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  • 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.
  • When you think 'Oliver Stone' the movies that come to mind would be his biggest and most controversial ones like Platoon, JFK, Born On The Fourth Of July, or Natural Born Killers. Talk Radio usually doesn't. It's a pretty small movie, actually. More than half the movie takes place with Barry Champlain at his radio station talking into his mike. But believe me, this is one of Oliver Stone's greatest movies and should NOT be missed.

    Above all things it's a character study. Barry Champlain is a rude, self-destructive, risk-taking talk radio show host who says one too many things and starts to get in trouble with his boss, his lover(s), his fans, and even some Nazis. He doesn't like his audience and callers and a lot of them don't like him (eithor that or do like him, but have no idea why). But, at the end he says on his show: "I guess we're stuck with each other."

    See Talk Radio, even if you don't like Oliver Stone movies. You might be surprised. I sure was.

    My Rating: 10/10
  • From the offset, I knew this was going to be a terrific movie, the pace, the cinematography, personalities indigenous to the Dallas area, the diversification of characters, not to mention the director Oliver Stone and of course Eric Bogasian...The film starts out on a Friday (suggestively occult in the first place) and begins with a radio station in Dallas that is hosting their number one talk show, The Barry Champlain Show (Based on the Talk Radio Host Alan Berg)...Barry (Eric Bogasian) is the abrasive radio talk show host and his job is such whereby it is compulsory to pontificate all of the sensationalistic nuances of the radio audience feeding into his show...He attempts to commiserate with a bunch of societal deviates turned lonely, vulnerable, obscene phone callers who have the masochistic craving to be publicly vilified, Barry Champlain is effective in coping with this precarious ilk, by socially debasing them rather than simply subjugating them to mere admonishment...New technologies serve a stigmatic purpose for the Dallas radio audience, and paramount concepts take a backseat to perversion, talk about "Baseball Scores, Orgasms and People's Pets!!"

    The whole thing is a cacophony of drug-induced diatribes and a potpourri for psychopathic paranoia!! This high profile cannon fodder is something that Barry Champlain thrives on!!! The convoluted pathos, the deranged proclivities deeriving from inaneities and puveyors of pornography and the overall pop culture afflictions serve as volatile ammunition for Barry Champlain's stilted battleground!!

    The setting for this movie is perfect in that there is a two thousand foot drop in terms of ideology.. In the the center of Dallas there is an overbearing sense of cosmopolitan awareness, whereby 20 miles away resides a significant chapter of the Ku Klux Klan!!...The play is based in Denver,that is where the actual story takes place, other small theater plays depict the cities of Louisville, Atlanta and Cleveland. Dallas is the city where the film takes place, I thought it was an excellent choice!!...This movie illustrates how people have a horrid and erroneous and deadly misconceptualization of the Jewish people in America, whereby they control the banks, their agenda is different than everybody else's and their intellectual literature leads to perversion!! These preconceived notions compound Barry Champlain's overall dilemma!!! Barry Champlain's personal undoing is whereby he is irascible and non-responsive to his alcoholism, and his abrasive and politically controversial nature is his ultimate undoing, this is what makes the film so believable!!

    The characters in the movie were well portrayed, Dan, the tailor made for middle management hatchet man (played by Alec Baldwin) who was constantly monitoring Barry Champlain's every move!!..Laura, his girlfriend, also his producer, will constantly feel Barry is someone who is always misunderstood!! Ellen, his ex-wife, is a recipient of Barry's anguish and selfishness, but cannot quite relinquish her feelings for Barry regardless of the path of personal destruction he winds up resorting to!! The Dallas radio audience is a melting pot of socially misplaced retro-bates who are dementedly amused by their own real shortcomings!!!...In part, everybody's hang-ups including Barry Champlain's own hang-ups are what do Barry Champlain in!! His audience ogles depravity, solicits amelioration and ultimately becomes Barry Champlain's pet project for prescribed sinners!! Social culture conflicts become Barry Champlain's downfall!!

