Talk Radio

"Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can cause permanent damage.”

Oliver Stone had been planning on starting Born on the Fourth of July after finishing Wall Street but had to wait for Tom Cruise to finish making Rain Man. While doing so, his producer Ed Pressman introduced him to a new play he’d optioned called “Talk Radio.” Stone agreed to help adapt the script with Eric Bogosian, one of the original writers and performer, and in the process took to the project. He ended up signing on to direct it and in the process, turned out one of his most interesting films that sadly doesn’t get talked about. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Oliver Stone in the 80s series with his 1988 film Talk Radio.

We talk about the nature of this film and our perhaps more personal connection to it, being in the world of podcasting, and the nature of talking in people’s ears. We share our thoughts on the translation from stage to screen and why opening up the story to pull in elements of the real life gunning down of shock jock Alan Berg in 1984 allowed Stone to include more of his ideologies but also allowed Bogosian to create more inner turmoil in the character. We discuss the cinematography at length, from the split diopters to the dollies with rotating sets to the theatrical lighting shifts to the detailed closeups and more. We also revel in the incredible sound design and why it works so brilliantly in creating this world. And we touch on the days of Cineplex Odeon films and the fact that this theatre chain was also distributing movies.

It’s a powerful film that worked really well for us but never seemed to find a connection to its audience. Still, we have a fantastic time talking about it and certainly think more people need to check it out. So do so, then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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