7.3/10
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Talk Radio (1988)

R | | Drama | 13 January 1989 (USA)
A rude, contemptuous talk show host becomes overwhelmed by the hatred that surrounds his program just before it goes national.

Director:

Oliver Stone

Writers:

Stephen Singular (book), Eric Bogosian (play) | 4 more credits »
3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Bogosian ... Barry
Ellen Greene ... Ellen
Leslie Hope ... Laura
John C. McGinley ... Stu
Alec Baldwin ... Dan
John Pankow ... Dietz
Michael Wincott ... Kent / Michael / Joe
Linda Atkinson Linda Atkinson ... Sheila Fleming
Robert Trebor ... Jeffrey Fisher / Francine
Zach Grenier ... Sid Greenberg
Tony Frank ... Dino
Harlan Jordan Harlan Jordan ... Coach Armstrong
Bill Johnson ... Fan #1
Kevin Howard Kevin Howard ... Fan #2
Anna Thomson ... Woman at Basketball Game / Denise (as Anna Levine)
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Storyline

An acerbic radio talk show host based in Dallas starts what could be an important few days when he discovers that his controversial late night show is about to be "picked up" by a nationwide network of radio stations. However, all is not perfect for him, because on top of troubles with his love life and fears that the management of the network will try to alter the content of his show he has to cope with a neo-nazi group who have been angered by his forthright opinions. Written by Mark Thompson <mrt@oasis.icl.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Words can kill... See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Eric Bogosian and Oliver Stone had several creative differences from the screenplay's development through production. See more »

Goofs

The radio station gives its identification as "KGAB in Dallas". Dallas shares its media market with Fort Worth, so all radio and television stations give their identification as being from "Dallas-Fort Worth". See more »

Quotes

Barry: Talk Radio! It's the last neighborhood in town, people just don't talk to each other anymore!
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Connections

Referenced in Visions (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Disco Inferno
Written by Ron Kersey (as Ron "Have Mercy" Kersey) & Leroy Green
Performed by The Trammps
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
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User Reviews

 
Still one of Oliver Stone's directorial triumphs; Bogosian is captivating
10 August 2005 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

In one of the more under-seen films of the late 1980's, at a time when Oliver Stone was riding high with Platoon and Wall Street (and before his opus Born on the Fourth of July), he co-scripted and directed this look at the world of radio, specifically one radio host in the middle of Texas. This man is Barry Champlain, in a once-in-a-career turn from Eric Bogosian, who wrote the original play and also co-wrote the script. Barry is like a mix of Howard Stern and one of those pundits you hear on the radio stations many of us might turn off. He's got ideas on his mind, opinions, and he's not only un-afraid to speak them, but also to stand up against the phone callers. The callers, indeed, are the driving force in the film, as Barry has to combat against the mindless, the obscene, the racist, and the purely absent-minded. As this goes on, he also has to contend with his boss (Alec Baldwin) and a hit or miss deal to go nationwide, outside the confines of the Southern way station he's in.

While after seeing the film I felt curious as to see how it would've been done on stage (I'd imagine it was a one-man show, as Bogosian has had several on the side), the direction of the film is phenomenal. Stone has been known, almost typecast, as a director who loves quick cuts, the limitless effects of montage, and effects with the styles of camera-work and other little tricks, that give his films in the 90's a distinctive, almost auteur look. But in the 80's he had this energy and feverish quality to the look of the film, and wasn't as frenzied as the other films. In order to add the proper intensity that is within the studio and head-space of Barry Champlain, he and DP Robert Richardson make the space seem claustrophobic at times, gritty, un-sure, and definitely on edge. The scenes in the middle of the film, when Barry isn't in the studio, are fairly standard, but the style along with the substance in the radio scenes is among the best I've seen from the Stone/Richardson combination.

And one cannot miscalculate the performance of Bogosian, who can be obnoxious, offensive, angered, passive, and everything that we love and hate in radio show hosts. There is also a funny, near distracting supporting role for Michael Wincott as Kent/Michael/Joe, who prank calls him one night, and the next gets invited to the studio. These scenes are a little uncomfortable for a viewer, but it does get very much into the subculture head-space of the 80's that Barry is as intrigued as he is critical of. The stoner may not 'get it', but as he says to him "it's your show". Indeed, it's hard to cover everything that goes on within the talk, and there is a lot of it. But it's never boring, and like Champlain himself, it's not easy to ignore. And when Bogosian goes into his climactic tirade on air, with the background panning around in a continuous 360 spin, it becomes intoxicating, and a reason why freedom of speech is so powerful.

Stone has been synonymous as a filmmaker of hot-button issues, who takes on subjects that were or still are controversial, and gives them a life-force that isn't always great, but is all his own. Here his skills and ambitions don't get in the way of Bogosian's- it's boosted, if anything, making an extremely skilled vision of what is essentially a near one-man show, which in and of itself is already well-written.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 January 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Talk Radio See more »

Filming Locations:

Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$80,547, 26 December 1988

Gross USA:

$3,468,572

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,468,572
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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