John Badham (1939), born in Britain but raised in the USA, debuted with the comedy
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976) but found
success with the semi-musical Saturday Night Fever (1977), a portrait
of young losers who are the disco-era descendants of the juvenile delinquents of the 1950s.
The 19-year-old Tony lives with his
Italian-American parents, works in a paint shop, and dropped out of school to
devote himself to his hobby: dancing. He hangs out with four
friends from the same Italian-American community:
Joey, Double J, Gus and Bobby.
Bobby has a car that they use to drive around.
An excellent dancer, Annette, is in love with Tony, and tells Tony about a dance
competition where they could team up, but Tony has his eyes on a new, older and classier girl, Stephanie, whom he sees at the dance studio of his friend Pete.
One day his parents are in mourning: their older son Frank, a priest, of whom they were so proud, has decided to quit the priesthood. Tony is happy to hang out with his brother.
One night Gus is attacked by a gang and ends up at the hospital with a broken leg.
Meanwhile, Bobby gets a girl pregnant and is desperate because abortion is out of the question and everybody tells him that he has to marry her.
Tony flirts in vain with Stephanie who mocks him for being too young, uneducated
and with no prospect in life. However, Stephanie accepts to team up with Tony for the dance contest.
One night they show off on the dancefloor and make Annette jealous. Annette
offers herself to Tony in Bobby's car but she is not taking the pill and Tony
doesn't take her virginity.
Later she is taken by the boys to the bridge where they goof around risking their lives.
Frank decides to leave the house to start a new life.
Bobby keeps asking Tony for advice but Tony is only preoccupied with seducing Stephanie, who still keeps him at arm's length.
One day Tony borrows Bobby's car and quits his job in order to help Stephanie move to a new place, only to find out that Stephanie used to live with a man.
Pressured by Tony, Stephanie breaks down and confesses that the man helped her
get her job. Tony is jealous and disappointed.
More worried and jealous than ever,
Annette shows up with condoms, basically begging Tony to take her virginity.
One night the guys decide to take revenge on the gang that they suspect was behind Gus' beating. They crash Bobby's car into the gang's hangout and get into
a big fight with them, while Bobby, scared, drives away.
Tony, Double J, and Joey get scratches and bruises all over their faces.
Then they report to Gus at the hospital only to learn that Gus is not certain it was that gang that attacked him.
Finally it's the night of the dance competition at their favorite disco.
Tony and Stephanie are awarded the top prize, but Tony knows that a Latino couple
did better and refuses the prize.
Tony, visibly upset with the whole world, tries to rape Stephanie in the car
but she manages to escape.
Annette, on drugs, offers herself to the whole group of Italian-American kinds.
As Bobby drive,
Joey takes her virginity in the back seat. Then it's
Double J's turn, even though Annette tries to disentangle herself.
Tony seats silently next to Bobby who drives, also traumatized.
Bobby, humiliated by his own cowardice during the gang fight, terrified at the
prospect of having to marry, hurt by Tony's indifference for his tragedy, and disgusted by the rape,
stops at the usual bridge and this time he gets out and starts goofing
like the others often did. Tony realizes that Bobby is doing something truly stupid and
tries to stop him but Bobby falls into the river before Tony can grab him.
The cops arrive but there's nothing they can do.
Tony walks away from his friends and takes random trains of the subway.
Finally in the morning he shows up at Stephanie's place, a changed man, determined to grow up.
Tony says he just wants her as his friend, but Stephanie now kisses him.
After his version of Dracula (1979), and the adaptation of a Brian Clark theatrical play,
Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981) he directed
Blue Thunder (1983) that spun off a television series.
WarGames (1983) is a sci-fi movies, one of the first ones to feature
a software hacker as the protagonist.
The plot, however, is nothing more than a version for teenager of the classic Hitchcock plot: the innocent thrown into a dangerous conspiracy who has to prove his innocence, and save the world, all by himself.
While the experts of the USA government are setting up top-secret automatic
fail-proof computer systems to respond to a nuclear attack,
a harmless, middle-class
high-school kid, David, is playing with Video games and is turning his
bedroom into a mad-scientist laboratory (in the process neglecting his
cute girlfriend, Jennifer). A creative hacker, he knows how to
alter his grades in the school's database.
One day, he accidentally stumbles into a computer that, despite hosting a
parade of games, behaves differently from
any other he has tried so far.
David eventually manages to crack the computer's code and enter into its
protected area. The computer thinks he is Dr Falken, the inventor who, before
dying, devised the simulation game.
He then proceeds to play "thermonuclear war" with the
computer. It turns out this is the top-secret computer of the government,
which is now simulating a real-life nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.
The top-secret facility goes on maximum alert: the USA is ready to
strike back. Luckily, David's father calls him and David has to suspend
the game, giving the experts enough time to figure out that an intruder
caused a glitch. The following day David and Jennifer see the news on tv
that the USA went close to starting a nuclear war, and realize the
connection. Joshua calls back because it wants to continue playing the game,
and David, scared, hangs up.
Too late: the FBI arrests him. They have figured out who caused the glitch.
David maintains that he simply wanted to play a game, but the officers
suspect he is working for the Soviets and arrest him for espionage.