    This movie is superb!! In my opinion Oliver Stone's best picture, including Platoon and Natural Born Killers..That statement in of itself tells you how magnificent a film Talk Radio is...The story consulting and acting and co-producing of Eric Bogosian is simply compelling!! The camera angles, the dialogue, the haunting character portrayals, all top notch..The cinematography of the Dallas skyline at the end of the movie is terrific!! Dallas has the dubious distinction of being deemed a mega metropolis...So now, just like Los Angeles and New York, there are crack baby cases too numerous to count, low cost housing neighborhoods from Hell and budgets cuts that will mean there will be a significant number of people who will be dead by this time next year!!!!...Dallas asserts it's status as a major metropolitan area in the precarious manner by which human debauchery prevails!! The city has it's lynching radio listeners who have given a pejorative spin to the marvel of nationwide air wave communication!! These are the culprits in the movie!! The ghoulish tabloid derelicts who want to meet the big bad wolf, and their decadent curiosity has morally obliterated "The last neighborhood in America"
  • Warning: Spoilers

    Barry Champlain, (Eric Bogosian), hosts a late night radio talk show. He talks about how he "despises each and every one of you." He berates anyone who calls him. Even fans get put through the wringer. He is very good at pushing people's buttons. He's so good that a big corporation wants to pick up his show for national syndication. He may be a little too good as he is also inflaming most of his deranged fans to the point of death threats.

    "Talk Radio" is a great movie. The tagline for the movie is "The last neighborhood in America". That claim may have been superseded by message boards on the internet. Of course, the principle is still the same: Anonymous people yell at each other over some random topic. Nothing ever gets solved. The "talk" is the entertainment. How effectively you can upset your opponent is how you win the game. Champlain is the master.

    Bogosian is the movie. We watch him launch tirade after tirade against his listening audience. It's hilarious. His stress management consists of him having a cathartic experience every night. He still ends up hating everybody. And himself.

    See this movie.
  • I have never been a great fan of Oliver Stone, often because I have found his films to be forced, preachy and generally flawed. The two Stone films I truly like are JFK and Talk Radio, yet Talk Radio takes the cake for being Stone's finest achievement. Stone is a director whereby you are either a fan or you are not, it is safe to say that before watching Talk Radio I was not fond of the guy and considered one of the most overrated directors in the film industry, though after watching Talk Radio some of my perceptions have changed. Talk Radio is an unsettling and amusing attack on what is now known as "reality TV".

    Talk Radio follows a self-indulgent, dysfunctional, determined, hysterical, outrageous and perplexing radio host, named Barry Champlain who hosts a controversial late-night radio show in Dallas. Quickly becoming well known for his bold and quirky air-presence he becomes a late night sensation, whereby depraved junkies, delinquents, racists, sociopaths, sickos, perverts and morons call in to be ridiculed on air. The film shows the rise and fall of the man's career, carefully making an accurate portrayal on freedom of speech. Originally adapted from a stage-play, the film attaches itself to the theatre theme that it was originally built around, wonderfully conveying the film's fierce nature.

    With the ferocious energy and non-stereotypical air, Talk Radio brings all the hilarity behind "crass media". It remains even more poignant today than it was in the late '80s. The film goes into depth studying the likes of arrogance, self-obsession, offensive behaviour, controversy, hypocrisy and ignorance. The film shows through a controlled manner how it is good to have a personal opinion and freedom of speech, yet it is something that should be used wisely rather than shamefully blunt. Stone tries to show how freedom of speech is a crucial importance in life, but is something that we should be wary and cautious about. The film asks the question of "is our main protagonist just the same as the sad people who call up the show?"

    Stone fabulously creates the film's key set-piece (the radio station) with an ambition and cold atmosphere. He then succeeds in capturing the isolation, fear, ambiguity and the dangerous emotions that are built up at the radio station. Eric Bogosian is perfectly cast as the isolated, self-absorbed and complex genius, Barry Champlain. He fits the role perfectly letting off his lines with such enthusiasm, urgency, perplexity, brusqueness and ultimately the bold hilarity of his offensive nature. The performance brims with spark, which was evidently robbed of an Oscar nomination. His voice suits the character, being that a primary element of a radio host and his power of acting along with tragedy and comedy works brilliantly.

    There is a strong use of editing in Stone's films and Talk Radio boasts some of his cleanest, most rhythmic editing. He uses beautifully controlled camera techniques, which differ from being calm to suddenly becoming turbulent. There is a vibrant energy behind the film, with its raw and wonderfully delightful script working as a centre-piece for the greatness of the film. The striking and virtuous cinematography stands out in the moments inside and outside the studio, most impressively capturing the city at night. Not forgetting the hauntingly heartbreaking and yet darkly funny climatic "spiral to decline" is ultimately remarkable cinema.

