at the movie theater.
Roger [01:12:16] Also that design, at that time period. For an airplane to look like that, when we were just starting to experiment with stealth airplanes and things like that. That was the sort of thing that we were told to be afraid of, in terms of the Russians: this kind of technological advancement that we were trying to do.
Quentin [01:12:36] So then he steals the airplane. Now, look, I will admit that even back in ’82 when I saw the movie- I’ve worked with John Dykstra quite a bit, and I’m the biggest John Dykstra fan. Whenever John Dykstra works for me, I’m starstruck the entire time I’m around him.
Roger [01:12:54] Well, yeah, he’s a superstar.
Quentin [01:12:55] He’s a superstar. Having said that, back in ’82, I thought this Firefox dogfight stuff was a little chintzy.
Roger [01:13:06] Well, it’s looking like Battlestar Galactica, if I’m honest. The movie is playing this kind of dark Ludlum realism, and then suddenly you’re in Battlestar Galactica.
Quentin [01:13:16] The thing about it, what was probably really, really difficult for him, is the thing that we take for granted: the fact that it’s taking place in Earth’s atmosphere and the fact that he’s got to get all those trees and all that landmass and all that water reflected in the cockpit windows and the visor of the helmet and everything. But the part that really works, is when it cuts to the ground when he’s flying low and you see the effect that the Firefox has. On the water, when it flies by the water or on the earth and it just rips it like two plows. Like two supersonic plows, just cutting through a forest.
Roger [01:13:53] Or when it’s going through the ocean or it’s kicking up snow and the afterburners are just blowing the stuff up.
Quentin [01:14:02] That stuff is thrilling.
Roger [01:14:02] Oh, it looks like they went out into the ocean and set charges; long rows of charges and then exploded them in sequence and then composited the plane in, and you see that and you look at the attention to detail and the care that went into creating that composite shot. It’s really beautiful.
Quentin [01:14:20] It’s craftsmanship and again, it’s not a bunch of dorks fucking around with a computer that says matte lines. They’re filming things; this is handmade. There’s even an interesting aspect to the chase itself, because part of the thing about the film is that there’s a prototype for Firefox that’s not mounted with weapons. So the idea is to blow up the prototype and during that confusion, that’s when Eastwood will steal the jet. But they do all that, but they don’t destroy the prototype. So they’re able to take the pilot who is supposed to go up in Firefox and they mount weapons on that plane and they send it after him. Now, the way it’s set up, he can be fueled in midair and you can’t.
Roger [01:15:07] That gives him a jump.
Quentin [01:15:08] Yeah. The whole problem in the first half of the race that Eastwood has to deliver is that he can’t fly Firefox out full on at Mach 5. He has to stay at mach 2 so he doesn’t piss away his gasoline, and he’s got to fly low. He’s got to do everything he can to not just crash in the Arctic waters.
Roger [01:15:29] He’s gotta fly low to the Ural Mountains to make his way up to the Arctic Circle.
Quentin [01:15:33] Yeah. So when he gets to the Arctic Circle and once he gets gasoline in him, now he can just go balls out.
Roger [01:15:38] Yeah, and then we really see Firefox going crazy.
Quentin [01:15:40] Yeah, but the whole first three quarters of the trip, to get out of Russian airspace, he has to be in second gear and he can’t get out of second gear. Then this movie has its second coolest bit once Eastwood takes it. That is when the Boris Yeltsin/Brezhnev guy, his name is Stefan Schnabel.
Roger [01:16:08] A career playing Russians.
Quentin [01:16:10] Yeah. Well, he looks like Boris Yeltsin, so of course, he has a career playing Russian. He’s the secretary. I actually had forgotten this part in the movie, even though they built a lot of the TV spots around it. [doing a line from Firefox] “I am speaking to the pilot who has stolen a jet airplane.”
Roger [01:16:30] “I’m going to ask you to kindly. I’m going to ask you to return it. First, I ask you.”
Quentin [01:16:36] Eastwood actually says the only good line Eastwood has. “And so then we’ll just forget about it?” I would not lie to you that blatantly. What I will say is you will be alive.
Roger [01:16:51] “You’ll be allowed to live.”
Quentin [01:16:52] “Because you will die, if you keep going.”
Roger [01:16:57] But the problem with that, that guy is so good. He’s such a great villain and he has a rapport with Eastwood. But by then they’ve thrown away Nicol Williamson Jr.
Quentin [01:17:04] No, no. That’s where it starts getting wonky. The German actor is Klaus Löwitsch. He’s given the job where everybody else is the Doubting Thomas about Eastwood’s ability. He’s the smart Russian that realizes that Eastwood could possibly pull this off. So he’s the balding map pointer outer who must babble the endless counter pursuit tactics in an accent that is damn close to unintelligible.
Roger [01:17:33] [doing what I can only imagine is an impression of the character they’re discussing]
Quentin [01:17:39] He’s the one saying all the counter pursuit tactics and you don’t understand a fucking thing he says. This guy’s got to do all the talking?! Forget about the fact that he sounds German, he doesn’t sound Russian. But he’s just-
Roger [01:17:54] He sounds like Elmer Fudd.
Quentin [01:17:56] Like a German Elmer Fudd.
Roger [01:17:57] And like, why do they give all of that exposition and all of that to him? It becomes his movie, all of a sudden.
Quentin [01:18:04] Because you want either the Brezhnev guy (the Boris Yeltsin guy) to be talking this way or bring back Kenneth Colley. Bring back baby Nicol Williamson Jr., aka Ernie Williams. Bring back the low rent younger brother. It’s a real drag that he’s thrown out of the movie.
Roger [01:18:22] It would have also made a lot more sense, if the Russian military guys were like, “Oh, no, we got him, we got him. No problem, we got him.” Then the premier guy (who kind of knows Eastwood’s character more) is like, “No, no, we don’t have him.” He’s the one who believes he’s not the military guy.
