Friday, August 22, 2014


“You don’t understand. I mean, it’s not what you think. I’d never do that. It’s just…the boys are so nice to you. When we’re together…I never knew it was gonna be so nice. Did you ever have a boy hold you close and sing to you? This one boy, Eddie…he sang to me right in my ear. And he held me so sweetly. June, don’t you know how that feels? Just to be held like that?”

Laura Dern as Connie
Treat Williams as Arnold Friend
Mary Kay Place as Katherine
It’s summer vacation and 15-year-old Connie moves about the suburban California home she shares with her easygoing dad (Levon Helm), quarrelsome mom (Place), and “perfect” 24-year-old sister, June (Elizabeth Berridge), in a sleepwalker’s haze of idle distraction and adolescence-induced self-absorption. Able only to muster up enough energy for sunbathing, toenail-painting, music-listening, and practicing her “How to talk to boys” patter while smiling into mirrors, Connie’s at that age where she feels as if she’s harboring at least four different people under her skin. First there’s Daddy’s little girl; then the lazy, can’t-do-anything-right, “career criminal” her mother thinks she needs to keep her eye on 24/7; and, of course, her sister sees her as a spoiled, entitled brat. But Connie herself feels awkwardly suspended between wanting to remain a little girl like her naive friend Jill (Sarah Inglis), or becoming one of those sexy, self-assured girls at the roadside hamburger stand who attract the boys just out of high school. An ambition she shares with her more with-it friend Laura (Margaret Welsh).

But if at home Connie and her mother continuously lock horns due to one being concerned she’s seeing the image of her former self, while the other fears she’s looking at a vision of her future self; then its only during those long afternoons at the mall (it’s the '80s, the very height of mall culture) where, far from the gaze of those who think of her as a child, Connie has the opportunity to exuberantly, flirtatiously and (tragically) all-too innocently, explore the romantic possibilities of being an adult.
With sensitivity and a sometimes piercing insight into the peculiar pains and anxieties of verge-of-adulthood adolescence, Smooth Talk tells a melancholy coming-of-age story that’s also part Grimm fairy tale and horror story. A sexual awakening, yes, but an awakening to darkness.

“I look at you. I look right in your eyes…and all I see are a bunch of trashy daydreams.”

There’s a reason why a kind of neutered androgyny has always been standard equipment for male teen pop stars over the years. Why the over-effusive journalism of fan mags marketed to adolescent girls (Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine) trafficked in platonic, My Personal Dairy adjectives like, “huggable,” “cute,” “smoochable,” and “dreamy.” Why the casting of boy bands demands the representation of at least one of each prototypically “safe” male personality (the quiet one, the bad boy, the funny one, etc.). And why, in 1972, David Cassidy’s talk of drug use and his discreet display of pubic hair on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine sent hoards of adolescent girls heading for the hills and sounded the death-knell for his teen-idol career.

For a great many girls first becoming aware of their sexuality, sex isn’t really what it’s about at all. At least not in the clinical, literal sense. When you're young, vague adult urges collide with childish illusions. A burgeoning interest in sex during adolescence is, for most girls, a confused jumble of barely-understood, tantalizingly dangerous feelings centering on dreamy fantasies. Heady fantasies, romantic in nature, of idealized boy/men, more feminine than masculine in nature, who ask them out on dates and make them feel special, beautiful, and understood. Of safe, puppydog caresses and scary/exciting kisses which can be tender or torrid, but never go too far.
Does Your Mother Know?
Connie (Dern) and Laura (Margaret Welsh) are intrigued by an "older kids" roadside hangout. Less in a rush to reach adulthood, Jill (Sarah Inglis) lingers behind
If puberty in boys inflames an often difficult-to-understand surge in sexual desire and interest, these exact same feelings converge just as confusingly in adolescent girls, only with the added complication of the deceptively ego-gratifying awareness of the dubious female “power” to attract the male gaze. Of course, the tragic misunderstanding to be found in the pursuit of desirability through the self-objectifying manipulation of one’s appearance is that it only offers the illusion of control. The the possessor of the gaze is the one with all the power. It’s a sad fact of life that in our culture, girls learn the value of their bodies to boys and men long before they learn their own value to themselves.
Rules of Attraction
Longing to be noticed, Connie doesn't know she's already being watched
This tragic misunderstanding leads to girls longing to be cherished settling for being wanted (or worse, never being able to tell the difference), confusing physical development with emotional maturity, and to using sexual activity as a means of coping with emotional emptiness.  
The music of James Taylor, specifically his smooth talk version of the R&B classic, "Handyman"
serves as a premonitory leitmotif for dangerous seduction, just as Dern's
perpetually bare legs suggest a vulnerable voluptuousness