    Talk Radio is an essential modern masterpiece, I am certain you will be surprised by just how great it really is. I highly recommend Talk Radio for anyone interested in media or film. Talk Radio is a fine example of top-notch, intellectual and insightful entertainment, which still packs a well-earned wakeup call. Finally, if it was not for Eric Bogosian the film would not be the fun, delightful and enduring masterpiece it is today.
  • I have seen it a few times and get completely glued to it every time. It is very suspenseful and intense. To describe it sounds boring but it is amazing. It is the kind of movie where you need can't miss a thing, but if you soak it in it sticks with you long after it ends. Now thinking about it I don't even know what Stone was trying to make us see. Just the story of Alan Green? I don't think so. It was a look at ignorance, stupidity, self-absorption, and a guy just loosing his grip. Maybe he had more grip than the listeners though. I didn't like Barry but still seemed worried about him for some reason. I was perplexed at why I couldn't get him out of my mind when the movie ended. I wish I could see inside Olive Stone's mind for this one.
  • sol-kay14 June 2005
    ***SPOILERS*** For some strange reason Oliver Stone's "Talk Radio" based on the Stephen Singular book "Talked to Death" and the films star Eric Bogosian's play, about the 1984 murder of Denver talk show host Alan Berg, has never gotten the recognition that it so rightfully deserved. The 1988 movie was prophetic enough to recognize the underground movement that was developing in the farm and hinterland of America. A movement that spawned, some seven years later, the likes of an angry and disgruntled Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh who's hatred for the US governments actions in Wacco Texas lead to his and friend,Terry Nichols, detonation of the US Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 that took the lives of 168 people, the worst act of terrorism on US soil up to that time.

    The movie is, as far as I know, the first time that any major branch of the entertainment media mentioned and elaborated on the rural militia novel "The Turner Diaries" by the late William L. Pierce, that has since become a chilling underground classic. "The Turner Diaries" forecast a domestic and utterly disastrous terrorist attack, like the Oklahoma City bombing, on a US Government Federal facility which was the FBI Building in Washington D.C.

    Dallas radio station KGAB talk show host Barry Champlain, Eric Bogosian, is the top rated show in the Dallas listening area and is now about to go national. Barry get's his high rating by his razor sharp wit and abusive behavior when he's on the air. Taking on all comers and ducking no issues, no matter how unpopular or taboo they are, has gotten Barry to be the most listened to as well as hated man on radio. Barry being a showman at heart and not thinking that his talk can lead to violence keeps up his abrasiveness to his call-in listeners as his rating go up to the celling. But there are those in the listening audience, mostly ultra right wing types, that don't take too kindly to his in your face attitude. One of them decides to take matters into his on hand at Barry's expense.

    Powerhouse performance by Eric Bogosian as the tragic Barry Champlain who crossed the line from entertainment to hard reality in his actions on the radio. Thinking that he's not that important to be sought out and murdered for his on the air opinions which is enemies dislike he found out only too late that there are those out there who are crazy enough to do to him on the outside. Also in the movie "Talk Radio" is a very young Alic Baldwin as Barry's boss Dan who tries to have him soften his tone but in the end goes along with his talk show style since he's killing the competition not realizing that in the end it's him that he'll end up getting killed.

    Both Ellen Green and Leslie Hope are the two women in Barry's life his ex-wife Ellen and now lover and talk show producer Laura whom Barry uses to his advantage and almost ends up losing both of them at the same time. The 1988 film "Talk Radio" is so far ahead of it's time that even if you watch it now in 2005 you still think that it's too disturbing to be shown to an over sensitive and delicate American public.
  • WOW, a masterpiece of a movie not to be missed.