Quentin [01:18:39] He’s not just coming from a military point of view, he’s coming from a more psychological place. He has other fish to fry than just the military, where, to a hammer everything looks like a nail.
Roger [01:18:50] Even cinematically, to an American audience, then it’s the idea of, “Well, the Russian military might be operating on a different level than the premier.
Quentin [01:18:57] Like we said, that one little moment that he talks to Eastwood on the microphone, he has a connection with them. Yeah, that’s actually a lot.
Roger [01:19:05] And you want that to continue. You want that connection. You want that personal touch between the two.
Quentin [01:19:11] I think the movie has fantastic exposition. All the exposition scenes are so much fun.
Roger [01:19:19] You must be talking about Freddy Jones.
Quentin [01:19:20] I’m talking about Freddy Jones.
Roger [01:19:24] He deserves an award, in this one.
Quentin [01:19:28] So ridiculously hammy. Yet that’s who you want to deliver big exposition, and the exposition is fun.
Roger [01:19:36] He’s the one who’s working for the Americans as their advisor.
Quentin [01:19:40] All the description of what Firefox can do is really fun. It’s really exciting. I mean, you have to understand: it’s almost crazy that the film tries to get a little realistic in the Eastwood behind enemy lines stuff, because everything beforehand is so incredibly preposterous. One, that the Russians would be able to build Firefox in the first place. It would probably bankrupt Russia, if they built 2 Firefoxes.
Roger [01:20:07] It’s long been in American fear, like, The Hunt for Red October is also a submarine with baffles.
Quentin [01:20:14] The fact that a jet airplane would change the balance of power between the two countries. That if Russia were to mass produce Firefox, that would be it; meaning the balance of power would be completely tipped over. They would never be able to mass produce Firefox! I’m serious. Russia didn’t have money at that time. They would have bankrupted themselves making two! Forget about mass production. America can mass produce it, Russia never could. But that’s almost like a time machine aspect about it, it’s from a time when we actually thought Russia had enough money to beat us, even at our own game.
Roger [01:20:55] Well, if you were to make this movie today, just pretend it’s China. Pretend it’s the hypersonic scramjet that they just-
Quentin [01:21:03] They did not have a Howard Hughes in Russia. They did not have a Lockheed. They did not have a TRW. They didn’t have any of these things.
Roger [01:21:11] You know, you mention the whole PTSD aspect of this movie; the Behind Enemy Lines aspect of it, which is Eastwood’s character who has been – Presumably it’s Vietnam.
Quentin [01:21:22] Yeah.
Roger [01:21:23] He’s a Vietnam vet. He’s been a pilot. He’s been shot down. In fact, he’s been shot down in a situation almost identically similar to Admiral James Stockdale, who’s shot down over enemy lines and ends up spending seven years at the Hanoi Hilton. I got to know him really, really well.
Quentin [01:21:43] It seems like a weird mix of James Stockdale and Chuck Norris.
Roger [01:21:47] Yeah, Chuck Norris. These are popular movies at this time. Then while he’s in captivity and about to be taken to some hellhole-
Quentin [01:22:01] The rat-infested water torture place from The Deer Hunter.
Roger [01:22:05] He’s about to experience [yelling in fake Vietnamese], he’s about to experience [sarcastically] that pleasure.
Quentin [01:22:13] “Michael, there’s all these rats in here.” Which is John Savage saying “Michael Cimino, there’s all these rats in here.”
Roger [01:22:28] [director voice] “Use it. Use them. That’s your tool. That’s your actor’s tool.”
Quentin [01:22:31] It just so happened that Robert De Niro’s character’s name was Michael, too. So they were able to keep it in. So it worked out fine.
Roger [01:22:40] One of my problems with that is that they keep using as is his Kryptonite. This is his weakness. Whenever anything happens, like when the helicopters are landing to give him the mission and he has a PTSD moment. Whenever anything stressful happens and he’s about to take off in the Firefox, he’s in a shower beforehand and getting dressed up as the pilot in this crazy red tile shower
Quentin [01:23:08] In this super amazing shower from an Icelandic spa.
Roger [01:23:15] Yeah, it’s amazing, with a special tile job and everything. He’s in there and he’s having PTSD, with the alarms are going off and everything. So this is supposed to be his kryptonite. This is supposed to be what stops him. Even at the final moment when he’s in the airplane, suddenly he’s got another bout of PTSD where he sees the little girl’s face.
Quentin [01:23:36] When he’s freefalling.
Roger [01:23:37] Oh, yeah, freefalling and unable to do anything until he comes out of it. Well, because he’s a pilot and because it was Vietnam, he could have been a pilot in Vietnam and he could have been somebody who was sent in to fly in and blow up the-
Quentin [01:23:52] Carpet bomb.
Roger [01:23:53] Carpet bomb the Kaesong Delta or something like that. He goes in, he does his job, but he drops bombs knowing that there’s a village of people there. You don’t have to go full Missing In Action. That would be enough, I think, for him to say, “I don’t want to fly again. I definitely don’t want to fly a combat plane. I don’t want to drop bombs on people. I don’t want to drop napalm on people. I’m still traumatized by this.” That seems like that would have been enough. I feel like the connection between the airplane and the trauma becomes removed at that point.
Quentin [01:24:24] Yeah, I agree with that. Like many things in the movie; it’s a hokey device and the more they emphasize it, the hokier it gets.
Roger [01:24:33] The fact that at the very end, he’s been firing missiles with his brain and using this thing to fly around, no problem. They’ve made this big deal out of it, “You’ve got to think in Russian,” but they really only use that device at the very, very end where he’s got to fire the Derry air missile or whatever they call it. I almost think he says it in French, I heard French. I heard him say derriere.
