Moviedrome Mondays: Talk Radio (1988)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to controversial film director Oliver Stone’s 1988 drama Talk Radio. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was May 22, 1994 (read here). Not much to add here except to say that I agree with Cox’s opinion here overall. Lead actor Eric Bogosian is electrifying as always. According to wikipedia, he is not only an actor, but a playwright, monologuist, novelist and historian. In other words, a quintuple threat. The always dynamic Michael Wincott also electrifies as a stoned heavy metal fan.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Talk Radio

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer


12 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: Talk Radio (1988)

  1. Talk Radio is a fantastic film. I love this film. Oliver Stone is my favourite director. I think he’s the greatest director ever. He may be controversial and divisive but at his best he’s a genius filmmaker. I think Talk Radio is one of his best films. I would put it in my top five Stone films.

    It is a truly great film. Stone’s direction is superb although Talk Radio is his most small scale film as it’s based on a stage play and mostly set in the radio station, Stone’s direction is still riveting, particularly helped by the gliding camerawork. The screenplay by Bogosian and Stone is superb. Eric Bogosian is brilliant in the lead. His monologues are brilliantly written and perfomed. Wincott is also a scene stealer as the heavy metal stoner and there is also fine work by Alec Baldwin, John Pankow and John C. McGinley so the acting is first rate across the board.
    Talk Radio is a compelling, powerful and brilliantly done film.

    Overall Talk Radio is a fantastic film and I think one of the best films shown on Alex Cox’s run of Moviedrome. Alex’s intro for it is fantastic too. I think it’s one of his best intros.

  2. Amazing work from Bogosian, in a film that stunned me with its brilliance at the time. Definitely the best of a small genre of ‘communication’ films.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. Alex Cox reports on the release of JFK for the BBC 2 film series Moving Pictures.

  4. Once again, I apologize for the delayed response Steve 🙂 Speaking of Oliver Stone, he released his autobiography last year – you probably have heard of it. The title is “Chasing the Light”. Sounds like you are a big fan of Oliver Stone in the same way I am of Jean-Luc Godard and late British television writer Dennis Potter 🙂

    Talk Radio may be small scale, but yes, Stone makes the most of a single setting with that gliding camera as. you so eloquently state 🙂 As you probably know, I also agree with you on the cast 🙂 Speaking of Bogosian, he was had a role in that great 2019 heist film with Adam Sandler entitled Uncut Gems 🙂

    As to whether or not, Talk Radio ranks in the top 5 of Cox’s intros, I would have to think about it, but there is no denying that it does rank up there with the best of them 🙂

  5. Sorry for the late response Pete 🙂 You are correct though about Bogosian in Talk Radio – as always he is mesmerizing and I could not have stated your sentiments anymore eloquently 🙂 Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  6. Thank you for giving me that youtube video link regarding Alex Cox’s Moving Pictures segment on JFK 🙂 Speaking of Moving Pictures Steve, did you know that they were also behind a documentary on the late great Sam Peckinpah entitled “Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron? 🙂

  7. I’m very pleased to hear you are a huge fan of Dennis Potter. I am too. I think he was a genius and the greatest writer that ever worked in film.

    My favourite Potter work is Lipstick On Your Collar. I adore that series. I think it’s a magnificent show and Potter’s masterpiece. I absolutely love the 1950s setting of it as I love the 1950s and the show recreates it to perfection. I also love the ’50s music and style on display in the show. I love the songs and the musical sequences in the show.
    The cast are outstanding and they all give brilliant performances. I just love the acting in the show. Potter’s screenplay is magnificent with dialogue that’s sharp, eloquent, witty and quotable as ever. The direction is brilliant too. I love everything about the show.

    I really love Lipstick On Your Collar. I really hope you like it too. I’d be really disappointed if you didn’t. I love it so much and it’s my favourite thing that’s ever been on the screen.