    I had no idea what this movie was when I started watching it late night. I didn't find out it was a Stone film until after the film when I went on IMDb. Watching it, I was mesmerized. The cast, especially Eric Bogosian is just superb. One of the best scripts and camera work ever...The movie drew me in and kept me entranced until the very end...I did not dare blink for fear of missing something...Amazing how a small-budget film can be so engrossing and well made while huge-budget films that feature tons of action and computer generated special effects can be so incredibly boring. Don't miss this film...
  • "Talk Radio" is my favorite Oliver Stone movie, though he has made many great ones including "Salvador", "JFK", "Natural Born Killers" and "Platoon". But I like the intimacy of "Talk Radio", a cinematic expansion of Eric Bogosian's searing stage play that was based on a real life account of a Dallas talk show host. Working with ace cinematographer Robert Richardson, Stone turns what could have been a very set-bound exercise into a visually arresting ideological battle that presents a radio station as an arena of war. Bogosian is devastating as tortured on-air spouter of abuse Barry Champlain and conveys the conflicted, destructive nature of his character with conviction and a generous dose of self-loathing. Alec Baldwin, as his Alpha male boss, strikes the perfect note as a man driven nuts by a guy whose monstrousness he helped nurture. Ellen Greene is fantastic as Barry's sweet ex-wife who ends up becoming another target of his vicious personal vitriol. Stone and Bogosian fill every frame with interest and every line of dialog with sweet poison and cutting ambiguity. John C. McGinley, as Barry's long-suffering screener/technical producer Stu, turns in a hilarious, sharp performance, as does the great Michael Wincott. The film is a flawless, underrated masterpiece of superb writing, awesome acting and brutal, uncompromising direction. The Stewart Copeland score is brilliant, too.
  • kosmasp6 April 2007
    Oliver Stone is not one to shy away from a movie or theme for that matter. He is eager to confront people with their fears or show them their ugly faces in the mirror. Look on his CV for proof! This movie is not an exception, quite on the contrary, it is another gem, that unfortunately not many have seen.

    As controversial movies go, this is one that you should be thankful for. A movie that should encourage you to think about you, the people next to you. The prejudices that do exist and that everyone of us has in one form or another. Either we like to admit it or not, but it is easier to categorize people and be like "Ah he's 'xyz', yeah he must be like ...". Now I might be reading too much into it, but I don't believe that. I believe that Oliver Stone is a very intelligent filmmaker and that he was aiming for those things. And if that's something you want to explore (as a movie or within yourself), than watch this film and be excited!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Talk Radio is of course, probably not the most well known of Stone's films, but don't let that put you off, this film is ripe for discovery, I defy anyone not to be entranced by it. Along with the best performance of 80's cinema by Eric Bogosian, for me (along with JFK)this remains Stone's finest moment. Stone doesn't seem to comment much on it these days and didn't do a director's commentary on DVD like all his other films. Stone has nothing to be ashamed of, most directors would kill to get a shot @ a film like this.

    The claustrophobia of the studio is intense and the opinions of Champlain are still very crucial arguments for today. The "legalise all drugs" speech is powerful and you might find yourself agreeing with him.In my opinion the film is about freedom of speech and how sometimes people don't like hearing things they don't agree with.The speeches and conversations with the listeners are very compelling, even disturbing, a chill ran down my spine when a crazed man calls Champlain saying he has to rape again because the city drives him crazy is totally shocking.The tension is sometimes unbearable with a scene when Heavy metaller Kent becomes unhinged, of course Champlain does himself no favours by ridiculing him. Champlain(or should I say Bogosian) is fearless in film and performance, totally mesmerising, a shame th@ Bogosians other big role was the villain in Under Siege 2(dear god!!)One scene th@ didn't ring true was when Barry's boss Dan(Alec Baldwin) gets him to calm down, Barry doesn't seem to be the kind of person who shuts up and does as he's told, it seemed a bit contrived and clich├ęd.The scenes outside the studio are criticised for being too formulaic, it's true because Stone is trying to make the film more cinematic and allow the viewer to see Champlains beginnings but it doesn't entirely work.

    It is a brilliantly cinematic film with extreme close-ups, deep focus, extremely fast cuts a fantastic 360 set which is used for the final breathtaking monologue. Must see cinema, it makes it rare because it was ignored @the time but is now receiving attention again which it so richly deserves. A classic th@ should be studied by generations of film students.

    10 out of 10 for inventive use of "Bad To The Bone" before T2, brilliant supporting cast including John C Mcginley(Dr Cox from Scrubs) as the sleazy Stu, Leslie Hope(24)as Champlains girlfriend, John Pankow and Alec Baldwin as the suits and Micheal Wincott who plays three roles( a very underrated actor), the tension between the listeners and Champlain which is very heart-racing @ times and of course kudos to the stars Bogosian and Stone for such a fantastic piece of cinema. Enjoy!
  • I tend to be inclined towards movies about people who choose to cross the barriers of censorship, and express what they really want to express. Eric Bogosian's character of Barry is like Howard Stern, but much more intelligent. The character itself is very fascinating. As an Oliver Stone film, I guess I was expecting more. The film sags a bit during the third act. Plus, it's pretty obvious that "Talk Radio" is based on a play, with its long dialogue scenes. But overall, the film works. Bogosian is great in the lead, and the fact that he also wrote the play from which the movie was based on probably helped him. If you want to check out one of Stone's greater films, I better suggest you check out "JFK" or "Salvador." This is not his best work, but a good movie nonetheless.
  • Never having seen an Oliver Stone film before, nor any films starring Eric Bogosian, I didn't know what to expect from this film. Having toyed with the idea of buying it for a while, I finally got it for free as a supplement with a Sunday newspaper and I was hugely impressed.