Quentin [01:24:54] He fired some missiles before, I think he just gets he gets excited so he starts thinking in English.
Roger [01:25:00] He says it out loud so that we can hear.
Quentin [01:25:02] [doing a Clint Eastwood impression] “Why aren’t you working? Goddammit!”
Roger [01:25:06] If he had been unable to engage those early missiles and then really had to dig deep to his primal self, his childhood self who spoke in Russian to be able to do it then maybe it would have worked. As it was, they sort of just left it till the very end.
Quentin [01:25:22] One of the other awkward things about the movie is its abrupt ending. I remember that in the theater, people were like, “Uhh okay,” and then they got up.
Roger [01:25:32] “Oh, I guess it’s over.”
Quentin [01:25:34] I was expecting them to land. That I’d see David Hoffman again and Frank Jones going, “Haha, he did it, my boy.” But no, it’s just over. We’re done. We’re done.
Roger [01:25:43] What I do love about the movie is how brutal it is. Like for instance, he plays a replacement of a drug dealer. His character is replacing somebody who’s a drug deale, and they get that actual drug dealer-
Quentin [01:25:55] And then they beat him to death with a hammer?
Roger [01:25:58] Yeah, with like a hammer like that Dim guy from Clockwork Orange. He just beats the fucking life out of the guy and throws him into the water and is mortified. He’s like, “Oh, my God, what are you doing?” He can’t believe it.
Quentin [01:26:11] No, I actually like the whole thing that he doesn’t trust his handlers for a while because he just saw them murder somebody.
Roger [01:26:21] Eastwood allows there to be an additional shot of the guy going in and double tapping, you know, “Let’s make sure the guy’s dead.”
Quentin [01:26:28] Then later, the pudgy van driver, Warren Clark (the Clockwork Orange guy), who’s the sensitive Russian and he’s the good Russian.
Roger [01:26:43] [Russian accent] “I’m doing it for my wife.”
Quentin [01:26:44] He tells his normal truck driving partner, ‘Don’t go in to work today” and so Eastwood now has the phony identity of this other truck driver. So the KGB just goes and gets the truck driver out of bed and then they proceed to beat him to death, in actually a scene so violent that it stayed with me for the next half hour of the movie.
Roger [01:27:05] Yeah, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And then that moment where the guy’s like, “But you told me, like, you know, you’ve killed him!” “But you told me to. It’s your fault.” But then they show that guy’s face. It’s just disfigured!
Quentin [01:27:21] He’s beating him to death with these crazy leather gloves and then they go, “But you told me to beat him” and then Kenneth Cole just slaps him upside the head.
Roger [01:27:35] The fact that you were in this hard-boiled reality, that’s actually what I had forgotten about the movie and what I loved about the movie is like.
Quentin [01:27:43] To me, the hokey stuff doesn’t take away from the fun of the movie because there’s a hokey quality to the Cold War anyway back then in the eighties, and there’s a hokey quality to the us versus the Russians kind of movie anyway. So I’m kind of okay with all that. But the strongest thing about the movie is all the exposition scenes that both David Hoffman and then the other actors playing, the generals and especially Freddy Jones has, they’re just enjoyable.
Roger [01:28:09] Freddy Jones is amazing in this movie.
Quentin [01:28:11] The best dialog in the whole movie is the exposition. So much fun to watch.
Roger [01:28:15] He’s so much fun to much fun to watch in this movie.
Quentin [01:28:16] But now, okay, so this is a science fiction film, but this came out in the summer of ’82. July of ’82, I think what easily goes down now as the greatest sci fi summer of all time, this is what came out the same summer. Same summer as Firefox.
Roger [01:28:41] Only in the summer.
Quentin [01:28:44] E.T.
Roger [01:28:44] Oh, my God.
Quentin [01:28:46] Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan
Roger [01:28:48] Wow.
Quentin [01:28:49] I actually think John Carpenter’s The Thing opened on the same day as Firefox.
Roger [01:28:55] Yeah, that makes sense.
Quentin [01:28:56] Blade Runner, Tron, Road Warrior. The sci fi summer of all time.
Roger [01:29:06] Yeah. We were so spoiled. We didn’t know how good we had it.
Quentin [01:29:14] I’m going to read, from the L.A. Reader, the review of Firefox.
Roger [01:29:19] And you’re reading from an actual L.A. reader that is yellowed.
Quentin [01:29:22] Yes, I am.
Roger [01:29:23] It is like those people that live in a hoarder house that have newspapers up to the ceiling. Quentin has L.A. readers.
Quentin [01:29:33] Hey, hey, hey. I resemble that remark. This is David Estherstein: “Taking the form of a spy adventure thriller, this feature length salute to the Reagan administration’s resumption of the Cold War is clearly designed to encourage select numbers of the unemployed to believe that a brighter future awaits inside the cockpit of one of those shiny new bombers that middle income taxpayers are presently paying through the nose for.” Okay, already this is starting off-
Roger [01:30:03] He’s politicizing his review
Quentin [01:30:05] Such a political point for such a hokey, ridiculous movie. “But try as it might, this pinhead programmer never gets off the ground. The Russians, according to producer director star Clint Eastwood and his cohorts, are now so far advanced of the United States that they’ve got a super bomber whose capabilities threaten to (gasp) shift the balance of world power. The only way to turn the tide is to steal the plane out from under them and ex Vietnam vet Clint is, you guessed it, the only man for the job.
[01:30:40] Not since Frank Lovejoy stopped being a communist for the FBI has so much blatant propaganda hogged a movie screen. The difference is that Firefox is nowhere near as entertaining as such McCarthy-era delights As Women on Pier 13 or Shack Out on One on One.” Well, I will admit it’s not as Shack Out on One on One. That is a terrific movie. “It’s a long trek through spy routines that look like Disney rewrites of John le Carre before reaching a finale whose special effects aren’t likely to draw the masses away from the likes of asteroids or Donkey Kong.”