Smooth Talk is adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’1966 allegorical short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Set in that same decade, Oates’ story—an early draft of which was originally titled Death and the Maiden—is dedicated to Bob Dylan (Oates was very into his music at the time, specifically the 1965 song, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue) and was inspired by a Life magazine article the author read about a real-life serial killer of teenage girls known as “The Pied Piper of Tucson.” That such a gracefully delicate film could emerge from such an unsettling source is a testament to Oates’ poetic ability to emphasize the humanity behind the horrific. Also, it's no mean feat that the filmmakers (director Joyce Chopra) are sensitive enough to know that what works in realistic allegory can be effectively softened in the very literal language of film while still achieving the same impact.  
Musician Levon Helm as Harry, Connie's loving but somewhat unconnected father
Wife and husband team of director Joyce Chopra and screenwriter Tom Cole do an extraordinary job of expanding upon and fleshing-out Oates’ slender, shivery prose. As if taking its cue from the mercurial shifts in mood typical of adolescence, Smooth Talk weaves scenes of languid dreaminess and tense family conflict (Connie, who always appears to be lost in a world of her own when around her family: “I wish I could just travel somewhere.”) with moments of the kind of joyous, impulsive wing-spreading we’ve all experienced as a natural part of growing up and discovering who we are.

The dark tone of the narrative’s third act feels, soberingly enough, like the intrusion of adult consequence on the childhood luxury of poor judgment and making mistakes.
With an almost ten-year age gap between them, Connie and older sister June (Elizabeth Berridge) don't even share the same memories

Sometimes when I watch a film with a big star in the lead, the words of Valley of the Doll’s Helen Lawson come to mind: “The only hit to come out of a Helen Lawson show is Helen Lawson, and that’s ME baby, remember?” And by this I mean that some stars, whether intentionally or not; in order to keep the spotlight on themselves, seem to make it their business never to surround themselves with talents larger than their own. Smooth Talk, like a great many of my favorite independent films, features a cast so uniformly excellent, it has the feel of an ensemble piece even in the face of the powerhouse performances of Laura Dern and Treat Williams.
The always wonderful Mary Kay Place is one of those fine character actresses
incapable of striking a false note 
On the topic of Laura Dern, I’m afraid I’m going to come off sounding like one of those 16 Magazine writers myself, for I find it difficult to rein in the hyperbole when referring to this gifted actress. I’ve always been a huge fan, but she is just off-the-chart terrific here. As the character at the center of the story and the catalyst for all the film’s events, Dern makes sympathetically real a girl whose vanity and self-absorption might otherwise come off as shallow. She gives a natural, heartbreakingly honest, close-to-the-skin performance that’s ultimately disarming and oh-so touching. I think is chiefly because Dern, in her ability to expressively convey what a character is both thinking and feeling, clues us in that Connie is having just as hard a time making sense of her feelings as her family. I've seen Laura Dern in many things, but her performance in Smooth Talk has always remained my favorite. Beautifully written, directed, and acted, how Smooth Talk failed to get Oscar nominations in all the major categories is a mystery right up there with 1997s Eve's Bayou.
You can keep your Mike Myers, your Freddy Krueger,  your Jason Vorhees...Treat Williams as A. Friend is hands-down the screen's creepiest and scariest psychopath

Because not a great many people have seen Smooth Talk, I don't want to give too much away about the film's unforgettable last half hour. It's a powerful scene remarkably well-played by Williams and Dern. Treat Williams in particular, gives one of those performances that sneaks up on you. It seems as first as if he's doing very little, then before you know it, you notice your heart has started beating faster and a subtle tension rising within you, making your pulse race. He's that scary...and that good. I was crazy about the film before, but this sequence, with its startling shifts in tone, just blew me away.
"I seen you that night and I said, 'Oh my God, that's the one...'"