David has realized that Joshua is still playing the game and is about to
start World War III, but nobody listens to him. So he has to run away and
start his own search for the secrets of the dead Dr Falken.
He is joined by Jennifer, the only one who believes him.
The two kids find dr Falken, who is not dead at all.
The inventor tells them coldly that he hopes humans will self-destroy, so
that nature can start all over again.
Joshua is, in the meantime, continuing the "game": the alert level keeps
increasing and the world is now on the verge of WW3.
Falken has second thoughts, picks up the kids on a helicopter and flies to
the base, in time to stop the president from ordering a massive strike:
Falken promises that what they see on the screen is just a simulation,
there are no Soviet missiles. For a few minutes they wait, while the screens
show the missiles coming closer and closer, and eventually hitting the USA.
Radio contact with the places that are being hit proves that they are not
being hit: the computer is only playing a game.
The base erupts in a joyful celebration, but
now the computer keeps playing, and nobody, not even Falken, can stop it:
Joshua is continuing the game, and is getting ready to fire the missiles
himself. David figures out how to stop it: by engaging it in a game that
has no winner (tic-tac-toe played by the computer itself against itself).
Joshua goes mad, and starts simulating all possible strategies of nuclear war.
The screen shows the USA and the Soviet Union being destroyed in a thousand
different combinations. Eventually, Joshua stops: the game makes no sense.
In a ridiculous ending, Joshua asks the inventor to play a game of chess
American Flyers (1985)
Short Circuit (1986) is a sci-fi comedy about
a robot named "No. 5" that/who is struck by lightning and becomes a sentient being.
Stakeout (1987), scripted by Jim Kouf, is a police film with plenty of
action and a little bit of comedy and romance.
A young convict, Stick, beats the guard and, with the help of his cousin
Caylor, escapes from prison.
Chris (Dreyfuss) and Bill (Emilio Estevez) are two cops fighting crime in the
streets of the city.
While chasing a small-time crook, they end up in a fish-processing plant, and
Chris falls in a machine slipping down the chute and getting all filthy.
Back at the station, the boss asks them to help the FBI with the case of the
convinct, who happens to be a sociopathic cop killer.
The two cops are not excited that their assignment is simply to watch over
the convict's girlfriend, Maria, just in case the man tries to contact her.
Chris falls in love with the woman and, pretending to be a phone technician,
makes her acquaitance.
They get along and start dating. Bill keeps the secret but is nervous and
several times Chris' love affair is about to be discovered by other colleagues.
Maria does not know that she has Stick's money.
Stick and Caylor are chased by the police: the car chase ends in a river and
the police safely assumes that both men drowned.
Chris' job is over and he has to tell Maria that he has been lying to her
all the time. Maria is devastated. Chris has just left that Stick, far from
dead, shows up and recovers the money that has been hidden in a piece of
furniture all those years.
Chris returns and Stick captures him, but Chris pretends he is also running
from the law. When his partner Bill breaks in to free him, Chris pretends Bill
is after him, not after Stick. After a lengthy fight by the harbor, Chris,
helped by Maria, kills Stick and can walk away with her.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Sara Liotta) |
Stakeout (1987), dal copione di Jim Kouf, è un film poliziesco carico d’azione a tratti comico ma anche romantico.
Un giovene detenuto, Stick, colpisce la guardia e, con l’aiuto del cugino Caylor, evade di prigione. Chris (Dreyfuss) e Bill (Emilio Estevez) sono due agenti di polizia che combattono il crimine nelle strade della città. Mentre stanno inseguendo un delinquente poco importante, si ritrovano in una fabbrica per il trattamento del pesce e Chris cade, scivolando e sporcandosi tutto. Tornati alla stazione di polizia, il capo gli chiede di aiutare l’FBI con il caso del detenuto evaso, che risulta essere un omicida sociopatico fissato con gli agenti di polizia. I due poliziotti non sono affatto contenti perché il loro incarico è di controllare la fidanzata dell’evaso, Maria, nel caso che l’uomo carcasse di contattarla. Chris si innamora della donna e, fingendo di essere un tecnico della società telefonica, riesce a conoscerla. Continuano a vedersi e iniziano ad innamorarsi. Bill mantiene il segreto ma è molto nervoso e in più di un’occasione la relazione di Chris rischia di essere scoperta dagli altri colleghi.
Maria non è ha conoscenza del fatto che il denaro di Stick è a casa sua. Stick e Caylor sono inseguiti dalla polizia: la macchina cade in un fiume e i poliziotti credono che entrambi gli uomini siano annegati. Il compito di Chris è terminato e ora deve dire a Maria che le ha mentito per tutto il tempo. Maria è sconvolta. Chris è appena andato via quando arriva Stick, tutt’altro che morto, recupera il denaro che aveva nascosto in un mobile e che era rimasto lì per tutti quegli anni. Chris ritorna e Stick lo cattura, ma Chris finge di essere anche lui uno che scappa dalla legge. Quando il suo compagno Bill entra nell’appartamento per liberarlo, Chris finge che Bill sia lì per arrestare lui e non Stick. Dopo una lunga lotta vicino al porto, Chris, aiutato da Maria, uccide Stick e vanno via insieme.