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.
Walken in Short: Chris plays a slightly unhinged but vaguely successful businessman named Kim Ulander. Kim is one of my all-time favorite roles of Walken’s. Every line of his is gold. Goooooooold.
Movie in a Sentence: Martin (Griffin Dunne) is a failed businessman who will not take his looming bankruptcy lying down, no, he’ll attempt to make a film, and not just any film but a film based on a self-help book written by the eccentric self-help-guru Dr. Waxler (Dennis Hopper), and to do that he will ask for help from his new secretary (Illiana Douglas), a new friend (Christopher Walken) and that friend’s friend (John Turturro).
Director: David Salle — This is his only film. He’s actually earned previous fame as a pretty-big-deal New York postmodern painter in the ’80s and ’90s.
Screenwriter: Michael Almereyda – based on a play by the same name by Howard Korder. Almereyda went on to write and direct ‘The Eternal‘ (1998), a supernatural horror film that Walken later appears in.
For More Pictures of the Film: Click HERE
MPAA Rating: It’s rated ‘R’, mostly for the abundance of swearing. And okay so a rabbit gets skinned, and also some people get shot. Oh, and you see Walken snorting coke. Not to mention there is a little bit of nudity, full on female nips and bush. But that’s all. And honestly, it’s all really quite tame by today’s standards.
Duration: one hour and 30 minutes
Actors Other Than Walken:
Available to Own: Only on DVD, no blu-ray yet. I would get this on blu-ray in a heartbeat if it were available. C’mon Criterion!
Similar Films: Smalltime Crooks (2000), Fargo (1996), Touch (has Walken in it, 1997), Broken Flowers (2005), The Big White (2005)
Walken Content: He is introduced early, often, and every time he reappears he threatens to steal the show away from Griffin Dunne. He is simultaneously kooky AND mundane. He sings a bit, little ditties, not even counting his must-see karaoke performance. Every line he says is quotable. His chemistry with Turturro is fantastic. Yes, this is essential Walken viewing.
Walken Quote: I’m providing two quotes on this one because this short one:
“Yada yada … Warden … Boom.”
…doesn’t make much sense. And yet, I feel I would be remiss if I wrote about the quotes in this film without mentioning that moment.
And you know what, I’m going to give you some of the context because it doesn’t even matter, there are no wardens. So he’s standing in front of a mirror spinning a pistol around his finger like he was a twelve-year old cowboy, and he growls it out like he’s counting one-two-three: yada yada. warden. boom. It’s his little (seemingly improvisational) moment by himself before the scene “begins” and he starts talking with people. Another director might have cut it out of the film. It’s just this little throwaway moment in that space before a scene would have usually begun, but I find myself absolutely enthralled with this line and his delivery of it. It doesn’t make any sense and yet I find it entrancing. It’s like he’s glossing over an already glib synopsis of some random prison-escape plan in some other film.
Walken is in fine form here, his dialogue is so sharp and his delivery so playful. Wonderful stuff.
The other quote is just a great little moment that I won’t ruin by giving you context:
“It doesn’t matter. Y’know I’ve been afraid. I say it now afraid to be tested, that I wouldn’t be strong, but I was. You saw that. I was ready! I stood there!! *bang* Look how this hand is shaking. Look how this hand is steady.”
Should You Watch This? Yes, yes. A thousand times: yes! One of my favorite films of his, made all the better because nobody knows about it. A quirky, dark comedy with a unique voice and a lot of talent.
Next Walken Film? Up next is an edgy erotic business/crime-thriller with Walken taking the crazy and rich businessman role to new heights, oh and also with Anne Heche and the superlovely Joan Chen all kissing and loving on each other something awful.