As a gay man, I’ve never been able to fully identify with most coming-of-age-films. Ones told from a male perspective tend to be designed to flatter the egos of the male audience and mythologize the memories of the male writers. No matter what the title, these films were always populated with impossibly beautiful older women, dream girls, and willing prostitutes who craved nothing more than a sexual encounter with an awkward, gangly, pimply-faced premature ejaculate who couldn't find a clitoris with a GPS device.
Of course, there was the alternative of the John Hughes-type deification of youth movie. Films where, against evidence of logic and all common sense, adults are always corrupt and teens are all pure of spirit and mind. Where characters say things like, “When you grow up your heart dies” and aren't asked to immediately vacate the premises.
No, when I was going through puberty and struggling with adolescence, I didn’t go around punching out authority figures, drag racing, sleeping with lonely local widowers, or turning my house into a brothel while my parents were away. I was just an insecure kid struggling to find out what it meant to be a grown-up.
Male-focused coming-of-age films are encouraged to perpetuate the masculine myth: making puberty all about wearisome rites of passage (invariably centered around getting laid or channeling aggression), so if one wanted a story that dealt with emotions and inner struggle, female-centered coming-of-age-films were the sparse alternative. (Mainstream gay coming-of-age films were still a few decades off.)
I was well into adulthood when I saw Smooth Talk, but like no other film I've seen before or since, it captures, if not the particulars of adolescence as I remember it, most certainly the confused  feelings and anxieties. 
I recall my mood swings, my self-consciousness…my preoccupation with appearance, and need to be on my own. Like the character of Connie (and most teenagers), I'd go places and lie to my parents about where I'd been. I'd have one mode of dress when my parents saw me, but when out with my friends, I dressed more provocatively, hoping my clothes would speak in a sexual language I hadn't yet found the words for.

I grew up in San Francisco, so there were no malls to hang out in, but there the hangouts of Polk and Castro Streets. Too young to actually get in anywhere, my friends and I (a close-knit group out to one another, if no one else) we haunted the poster stores, record shops and moviehouses. Just being around so many out, gay men was exciting and empowering (although nobody used that word in the '70s) and made me feel unimaginably sophisticated and mature. Naturally, when I was actually approached by someone, my shyness and social ineptitude betrayed everything my precocious mode of dress sought to convey, and nothing would come of it. But the reality was, at age 15 and 16…just having someone show interest in you was more than enough.
These days it appears as though the stridently heteronormative strain that ran through the coming-of-age film genre of my era is at last starting to ease up. I certainly hope so. In this day of internet anonymity and sexual restlessness among adolescents, not much about what Smooth Talk addresses has changed over the years. Certainly not the threat of predatory attention. But with new stories to tell and a broader spectrum of human experience represented, films about adolescence and awakening sexuality are bound to reveal more of what we all collectively share, and make obvious the fact that none of us‒male, female, gay, straight‒escapes the pain of growing up.

 Copyright © Ken Anderson


  1. Hi Ken - how on earth could I never have even heard of this movie, with such an amazing cast of favorites? I have loved Laura Dern ever since Mask, and my best girlfriend Amanda, a British Holly Golightly type, was OBSESSED with Treat Williams. We used to play the soundtrack to the movie Hair and laugh and giggle like the preteen schoolgirls we were!!

    Funny story about Amanda and Treat: When we were 15, Amanda's dad took us to see Prince of the City starring Treat Williams. Unfortunately, Amanda and I had been sneaking drinks all afternoon from her parents' liquor cabinet, so we were a little woozy as we watched the film. Amanda kept saying how cute Treat was, crooning "Treat, oh Treat" and bothering the other movie patrons. Her father was very embarrassed and asked her to pipe down. But Amanda stood up in the middle of the theater and exclaimed loudly "But I'm gonna f*ck him, Dad! I'm gonna f*ck Treat Williams!" Amanda's dad then pulled out of the theater and I never did get to see the end of Prince of the City.