Roger [01:31:12] Wow. That’s a really brutal.
Quentin [01:31:14] But also so it shows it’s politicalness to such a degree that it almost can be discounted
Roger [01:31:20] Which actually leads me to ask: this is Eastwood making this and we know where Eastwood is, politically, is this personal propaganda or is this corporate propaganda? It’s a studio film.
Quentin [01:31:32] I think it’s popcorn propaganda.
Roger [01:31:35] But it’s being made by studio and it’s fulfilling a kind of need.
Quentin [01:31:38] It’s a fine line. He’s doesn’t buy this “Russians is Nazis,” he’s making a programmer. It’s a good idea. That’s why we all went and saw it on opening weekend. It’s popcorn propaganda. There’s no real dog in this fight, at least not towards Russia, which is one of his biggest markets. I also have one of my favorite critics, Jim Sheldon, who wrote for the porno rag: The Hollywood Press. In the June 25th, 1982 edition: “Firefox is a misfire, an intriguing premise: an emotionally scarred pilot is seduced out of self-imposed Alaska retirement to enter Russia and nab a prototype plane with Mach five speed through thought control powered weapons and anti-radar extras is blown through over length (138 minutes), overly dark lensing and overwrought commie accents from an international cast.”
Roger [01:32:37] Yeah, well, he got it right there.
Quentin [01:32:39] “Not to mention over exposition and under-utilized special effects of extreme unevenness, supervised by John Dykstra, who was ripping off his own Star Wars dogfight’s best work. Sorry, Clint. C-minus.” He’s being an asshole. Which was Jim Sheldon’s want. So, Gala, what do you think?
Gala [01:33:21] [greetings in Russian] Sorry, guys. This is a snooze fest for me. There was so much exposition. At the beginning of it, I kind of enjoyed the exposition, but it takes way too long to get to the plane. I felt let down by the very quick ending and by the time they got to the plane, I was really bored. I don’t know why the Russian pilot doesn’t just think in Russian. He knows Russian. I don’t know why Eastwood has an upper hand on him somehow. I don’t really get it. Why is there no discussion of Clint Eastwood’s character’s past, at all, while he’s going through Russia?
Quentin [01:34:00] You’re talking about how long this movie is, you want 20 minutes more?
Roger [01:34:03] You mean his past in that he was born in Russia.
Gala [01:34:05] The fact that he was born in Russia, anything to give him any kind of value.
Roger [01:34:09] But you’re always questing for the character; a character and their past.
Quentin [01:34:14] I said that he doesn’t have a character in this.
Roger [01:34:17] But he does and they ignore it, is the point. The idea that he had a mother in Russia, maybe his mother still in Russia, for example. That’s something that could have been mined and used.
Quentin [01:34:29] You are all adding to the 138 minutes!
Gala [01:34:33] Well, Quentin, there’s lots of stuff I could cut out of there, that’s for sure. Next, the PTSD is plot based, not character based. He has no growth, whatsoever over the film through his PTSD. They only bring it up when they just want him to take a pause. I felt like they only brought up his PTSD when they didn’t want him in the scene, like when they had the big explosion. He’s in the shower taking this 30 minute long, nice spa shower.
Quentin [01:35:00] That’s a plot point. “I got to take a three hour shower? Yes, I do.”
Gala [01:35:06] In this amazing spa.
Quentin [01:35:07] I’m buying what you’re selling, but you can’t use false equivalents.
Gala [01:35:10] That’s just how I feel.
Quentin [01:35:11] No, it’s a plot point. He has to kill 3 hours.
Roger [01:35:15] That was a horrible plot point, they really shoed that in there.
Quentin [01:35:19] No, it’s actually one of the more realistic ones because all this shit’s not going to happen on a fucking timetable.
Gala [01:35:25] He must have been really pruny when he got into that airplane.
Quentin [01:35:28] That the point! He actually says, “I got to take a shower.” And they’re like, “Yeah, do it. Hide in the fucking air vent, whatever, but hang out for three fucking hours and be ready to get in the goddamn suit when I say.”
Gala [01:35:40] And just lastly, I just feel like in this movie, Clint Eastwood’s character needed something besides the United States of America to fight for. I feel like the opening of this movie reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, which I really enjoy that movie. But Arnold Schwarzenegger has his daughter that he’s fighting for. What does Clint Eastwood have? All he is in this movie is a tool. His PTSD is proof of that. He’s just a tool of the American government. They never showed any character growth or inkling that he understands that and he doesn’t have anything to fight for. He has no wife, no mother, no child.
Quentin [01:36:14] He’s fighting for America. He’s trying to stop the imbalance of power.
Roger [01:36:18] That sounds very boring.
Gala [01:36:19] “As a patriot for the United States of America” just doesn’t cut it for me.
Quentin [01:36:23] Look I find that vaguely disingenuous, your last point. For the simple fact (and I’m not saying you’re being disingenuous per se, because I actually believe you believe it) that, everybody who bought a ticket to see the movie is down with the mission; because we knew what the mission was. That’s why we bought a ticket to see the movie. So I don’t think I needed anything more than he’s stealing the plane for America.
Roger [01:36:45] Oh, you mean that it doesn’t have to be personal in any way.
Quentin [01:36:48] I don’t think that it had to be. Where I don’t agree with Gala is that she’s coming from where everybody else was coming from when the film came out, I was like, “Enough of this. I’m just not into it. This is just too long and dragging and sluggish.” I didn’t feel that way.
Gala [01:37:03] But did you feel that way upon first viewing?
Quentin [01:37:05] Of course I did.
Gala [01:37:06] So maybe it’s just because it’s my first viewing. I’m a 26 year old girl watching on my computer.
Roger [01:37:12] Yeah, that’ll do it.
