Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.
Genre: This is a high-energy crime drama with a plucky stripe of romance running right down the middle. But don’t let the threat of ‘romance’ turn you away though, this is also a brutal, darkly funny, thrilling roller coaster of a film.
Walken in Short: He plays Vincent Coccotti, the crime boss’s vicious right-hand man. Really he just has the one scene, but ohhhhhhh what a scene! Basically him and Dennis Hopper engage in a tense battle of wits. What’s crazy is that this single scene is possibly more famous than the entire movie around it.
Movie in a Sentence: Clarence Worley (Slater) has just fallen in love with a feisty woman named Alabama (Arquette), now all he has to do is deal with her pimp (Oldman), try to sell a suitcase full of cocaine to a big-shot film producer, and get away scott-free with the money and the girl.
Director: Tony Scott (The Hunger, Top Gun, The Last Boyscout) – In addition to these and other great films, Mr. Scott has had the pleasure of working with Walken two more times after this: MAN ON FIRE (2004) and DOMINO (2005). Allegedly, he read the scripts for both RESERVOIR DOGS and TRUE ROMANCE and wanted to make DOGS, but Quentin was adamant about directing it himself.
Writer: Quentin Tarantino – Let me tell you a story: Once Upon a Time… before Big Q became a Film God, and he was just a Film Geek working in a video rental store, he wrote a 500-page screenplay that was a mix of NATURAL BORN KILLERS and TRUE ROMANCE and some other stuff. Eventually, of course, the two stories were separated and tweeked, and then sold so he could get his first film RESERVOIR DOGS made. True!
MPAA Rating: This film is rated ‘R’ for Drug-use, brutal violence, copious expletives, more drug-use, more violence, a shit-ton of swearing – oh, and there are some boobies, too. Big, fat boobies that Clarence doesn’t even care about!
Available to Own: Oh yeah: VHS, DVD, Blu. Whatever you need. Several editions of each, including an unrated director’s cut. And it is also included in the big sexy Blu-ray box-set ‘Tarantino XX’ (2012) that collects almost all of his films so far in one collection.
Actors Other Than Walken:
Christian Slater plays the lead, Clarence Worley, a young comic-book store employee that gets caught up in a a whirlwind of sex, drugs, and violence. I generally like Slater in whatever he does, mostly from HEATHERS, PUMP UP THE VOLUME, and of course, the obscure-yet-classic GLEAMING THE CUBE. Slater has only been in one other film with Walken, and that was recently in THE POWER OF FEW in 2013.
Patricia Arquette plays his newfound love, named Alabama. This character requires her to be a huge sweetheart with a southern twang, but still be believable as a tough-as-nails fighter when provoked. She performs admirably in that capacity. So charming and vicious, I love her.
Dennis Hopper plays Clarence’s father, a History-channel-watching security guard that attempts to protect his son from the bad men looking for him. Hopper was also in the film SEARCH & DESTROY in 1995 and BASQUIAT in 1996, both with Walken, both fantastic.
Gary Oldman is a pimp named Drexl Spivey. Completely worth watching just for his scene. Oldman went on to appear in BASQUIAT in 1996 with Walken and Hopper.
Ugh, you know what? So many great actors in this, I’m just going to list some of the other bigger ones and note which films they’ve been in with Walken: Saul Rubinek, Tom Sizemore, Victor Argo [KING OF NEW YORK (1990), McBAIN (1991), THE FUNERAL (1996), NEW ROSE HOTEL (1998)], Brad Pitt, Bronson Pinchot, James Gandolfini (ROMANCE & CIGARETTES, 2006), (KILL THE IRISHMAN, 2011), Samuel L. Jackson (PULP FICTION, 1994)(KISS TOLEDO GOODBYE, 1999).
Similar Films: Natural Born Killers (1994), Wild at Heart (1990), Badlands (1973), Bonnie & Clyde (1967), Drugstore Cowboy (1989), Another Day in Paradise (1989), Sightseers (2012) and really, any of Quentin’s other films.
Walken Content: Quantity= 3%, however Quality= 89%. Walken is limited to a single scene, where he is interrogating Dennis Hopper’s character. It is maybe 5 or 6 minutes long, but this is a near-perfect scene of tension and release. Two actors at the top of their game, verbal sparring, give and take. It is a script that is both funny and harrowing, with dialogue that crackles.
Walken Quote: There are a couple good ones in that scene, but I would surely be remiss in my duties if I chose something other than his ‘antichrist’-speech. Hopper asks who he is. Walken calmly explains to him:
“I’m the anti-christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never saw evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you.”
~ Vincent Coccotti (Walken)
Should You Watch This? Yes. Oui. Si. Ja. Hai. Sim. Ken. Sea. Jes. Aaaaaaaaaabsofrickinlutely. This is a modern masterpiece, a perfect storm of cast, script, and crew. It is infinitely quotable, and immediately iconic. There are so many perfect moments in this film, and the crowning jewel of them all is the Walken/Hopper scene. There are dozens of valid reasons to watch (or re-watch) this, here are a few: a tiny scene with Samuel L. Jackson talking about how he loves to eat pussy (among other things), Brad Pitt being a lazy stoner sitting on the couch the whole movie smoking bong-hits, James Gandolfini going mano-e-womano with Patricia Arquette and demolishing a hotel room, Bronson Pinchot (Balki from the old TV show Perfect Strangers) facilitating a coke-deal, Gary Oldman looking like this and being a pimp named Drexl…
So many reasons. Pick one and do it.