    I do so much look forward to this one, Ken. I am also a huge fan of Mary Kay Place...all the way back from the Mary Hartman days when her character became a country western star singing a song called "Baby Boy." More recently, she was wonderful as the bigoted Mormon mother in Latter Days.

    Thanks for the heads-up on Smooth Talk!

    1. Hi Chris
      Ha! That is SOME Treat Williams story! You and your friend sound like those teenagers in “The Trouble with Angels”! Well, you’re certainly in for a treat in never having seen this film because everyone turns in Oscar-worthy performances. I too have been a fan of Dern since “Mask” (I recently binge-watched both seasons of HBOs “Enlightened”) , but of everything she’s done, this remains my favorite.
      Treat Williams I’ve liked since “The Ritz.”

      And while I have no fan stories on par with your friend’s adolescent declaration of love, I did have the pleasure of having Mary Kay Place as a regular in my classes for a time back in the 80s (so sardonically funny and down-to-earth. I loved her in “New York, New York”, and recently found to my delight that iTunes carries her old country album with “Baby Boy” and “Vitamin L” on it!) . Due to an association with a friend of mine, Laure Dern took my class just once, and all I remember is what a sweetheart she was. So very nice, and a good deal calmer about taking my class than I was about having her IN my class. It was before she was to begin shooting David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart” and she was on the lookout for someone to help her with the rock and roll dance moves she has to do in a scene. I met her only the once, but wow! I never forgot it.
      Alas, no Treat Williams close encounter, but when I saw him in that towel in “The Ritz” my brain probably reacted exactly like your high school friend.

      I hope you do check out “Smooth Talk” one of the best films of the 80s (Oh, got a Tweet this morning from Treat Williams – or whoever manages his twitter account – saying that he loved this movie and reminding me that it won first prize at Sundance that year! Whattaya know…my own Treat Williams story!)
      Thanks Chris, please let me know what you think of the film when you do track it down!

    2. Ken, thanks for the heads-up on "Baby Boy" and "Vitamin L" - downloading them from iTunes today!!

      Ohhhh The Ritz....remember Treat's squeaky voice? and yes, he looked dreamy in that lil' towel...

      Enlightened is one of my favorite series...I do hope they will continue with it. It's written by Mike White, who is behind one of my all-time favorite cult movies, Chuck and Buck.

      I will follow up with you once I have seen Smooth Talk...looking forward to it.

  2. Angelman66, there is a 2-disc Special Edition DVD of "Prince of the City" and it's well worth watching now if you get the chance. That was a fairly troubled production, but he's always worth seeing (especially stripped to his boxers for a wire-tapping scene.)

    I have a friend who once lived in Salt Lake City and was called for an interview to be a nanny to several children. After spending a very pleasant afternoon with the family, she reluctantly turned down the job (because the mother was going to be on-site, not working or absent, and it seemed like that might be a difficult scenario... containing children who can merely go straight to mom if they think otherwise or want their way.) The family was The Treat Williamses!!! He was living there during the filming of "Everwood." (Was there ever... LOL) I couldn't believe she had the personal strength to turn such a gig down and was ready fly to out there and offer my own services! ;-)

    1. Wow, Poseidon, me too. I hated babysitting but could have put up with even the brattiest kids just for a brush with their handsome dad!! Thanks for the heads-up on the special edition DVD of Prince of the City. It's about time I finally saw it all the way through...

  3. Hi Ken,

    I wasn't going to comment on this film because I'm of an opposite opinion on most of your feelings about it. That is I hated it so very much even though I love Mary Kay Place and really like Treat Williams. It seemed to last an eternity and while the acting was good it never held my interest. I've never been a fan of Laura Dern, I thought she might grow on me over the years as some others have but the only film I've ever liked her in was October Sky. Funny because I'm a fan of both her parents and she is like both in certain ways but for some reason she grates on me.