Gala [01:37:15] The thing is, they say, “Clint Eastwood, we need you. You’re the best man for the job.” I just don’t see why he is.
Roger [01:37:20] Yeah, he’s got problems.
Gala [01:37:22] He has problems, he has no character growth whatsoever.
Roger [01:37:23] When they first meet him, he’s nonfunctional. He’s sitting there gripping a shotgun, sweating, unable to pull himself into reality.
Quentin [01:37:29] You would think that that would disqualify him from the mission, when they’re actually standing there, looking at him. “Are you okay? What the fuck?”
Roger [01:37:40] “What the fuck is wrong with you, dude?”
Quentin [01:37:41] He’s shivering in the fucking corner naked, practically. But having said that, I actually did think the spy aspect (the Robert Ludlum, John le Carre aspect) of it actually worked. And like I said, I enjoyed the storytelling of it. I actually thought there was a commitment to storytelling direction. Frankly, to tell you the truth, I don’t see enough storytelling direction. I see bad storytelling or no storytelling at all, so to actually see a director who actually tells the story well, that’s becoming a dodo bird.
Roger [01:38:21] On my viewing of this with you, Quentin, I kind of felt the same way. I was much more accepting of this Ludlum, human package being delivered person to person to person to person to person to person like so many links of a chain until he finally gets there.
Quentin [01:38:38] Then all this horrible violence you see during it.
Roger [01:38:41] And how he’s reacting to it.
Quentin [01:38:42] There’s a terrific fight scene in the bathroom, where he just batters the guy to death. He just bashes his head in.
Roger [01:38:49] Eastwood is one of those guys who, even as an old man- and I like that he’s playing it as like “I’m an old man in this” even though he’s as ripped as anybody. Like wen he’s shirtless there in the water at the beginning.
Quentin [01:39:00] Oh, he’s a Rodin sculpture.
Roger [01:39:02] Yeah. But when you see Eastwood beating a guy up, it looks like Eastwood could beat that guy up.
Quentin [01:39:08] Eastwood is gonna give you 6 pile driving shot to the face in a row.
Roger [01:39:12] Yeah, it looks real.
Quentin [01:39:13] It looks like he bashed his fucking head in, which he did.
Roger [01:39:15] Yeah. On this viewing of the movie, I allowed myself to get into it. I felt a little bit like Jim Sheldon there when (listen and, you know, I love Dykstra but) we went from that Ludlum darkly lit crushed blacks cinematography and moving from place to place, travelogue style-
Quentin [01:39:35] Bruce Surtees, the King of Darkness.
Roger [01:39:39] Yeah, yeah. He is the king of darkness because everything is crushed black, black, black, black, black. The darks are dark, the night is night. You go from that to Dijkstra, who is making his own movie on the side in his free time. He’s having a blast. It’s a different movie that he’s making. I don’t like it any less, necessarily, but it’s a different movie and that’s a tonal shift that’s a little funky to take once you get into the air and you’re just rolling with it.
Quentin [01:40:12] Look, I just think we’re responding to the intricacies of the human spy story. You’re asking for more human touches and I think they’re there. But they’re in the cloak and dagger aspect of the spy story, rather than back story.
Gala [01:40:25] I did enjoy the movie exposition wise and him being handed off up until he’s in the van, being driven. At that point I kind of just lost it, I got bored. I was like, “Where’s the airplane?”
Roger [01:40:36] Too much of the shuttling from one person to another.
Quentin [01:40:40] We had a funny thing when we were watching it, because they stay with Warren Clark’s pudgy van driver. There’s actually a weird little chase that happens, where they send the KGB to stop them. That on one hand, it’s not a great chase, but on the other hand, it seems like a realistic chase to some degree. But he ends up killing the KGB guys in a very convenient way, but he ends up getting shot at the same time. So he crashes the van and then you see him making his way and he’s wounded and they’re sending dogs.
Roger [01:41:16] Climbing through barbed wire fences.
Quentin [01:41:18] Trees and climbing up mountains. The KGB cops, or just Russian cops, and dogs are after him and Roger goes “It’s really kind of interesting that they’re following this guy’s story to such a degree. There’s kind of a compassion, that they’re following his story this way.”
Roger [01:41:20] As if we care.
Quentin [01:41:20] Yeah, and then I said, “Well, his story will either link up to something larger or they’re just miscalculating how much we care about this one” and later and it did link up. It did link up, And I have to say, I kind of like that moment. I won’t ruin what the moment is, but when it did but wish fulfillment in Firefox and the pudgy van driver actually are connected together. That worked. It’s corny, but it worked.
Roger [01:42:11] And one of the reasons it works is because that actor, I’m sure he’s the one who went out and said, “I need something, I need a wife. He needs what Clint Eastwood doesn’t have. I need a wife that I’m doing this for. She’s in a gulag somewhere.”
Quentin [01:42:28] [Russian accent] “I’ve spent the last seven years proving to be worthy of her.” Okay. That’s it for Firefox.
Roger [01:42:36] Enough of Firefox.
Gala [01:42:38] For anyone interested in seeing Firefox, it is available literally everywhere. I bought my VHS on eBay, a Warner Brothers copy, for $4.99 and Video Archives, bought theirs for $69.99.
Quentin [01:42:50] Right on. So now as we wrap up this show, we have one more film.
Roger [01:43:03] A little bonus.
Quentin [01:43:05] A little bonus, a little beautifully putrid gem that came my way. Blew my fucking mind. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. Needed to have Roger see it.
Roger [01:43:15] Yeah. He calls me up and he’s like, “Dude. You’ve got to come over. You’ve got to see this.”
Quentin [01:43:19] The movie is called Delirium. We’re not going to go into a whole big super thing on it, because part of the thing about the movie is that the script takes a few left turns and you should not know the left turns before you see it.
Roger [01:43:34] Yeah, that is the charm of the movie. You think it’s this and then it’s that.