    My second favourite work of his is his original banned BBC TV play Brimstone and Treacle which is brilliantly acted and written. As for The Singing Detective. I do think it’s good and I respect it. I actually prefer the Hollywood movie version of Pennies From Heaven to the BBC original but you might disagree with me on that. Christopher Walken is especially great in it.

    I did know that Stone released his autobiography. It would be a very interesting read I think. This first installment of it is up to 1986. He’s writing another book that covers his life after that. I saw that documentary Man of Iron on Sam Peckinpah and I thought it was excellent. I didn’t know it was produced by Moving Pictures. It’s included as an extra on Arrow’s release of Alfredo Garcia.

  8. Glad to hear that you are a huge fan of Dennis Potter as well 🙂 – I actually love every single thing he has ever done – In that way, you could probably label me a Dennis Potter apologist 🙂 So sad that he has been dead since 1994 😦 I wonder what he would have made of things going on right now – as you are probably aware, in his last TV interview he took a swipe (in words that is) at Rupert Murdoch 🙂

    As for Lipstick On Your Collar, rest assured Steve, I love every single frame of it 🙂 I too love 1950’s pop culture and as with other eras, I have a lot of favorite films from the 1950’s If I were ever able to compile a list 🙂 Back to Lipstick On Your Collar though, I too love the script, the music and the performances 🙂 I read that it may have been Ewan McGregor’s debut and who could forget his beautiful blonde love interest? 🙂 I too had a crush on her when I first watched the program 🙂

    Though one could say that a lot of Potter’s works are autobiographical in one way or another, Lipstick On Your Collar has been implied as being the most autobiographical one could get of Potter or at least from that era (the 1950’s). I do not know If this is entirely true, but given that Potter reached adulthood during the 1950’s (he was born in 1935 as you know), I would not be surprised If it came the closest 🙂

    Brimstone and Treacle is another masterpiece – it must have been to British television what Ken Russell’s The Devils was to cinema (British or otherwise). I may love The Singing Detective more than you do, but again we all have different tastes and rankings of his work. As to whether or not it serves as his magnum opus, I really have to think long and hard about that because ranking the works of a great artist, especially when everything he has done is pitch perfect (at least for me) can be really difficult. In this case, that would be Dennis Potter 🙂 Standing on it’s own, the American version of Pennies from Heaven is a great film. It only comes off as very good when compared to the 1978 BBC miniseries of the same name, which had more time to tell it’s story. I mean let’s face it, a close to 2-hour movie can not do justice to a six part miniseries. There are days where I feel like giving the American version of Pennies from Heaven four out of four as opposed to three-and-a-half out of four because there is really nothing wrong with the film. I think it only comes off as minor when compared to the miniseries because the BBC series had more time to tell it’s story whereas the American version by comparison runs close to two hours. Just for the record, I own both versions of it 🙂 And yes, Christopher Walker can really sing and dance 🙂

    As for Oliver Stone, regardless of what one thinks of his films, he comes off as an interesting guy. Given how some things come in threes, it will be interesting to see If he writes three books on his life like a trilogy 🙂 Glad to hear that you saw that Sam Peckinpah Man of Iron documentary – interesting that it was on Arrow’s release of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia 🙂 Here in the States, it was included as an extra on the Criterion edition of Straw Dogs 🙂

  9. Dennis Potter’s final TV interview with Melvyn Bragg was astonishing and moving. He was totally right about Murdoch too. He hated Murdoch with a vengeance.

    I’m so pleased you love Lipstick On Your Collar. You are a man of exceptional taste I must say. Lipstick had three stunningly beautiful girls – Louise Germaine as Sylvia Berry, Kim Huffman as Lisa Trekker and Carrie Leigh as the Dream Girl. Forget Bond girls. Dennis Potter girls were just as good. Cheryl Campbell and Joanne Whalley were others.

    I don’t think Potter’s works as much autobiographical as just inspired by his own life.
    He did his national service in the 1950s in The War Office in Whitehall in London where he translated Russian newspapers and documents into English, the same as what Ewan McGregor’s Mick Hopper and Frank do in the show. Potter had a lot more in common with the intellectual country boy Frank than the streetwise cockney rock and roller Hopper. Much of The Singing Detective was obviously inspired by Potter’s own life too.