    Having said all that I really enjoyed you article on the film and your perceptions on male coming of age films vs. female ones. Also your memories of your youth in San Francisco. So thanks for giving me some fresh perspectives on the film although I don't think anything could induce me to struggle through it again.

    1. Hi Joel
      Please don't ever hesitate to share an opposing point of view for a film I love. As opposed to say, IMDB, I've been very lucky in that I think the people this blog has attracted are real film fans who are less invested in cheerleading and rah-rah support than an intelligent discourse on the various merits and flaws of films as each of us sees them.
      When i visit other sites, i'm sometimes reticent to share an opposing view on a film. Sometimes for fear that it may come off as combative, sometimes because I want to avoid a heap of abuse hurled at my head by the blog's supporters.
      But here, I honestly think it's cool to share opinions. Nobody's trying to change anyone's opinion or challenge a point of view; just share a personal response to a film.
      "Smooth Talk" really spoke to me, and by elaborating on my own adolescence, I hoped to shed light on why specifically this film seems to express so vividly a particular time in life for me.
      The reasons you cite for it being rather a trial for you are not very different from if you were to ask me about a Meg Ryan movie. When you don't particular like a particular actor, a film has to offer some rather compelling compensations to make it less than a chore to sit through.
      my partner and I share sooo many of the same tastes, but I can't get him to watch anything with Peter Sellers, and two of his favorite movies - "Baby Doll" & "The Women" I'm apathetic or cold to.

      I just appreciate you were able to read about a film you didn't like and perhaps enjoyed reading about my tastes, even if you don't share them.(John Simon is one of my favorite film critics in spite of the fact that I almost never agree with him...I just like how he expresses himself!)
      Thanks, Joel!

  4. Very well written Review, Ken. I have never heard of this film but I would like to see it. It's hard to understand that it is a thriller with a murderer when I look at the pictures of the film. They look so sunny and John Hughes-y. Didn't this film come out the same year as Blue Velvet? I would think people would have wanted to see more of Laura Dern then. It's a shame the film is so unknown.
    It's interesting to read about your teenage years in San Fransisco, the heart of gay Culture at the time!

    1. Hey Wille!
      Thanks a heap! The point you make about "Smooth Talk" looking like a John Hughes film, yet with the dark themes of a thriller are what contributed to its poor boxoffice when released.
      The film is really more a poetic, thoughtful character piece released at a time when teen films were known more for their outrageous humor.
      The film is not as dark as the short story (I won't say how), but the poster and ad campaign looked like a romance (check out the very 80s, all-too-lively title font. It's very similar to the terrible 1984 aerobics film "Heavenly Bodies" and the male stripper movie "One Night in Heaven").
      Having already caught the eye in "Mask" Dern had yet to break out in "Blue Velvet", and the independently-produced "Smooth Talk" just didn't have the budget or screens to make much of an impact, in spite of several good reviews.
      It is REALLY a shame the film is so unknown. I think this should have been the teenage girl cautionary tale of the 80s that "Looking for Mr Goodbar" was for the 70s. Hope perhaps you get a chance to see it sometime. It never appears on cable.
      Oh, and yes, the SF thing in my teen years was great. A terrifically positive, proud, environment to grow up in. Good to hear from you, Wille!

    2. What amazing experiences you'va had in California! The stories you could tell.

      Fom what you wrote above, I assume that you did not enjoy the remake of "The Women" starring Meg Ryan...?

    3. The stories I could tell? Yes. Amazing experiences? Not so much. the 70s sound much more fascinating era in the retelling than in the experience (you wouldn't believe how BROWN everything was: earth shoes, corduroy pants, waffle-stomper boots, waterbeds, spite of the colorful disco era, the 70s were an alarming earth-toned time.
      Oh, and don't get me started on that remake of "The Women" of the few non-Adam Sandler films I consider deserving of having all its negatives destroyed.

  5. Hi Ken,

    What an incredible journey you took me on as I learned more about you; thank you for another great read!

    While never a fan of the movie, I can appreciate the comparisons of your coming of age to this movie being more real than the John Hughes stuff. For me and perhaps because of how I was raised and being a child in San Francisco in the late 60’s and 70’s, Connie’s level of restlessness and naiveté was hard to wrap my head around.