Quentin [01:43:39] It’s a regional film made out of St. Louis, directed by a fellow named Peter Maris, who ended up doing a lot of straight to video action movies. However, this actually played theatrically. How do I know? Because I almost saw it. If you’re interested in checking out Delirium, I would recommend- I’ll just read the back of the box.
Roger [01:44:00] Who put that tape out and what year was Delirium?
Quentin [01:44:02] Oh, yeah, yeah. Okay. This is an Academy Home Video. Cheap company back then, but actually by the nineties, they were actually producing movies. I will read the first quarter of the back of Delirium: “Charlie is a psycho. His twisted mind drives him to butcher beautiful young women. Tormented by his past, he brutally murders again and again. He must be stopped. But how?” I didn’t go to drive-ins that often, usually when I went to a drive in on my own in the eighties, it was usually because they were showing some movie as a second feature that you couldn’t find anywhere else, or it was a triple feature. So like three exploitation movies back to back: Sleepaway Camp and Brain Damage and Delirium. That actually might have been the triple feature, frankly, to tell you the truth. So I went to see them, and then Delirium was the third movie and I’d never heard of it, but sounds like a horror film. I started watching it, and it was the third film. It’s like 11:00, 11:30 at night. I was tired and the movie looked like the same thing I’d seen a zillion times before: just a maniac killer, killing one woman after another and awkward cops discussing the case. So I thought, “Okay, fuck this shit. I’m going to stay here for this?” So I drove away. When I’m watching Delirium, I did not recognize the title, but I recognized Charlie. So when I was watching the movie, I was like, “Wait a minute. This is that drive in movie.” Once Charlie stole the car, that’s when I realized, “Oh, this is that movie I walked out on. I drove out of this. I drove out of the bottom of the triple feature,” because I recognized Charlie.
Roger [01:46:02] Headlights on, you’re going over all the bumps in the drive in.
Quentin [01:46:05] Then I recognized the title, and I recognized Charlie. It was the driving scene. That was when I realized, “Holy shit.” Little did I know how wrong I was by leaving the movie, because I thought it would be one note.
Roger [01:46:17] This is really a movie that if you’re looking for it and you’re listening to this right now and you’re like, “I’m going to look it up and I’m going to look up information on it.” You might not want to.
Quentin [01:46:27] Yeah, yeah. Actually, there’s a new Blu-Ray of it that just came out. Do not read the back of it. Do not read any advertisements on it. Do not go to Letterbox trying to find it.
Roger [01:46:37] Because the only reason to watch this movie is for these fantastic kind of tonal shifts.
Quentin [01:46:41] For this script to take you places you don’t expect to go.
Roger [01:46:46] It’s literally, “Oh, what?” I literally turned to you in the middle of this movie and said, “Is this what I think it is?”
Quentin [01:46:54] Okay. So one of the reasons why the film is so surprising by the turns it takes is because it’s a woman hating maniac on a rampage.
Roger [01:47:06] “Man runs amuck.”
Quentin [01:47:06] Yeah. It’s not a slasher film. He’s not a slasher film character, nor is it a serial killer movie. He’s not a serial killer, per say. There’s nothing realistic, he’s a Vietnam veteran and he’s got problems. So he does have a psychological aspect to why he’s doing what he’s doing, but they’re not investing big time in the psychological aspect like Norman Bates or like the lead character in Don’t Go in the House. Even though he has a psychological bit, he’s just a woman hating maniac killer on a rampage. He kills a woman, he walks down the street and he keeps going till he bumps into another woman. Then he kills her, and then he bumps into some other people. He kills them. He bumps into another woman. He kills her. Now, it just so happens that on this killer’s path, they managed to find young girls wearing short shorts, that periodically show up every 20 minutes.
Roger [01:48:05] They’re all blond. It’s a universe of blond people.
Quentin [01:48:08] Well, the hitchhiker’s not blond.
Roger [01:48:10] I guess, yeah the hitchhiker is a brunette.
Quentin [01:48:11] The movie sets itself up that that is what it’s going to be: the killer is just going out, wiping out all these women. Then there’s the cops, who knows that this killer is out there and they’re starting their investigation; and there’s a woman who who actually knows what he looks like, who kind of turns them on to who this guy is. So now they got to protect her. But the thing about the murders that the guy’s doing; one of the things I like about the murders, is the fact that there is a real- I’ve used the word cynical and nihilistic in a bad way, in talking about Moonraker. Here, I’m using it in a good way because it’s a nasty piece of work, the whole first 20 minutes in the movie. It’s not trying to be a slasher film, it’s not trying to be a maniac movie, it’s not trying to be a serial killer movie. It has the feeling and the nastiness of an early seventies roughie about a killer. What a roughie is, were early X-rated movies that they came out with in the late sixties and the early seventies. While they had a sexual vibe, they also had a violence vibe. They’re actually emphasizing the misogyny of it. Now, I like that in this movie. I like the fact that it’s rough and it’s tough. It’s a little queasy feeling.
Roger [01:49:36] Yeah, it has that kind of I Spit on Your Grave aesthetic.
Quentin [01:49:40] Yeah, but even that’s almost too far on the higher end. But yes, you’re right. One of the things I like about that, in terms of this movie, aside from the fact that I like roughness like that (especially in violence) is that it also sets you up for the one note quality of the thing. “Well it’s just going to be him just killing this one and this one and this one and these stupid cops trying to figure out who he is.” And I’ve seen many movies where that’s the whole film.
Roger [01:50:13] When it started, what I was thinking in my head was, “Why does Quentin think this is so special? It’s like everything else.” I was kind of humoring you, too, at the beginning, and I was just getting into the very good, practical gags that they do. Which were good for a little regional movie, a low budget movie made at this time period.