    I get the impression that the 1950s were a happy time for Potter as he was a young man then and it was after his difficult childhood and before his illness began in the sixties. I think with Lipstick he was invoking a happy time in his life and that’s why it’s such a happy, upbeat, jovial, colourful show and it doesn’t have as much of the darkness of some of his other works.

    What Lipstick did brilliantly was show how Britain was changing in the 1950s. It shows how things were changing culturally. The older officers represent the old Britain while Ewan McGregor’s character Hopper represents the younger generation that would soon create The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and many other bands.
    Lipstick also shows how Britain was changing with it’s crumbling status as a world power with the loss of Suez.

    I just love Lipstick On Your Collar and that’s all there is to it.

    It is a good point that the BBC Pennies does have about seven hours to tell it’s story while the movie has less than two but I do think the movie did a good job condensing the story to movie length. I really think changing the movie’s setting to Chicago totally worked. One area where the BBC original can’t compete with the movie is in the technical aspects. The movie was shot by the great Gordon Willis of The Godfather movies and the sets of the movie were fantastic. The original just can’t compete with that as it’s 1970s era BBC production with interiors shot on videotape with standard sets and the location scenes shot on 16mm. I think the visuals of the Pennies movie definitely influenced the visuals and direction of The SInging Detective and Lipstick On Your Collar.

  10. Others have since come to echo Potter’s sentiments in declaring Rupert Murdoch a cancer on the journalist profession.

    Thank you for the kind words as well Steve 🙂 You are a man of exceptional taste too Steve 🙂 I also agree with you that Louise Germaine as Sylvia Berry, Kim Huffman as Lisa Trekker and Carrie Leigh as the Dream Girl are all super beautiful as you so eloquently state 🙂 Speaking of the latter, I always associate The Crew Cuts cover of Earth Angel with her character – she is just absolutely gorgeous 🙂 In addition, I became addicted to that cover version of Earth Angel 🙂 I too agree with your analogy about them being every bit as beautiful as Bond girls 🙂 I also agree with you on Cheryl Campbell and Joanne Whalley 🙂

    INteresting info on Potter’s career too Steve 🙂 I did have a feeling that he worked in a War office during the 1950’s, but everything else I just learned from you and very insightful indeed 🙂 Given the musical choices of his work, I also had a hunch that Potter was more fond of older music than what was coming up at the time 🙂

    The 1950’s must have been a considerably happy time for Potter since it was the link between his previous hardships and his physical health problems that would occur in the 1960’s. It is also wonderful to see Potter in such a happy mood considering how dark most of his other stuff is. What is especially interesting about Lipstick on Your Collar is that it feels like the work of both a man in his fifties and one in his twenties. The former because of all the wisdom one grows as one gets older (the themes of a changing Britain) and the latter because it’s insights feel so fresh 🙂

    I am with you Steve completely, Lipstick On Your Collar may just be his crowning achievement 🙂

    I hear your points about the American version of Pennies from Heaven and given that the action is relocated to America (Chicago during the depression era 1930’s) is truly inspired. And yes, the original can’t compare with the massive budget of the American version and yes, the sets and Gordon Willis cinematography are just amazing 🙂 As much as I love the BBC miniseries, I can see your point on where the American version is better. It pains me because as I said before, there is really nothing wrong with the American version, it only feels slightly (and I put emphasis on that word) flawed when compared to the epic heft of the BBC series. If they made an American miniseries of it today with a big budget (Netflix or otherwise), it would be considered equal to it in content, but superior to it in form. I too agree with you that the visuals inspired The Singing Detective and Lipstick On Your Collar – some might even call them part of an unofficial trilogy 🙂

  11. I think I’d have to be in the right frame of mind before sitting down to watch Talk Radio. It sounds very intense.

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