    From my personal experiences and those of my peers I can tell you that there’s an undercurrent that’s almost electric (and not in a good way) when we meet the likes of Arnold. The smart ones know when to run, not to engage, look up, don’t stop, pass go and every other cliché for ditching and running.

    Do we always pay attention, no. But this movie seemed to lack that awareness that is pure animal instinct and that’s what bothered me; the knowing.

    Because I watch movies from the prism of personal experience or knowledge (my social group), I couldn’t get beyond the nagging, ‘how didn’t she feel this? What’s off about her?’ questions.

    Thank your for another good read, one I had to really think about before responding. Movies that contain or suggest violence against women are very difficult for me to take. This one was a head slapper, compared to my inability to watch the rest of The Accused (I walked out of the theater - too real).

    Thank you again for being so thoughtful and putting so much of you in your writing.

    1. Hi Cathy
      Such thoughtful comments on this movie that didn't really hit you where you live, but several of your observations clarify a great deal for me why it struck such a chord.
      I too watch movies through the prism of my own experiences, and I have to say that probably what got me about "Smooth Talk" is that, had I not been so terribly shy in my adolescence and had homosexuality had the same socio-normative acceptance that heterosexuality has, I would have been every bit as restless as Dern's character.
      As it is, I was like Dern's "old-maid" sister externally, and more like Dern internally.
      What i thought "Smooth Talk" did particularly well is dramatize the very thing you speak of - the cultivating of that inner awareness that tells a flirtatious girl just trying her wings, what might be a dangerous boy (like the two thick-necked teens she encounters at the mall. She has no trouble discerning the danger there).
      "Smooth Talk" i felt got to the heart of what is so often asked about why and how so many teen girls are lured by predators and unsavory types...that in some cases it's through that individual's understanding of the very childlike fantasies of romance that escort a girl into a dangerous confrontation with sex. This makes sense to me because i can't tell you the number of intelligent, fully-grown women (and men) I encounter even to this day who go to singles bars and meat markets with illusions of finding a dream man who fits equal parts Sir Lancelot and James Dean.
      So many people wind up having sex when what they really want is love and tenderness. This seems like a teen dilemma that bleeds into adulthood if you don't "wake up"...and in "Smooth Talk" I think that is the allegory. A difficult and sad "awakening" to adult reality.

      By the way, I've never been able to sit thorough "The Accused" either. It's strange where I draw my lines. I think I feel similarly to you about racism-violence films. I have a difficult time with them and can rarely watch them. So much so that simple westerns are often difficult for me because the kind of routine "frontier justice" of these movies reminds me of Ferguson, 60s civil Rights atrocities, and life as a black man in America.

      Thanks so much for a thought-provoking comment which allowed me to extrapolate even more on this interesting, but not for everyone film!

    2. I love your response Ken, it was great. From personal experience, we/I allowed myself to lured, part rebellion, part I can change that; that's usually the key. We believe that it will be different with us. But for me, it was a prayer, not a reality and you live to tell.

      It's great to read that you draw lines in what you're able to watch and if you're like me, that changes as I age. As life is lived, movies that used to be funny aren't funny anymore. What used to be okay, I've found myself questioning how I could have ever purchased the movie.

      Again, always great to know more about you through your writing; thank you.

  6. Ken,

    Another well-written piece. And I'm enjoying all the comments, both opposing and agreeing, on Smooth Talk. I'm in the middle. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" is one of my all-time favorite short stories. I may read it again this weekend now that I've read this. But I think it was used as a very hazy source for Smooth Talk. It was almost a jumping off point, not an interpretation. As a girl who was just a few years older than the protagonist, a lot of it didn't ring totally true. The use of the JT music, for instance, was really off. Not that I have anything against JT, but that was music I learned to appreciate in my 20s, NOT my teens. And maybe it's because I was more of an aware girl, more of an adult as a teen (for various reasons) that the naiveté of Connie just bugged me. As a previous commenter said, it was her unawareness of danger, and to me, her stupidity. That sounds harsh, I know. What the movie did get right was the mall culture - 100 percent. And I have no quibbles with the performances. Across the board great. I miss Elizabeth Berridge. Loved her so much in Amadeus. I'm digressing now....Thanks again for another great read with my morning coffee!