Quentin [01:50:33] The killer is a guy named Charlie. He doesn’t say a word in the whole film. I’m not saying the guy’s giving a good performance, but he’s effective. By sticking to his one note performance, it accumulates and the cops get better and better. A lot of these regional movies, they shoot them more or less in order and you can see these untrained actors be awkward at the beginning, but you see them warming up to it. You see them getting better and better. You see them getting more comfortable being on camera, having a good time and kind of getting into it. I actually ended up by mid movie, I end up really liking those cops. I actually thought they were pretty good. I really like the lead girl in it too. But it’s one note aspect of it is part of its effect, because the movie has other fish to fry. It has more of a story to tell.
Roger [01:51:25] Which we cannot get into.
Quentin [01:51:26] No, because that’s going to ruin your enjoyment of it.
Roger [01:51:29] Which is so frustrating for me, because those moments are so interesting.
Quentin [01:51:32] That’s the stuff you want to get more in detail about.
Roger [01:51:36] Those are the things that absolutely make this movie 100% personal propaganda as opposed to corporate propaganda.
Quentin [01:51:43] And it stays with you.
Roger [01:51:45] It has something to say, this movie.
Quentin [01:51:48] And Peter Maris does a really good job.
Roger [01:51:50] I never heard of peter Maris. Who is he? I mean, I know it’s a small regional movie.
Quentin [01:51:57] This is his first movie. But he ends up directing quite a few movies that go straight to video, all leading up into the nineties. I’ve watched the first half hour of one of them, kind of a big budget movie for him, called Hang Fire with Jan-Michael Vincent and Brad Davis and a whole slew of slumming, supporting actors. That’s a pretty good movie. One thing is kind of funny about Peter Maris, his later career is that he seems to stay on the same story. One movie is called Terror Squad, is a bunch of Libyan terrorists take over a nuclear power plant and Chuck Connors has to stop ’em.
Roger [01:52:35] Yeah, who else?
Quentin [01:52:37] Then this movie, Hang Fire: a bunch of escaped convicts take over a town and Brad Davis, the sheriff, has to stop them. Then another one is with John Schneider. It’s called Ministry of Vengeance. John plays a priest, and a bunch of Arab terrorists kill his wife and he goes on a rampage.
Roger [01:52:55] That sounds great. I would totally see that movie. That sounds awesome.
Quentin [01:52:59] Me too. There’s one with Linda Pearl and James Token, the bald guy from Top Gun. The guy who’s always rubbing his head and can’t believe them. I can’t wait to watch Hangfire with Roger so we can actually watch Peter Maris with a budget, the closest thing he’ll ever come to a genuine Hollywood production.
Roger [01:53:25] I don’t think this is giving too much away, and I think we already said it, Charlie is a Vietnam vet. They have that great gag with the guy going on the hand grenade.
Quentin [01:53:35] Well, also, one of the things that makes me appreciate Delirium, big time, is one of the things that I love in cheap movies: cheap movies doing Vietnam flashbacks. I never do not like cheap movies doing Vietnam flashback. The cheaper, the better.
Roger [01:53:54] Yeah. In the brush outside of St. Louis, that’s Vietnam.
Quentin [01:53:59] Yes, so whether it’s Delirium or Thou Shalt Not Kill Except… Frankly, the only cheap movie to pull off a Vietnam flashback that actually is legit, is Brotherhood of Death. They have a really good Vietnam flashback. The thing about Delirium that is absolutely, positively ridiculous is the entire story you hear about him the night before, because you just see him as a raving lunatic. That every woman he sees he kills. But apparently the night before, he’s vibing with a girl and they’re really hitting it off and he’s partying with her and her roommate. Who the fuck is that guy? It never mentions what set him off to such a degree that now he’s just a Terminator on kill mode.
Roger [01:54:57] [laughing]
Quentin [01:54:57] I will mention one thing, a scene that doesn’t give away anything, because it’s a pretty good scene. It’s the scene that actually got me invested in the movie, as a movie. The girl tells the whole story about how she’s a secretary, and the guy came asking for a job and then he was led into his boss’s office. Then they had a talk and apparently he filled out a job application, and he comes out and everything seems pretty cool. Sound like he had a good meeting with the boss. Again, we don’t see any of this. This is all just the woman telling us. Then she goes out with her roommate and they’re in a club, or a bar or something, and they come across this guy. They’re like, “Hey, how are you doing?”
[01:55:47] So now they’re hanging out, and then it becomes pretty obvious that the roommate and Charlie are really vibing. So finally the roommate says, “Hey, can you get another ride home? I think I’m going to go off with this guy.” “Oh, yeah, great. Sure. Fine,” and then she goes off, and then she comes home and then finds her roommate dead. Then she starts talking to the cops and saying, “Oh, maybe this Charlie guy did. I don’t know. But it was the last person who was with my roommate, that I know.” “So do you know his last name?” “Well, no, Charlie never said his last name. But he came and saw my boss. He filled out a job application.” “Well, okay.” So they call up the boss, wake him up in the middle of the night, and he kind of stonewalls them. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I talked to the guy, he didn’t really have any references. I threw him out.” “Really? Huh.” So, it’s the next day-
Roger [01:56:34] I actually really like that actor.
Quentin [01:56:35] Yeah. But we don’t see we haven’t met the guy yet. So the cops are like, “Well let’s go down there, let’s talk to the guy personally.” So they go down there and he’s like, “No, I’m sorry, I really can’t help you. He didn’t have any references and I don’t hire anybody without references.” The cops are like, “Your secretary says he was in here long enough that she was under the impression that he filled out a job application.” “No, there’s no point. I mean, without references, there’s no point in hiring him. So I didn’t even bother. I just sent him out.” “Okay. So did he say his last name?”
[01:57:16] “Well, I can’t even remember if he did. I mean, he probably did but I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I don’t remember it.” And the cop goes, “Look, man, this man brutally murdered this woman. It’s terrible what he did to her. It’s the roommate of your own secretary, and you can’t give us any more than that?!” And he’s like, “Well, I’m sorry I can’t remember. I’m sorry, but I can’t.” “You are the only person to see this person, they’re going out there killing people.” “Well, what the hell do you want me to do?” This guy stonewalling the cops is a really good scene. This is when I started liking the cops more, it’s when the acting all took a turn for the better.
Roger [01:58:09] Oh, and later on, even when he’s alone on the phone, when he’s delivering his lines on the phone.
Quentin [01:58:14] I like the guy through the whole movie. He’s getting the guy.
Roger [01:58:17] He’s getting completely agitated, like he’s the only one who’s having to deal with the shit that’s going down. One of things I like about this movie is that, you always hear “man runs amuck, kills two,” and you’re like, “he didn’t really run amuck very well. If I’m going to run amok, I’m going to like kill at least 15 or 20.” Maybe I shouldn’t say that, cut that part.
Quentin [01:58:41] No, don’t cut that out.
Roger [01:58:43] But in this movie, man runs amok.
Quentin [01:59:02] Gala, what did you think of it?
Gala [01:59:03] Let me just reiterate: anyone out there who wants to see this movie, do not look up the description on Letterboxd. It will ruin your viewing experience. This movie was awesome, I loved it. I think it has so much heart and charm, for exactly what it is. Now, mind you, my YouTube rip that I personally watched was so bad that it looked like an impressionist painting. I could not make out any writing on the screen, but I had a lot of fun watching it. The murder in this movie is awesome. The spear, the pitchfork and the bullet holes are amazing.
Quentin [01:59:38] The farm girl is my favorite murder.
Gala [01:59:40] The farm girl, I love because the dogs are just watching her get murdered
Quentin [01:59:45] What kind of farm girl doesn’t have totally badass black dogs that are like, “Hey, you’re messing around with my master. What’s going on here?”
Roger [01:59:53] I’m just going to say, those are animal reactions that you actually liked in this movie.
Quentin [01:59:57] Well, they’re animal non reactions.
Roger [02:00:00] Yeah, that’s true.
Gala [02:00:01] Now, the romance between the cop and the witness, did not really do it for me in this movie.
Quentin [02:00:05] Oh, I liked it. I liked it as it went on.
Gala [02:00:08] But I really liked the cop and I really like the witness, separately. I just didn’t really like them together.
Quentin [02:00:14] I don’t like the football playing guy.
Roger [02:00:17] With his blond hair and dark eyebrows.
Quentin [02:00:19] He probably is some Saint Louis football player.
Roger [02:00:22] Totally. Totally. I love his outfits. What year was this?
Quentin [02:00:29] Probably made in ’78, released in ’79.
Gala [02:00:32] It was released in ’79.
Roger [02:00:34] His wardrobe is so awesome in this. That’s how cops should be forced to dress today.
Quentin [02:00:41] But it’s also it has that neat moment that happens in these regional movies; where the guys are awkward at the beginning and they’re stilted. They’re awkward, but then they get better and better and better as the move goes on.
Roger [02:00:50] They learn how to do it.
Quentin [02:00:51] They learn how to do it. Yeah.
Gala [02:00:53] Now, Quentin, they actually do tell you why the man has run amok: in the scene where he is drowning the woman, he has a flashback to him having erectile dysfunction when he’s having sex with the original girl from the bar. She’s saying, “Don’t worry, it happens to everyone,” and his erectile dysfunction has triggered him to go on his murderous rampage.
Quentin [02:01:13] Okay. Yeah and then even the woman who goes swimming-
Gala [02:01:17] She’s laughing at him
Quentin [02:01:17] She’s just making an innocent comment. “What’s the matter? Do you have a problem with your birthday suit?”
Gala [02:01:22] I love how the hitchhiker just strips naked and gets in the ocean, wanting him to join.
Roger [02:01:26] How it was back then.
Quentin [02:01:28] It wasn’t that way. Not when the guy doesn’t talk to her and almost gets him in a head on collision. “Well, I’m going to go swimming. Hey, by the way, asshole, you almost killed us back there. Well, I’m going to go swimming.”
Gala [02:01:42] That scene was really funny, but, yeah, I think this is a great movie, has a lot of heart. I think anyone who has the chance to pick it up on the Severin Films Blu Ray should do that, as it will be out January 25th.
Quentin [02:01:54] That’s the brand new Blu-Ray that’s coming out?
Gala [02:01:55] The brand new Blu-Ray.
Roger [02:01:58] Severin is putting that out? That’s a good company.
Gala [02:01:59] Yes. But if you’re like me, you can watch it on YouTube or pick up a VHS. I picked up a Paragon Home Video copy.
Quentin [02:02:06] The Paragon is what I wish I had
Gala [02:02:07] For $33.95 on eBay. It is on its way. So when I have it, Quentin, I’ll bring it over so you can look at it.
Quentin [02:02:13] Excellent, excellent, excellent. Well, everybody back out there in radio podcast land, that brings us to the end of this episode. I want to thank Roger.
Roger [02:02:24] Moonraker.
Quentin [02:02:24] [laughing] I want to thank Gala.
Gala [02:02:26] Moonraker.
Quentin [02:02:29] I’d like to thank Roger Moore.
Roger [02:02:31] Moonraker.
Quentin [02:02:34] and our entire team here that are putting this out for your enjoyment. See you next time.
Roger [02:02:40] See you guys, thank you bye
Gala [02:02:51] The Video Archives podcast is hosted by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary, and produced by Josh Richmond and Gala Avary. Our engineer is Devon Torrey Bryant and our executive producers are Colin Anderson and Natalie Mooallem. This episode featured additional production by Raven Goldston. Find out more about the show by heading to VideoArchivespodcast.com.