    1. Thanks Tanya
      Yes, the short story the film is based upon is so lean that a considerable amount of "fleshing out" was necessary for a feature film (wish I could find the link to a piece where Oates talks about the film...maybe you can Google it. She liked it a lot and was very gracious about the liberties taken with her allegorical conclusion).
      I think you have a good point about the James Taylor music. When I was a teen in the 70s, my older sister used to play his music all the time, so of course I could relate, but by the 80s you're no doubt right.
      And probably what is most interesting in all discussions about "Smooth Talk" is where everyone falls regarding Connie's "naivete." I don't think I appreciated until now how much our own experiences color how her character can come across. It's like being on a jury; if you've never been a careless person, can careless behavior be understood? The challenge of writers (and filmmakers) is to induce us to get into other characters' heads...people perhaps not like us. Perhaps that lies at the core of "Smooth Talk"s reception, maybe the writers weren't successful in bringing some viewers into Connie's head to the degree that her behaviors seemed, if not familiar, at least understandable.
      I learn a lot from comments like yours.
      Oh, and I have yet to see "Amadeus"... this is a good reminder for my Netflix list. Thanks, Tanya. Always love hearing from you!

  7. Ken,

    I saw this film in a theater during its initial release and it floored me. I remember hoping to find a VHS copy "used" for a number of years after. Then life and many other movies happened and it slipped from my immediate wish list. Thank you for reminding me. I believe it's time to re-view. Treat Williams is reason enough but add to his appearance a smartly crafted screenplay and pitch perfect performances... I cannot wait.


    PS: I adore Elizabeth Berridge... Sure she was in AMADEUS, but then she showed up in FIVE CORNERS making her chewing gum dance while huffing airplane glue from a paper bag and THEN showed up in the short-lived John Laroquette Show playing one of the only memorable characters written for the show... Come back to the five and dime, Elizabeth Berridge, Elizabeth Berridge

  8. That's wonderful that you are such a fan of Elizabeth Berridge, an actress i haven't seen in much, but first encountered in the cheapo horror film "Funhouse."
    You're fortunate to have seen "Smooth Talk" in a theater. I allowed the rather blah ad campaign (which conveyed nothing) to keep me from seeking it out. If this piece has inspired you to revisit the film after so many years, I hope the viewing proves as pleasurable for you as it did for me. It holds up beautifully.
    Nice to hear from you again. Thanks for commenting!

  9. Hi Ken-
    Wow, what a wonderful essay...not only expounding on the film but discussing a subject that usually never gets widely discussed. So admirable how much of yourself you put into your writing. It's always appreciated.
    Not sure if you've heard yet, but Criterion is putting out Smooth Talk in February with a bunch of nice extras. I'd never heard of the film before your post but I'm looking forward to checking it out when the blu ray drops. I'll revisit your post once I do.

    1. Hey Pete
      I'm finding a sure sign of my advancing age is that I've lived long enough to see favorites of mine that were once overlooked, forgotten, or laughed-at, now recognized as films of interest.
      My favorite line from CHINATOWN seems to grow more fitting with every year: "Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough."

      SMOOTH TALK was always a movie of quality, but one difficult to sell. I'm glad it's getting the attention it has always deserved.

      I'm very pleased you enjoyed my essay. I think you share my feelings in that what is the use of watching so many films if they don't in some ways reflect, impact, or inspire your life?
      There are so many movie review blogs around, the only interest I ever had in writing one was to have t be a diary record of my emotional connection with films. I'm always doubly grateful if a reader ever finds any value in that.
      I have indeed heard of the forthcoming Criterion release, and I love that perhaps a pristine copy with all those enticing extras will be the way you experience the film for the first time. I'm certain you'll enjoy it.
      Thanks for including the link, too! It's sure to interest anyone stopping here to read about this film.