    It tells the story of Barry Champlain, a talk radio host who can be incredibly rude towards his callers, often putting them in their place before they realise what's going on. Though this is what has made him a popular radio show host, it has also earned him numerous enemies.

    The acting in this film was hugely impressive with not one dud actor in it. Eric Bogosian is brilliant as Barry Champlain, the troubled talk radio host with Alec Baldwin turning in a strong performance as Barry's boss, Dan. It also features the voice of, and cameo appearance by, Michael Wincott (my reason for wanting to see this).

    The story was really well written as, despite his arrogance, you feel for Barry as more about his troubled life is revealed and you see how vulnerable he really is.

    I'd recommend this film to anyone as it is captivating and, more importantly real on numerous levels, two of which being that is was inspired by the life of an actual talk radio host and the fact that you do actually get radio show hosts, and callers, like the ones featured in the film in reality.

    High recommendation and 10/10.

    Aye yours, Cat Squire
  • Probably one of his lesser known films, it suffers from the same lack of exposure as Salvador in that its actually one of his best.

    Written by and starring Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio tells the story of an opinionated radio phone-in host who upsets the wrong kind of listener. The film is important, and has much to say on the issues of free speech and just how free it should be, and you can easily tell that it started life as a stage play. Know what you're getting into before you sit down to watch it and you'll be fine.

    There isn't much to the acting really as Bogosian pretty much steals the film, he wrote and is given licence to rant, I couldn't take my eyes off him and that was part of the fascination many of the listeners had; the people who hated him wouldn't turn off in-case they missed something.

    Not for everyone, but a very good drama and overall a very good film.
  • A top notch drama enhanced by Stone's camera work. The story involves the meteoric rise and fall of a popular shock-jock. The main character's ego and opinions drip out of his pores like sweat on a hot afternoon. Stone's camera sweeps and glides around the radio studio like a hungry panther. His use of reflections turns up the heat until the whole world starts to warp and melt around the main character as his world starts to crumble. Bogosian's dialogue is sharp but sometimes preachy. The voices over the telephone seem brainwashed and generic but I think that was done with purpose to enhance the DJ's view of his audience as being mindless followers. The technical work on this film is what does it for me. It adds up to a fine film.
  • I found this fascinating when it came out. How I would feel about it now might be different, knowing Oliver Stone's beliefs and how he likes to put them on film. Back then, I didn't care. I just looked at this as a character study of a nasty and very disturbed radio talk show host who had nutty callers and was nuts himself.

    I have to warn viewers - and this has nothing to do with politics - after the riveting first 30 minutes, this lead character "Barry Champlain" (Eric Bogosian) wears thin big-time. He is so obnoxious that he makes this movie uncomfortable to watch in a number of areas. This is not fun to witness, folks, but Bogosian does a super job in the lead role.

    Personally, this story is so full of anger, hatred and sordidness that I wouldn't watch it again. However, if you know all this in advance and appreciate fine acting and different kind of story, it's worth checking out. Just don't expect to be uplifted!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Alright, the first time I seen "Talk Radio" was in a video store for only $2.00 on VHS believe it or not, and I looked at it and I thought it might be about Howard Stern, because I just looked at it for about thirty seconds, then just didn't see it again. Then I went to another store about a month later and I found "Talk Radio" on DVD for only $5.00. So I see it was directed by Oliver Stone, and I picked it up. So after the film was over I was speechless. I have never seen such a film like this. Here's the main plot, then i'll tell ya what I thought of it.

    It is about a Dallas talk radio host Barry Champlain, a Jewish radio host who talks about whatever other people bring up and he interupts, and is taking everything seriously. Now, a network wants to put his show live everywhere in the U.S. So Barry's show gets a lot of interesting phone callers like Chet (a neo-natzi), Kent (a rock n roll drugged kid), John (rapist), and others. Now some of the callers sound like the same actor/actresses. But still I think it fits okay.

    Now what I love a lot about this film is the dark corners and the paranoid atmosphere of the radio station. The dark music in the background fits very nicely too. It has a flashback scene in the film also how he started with radio, which I think they did good on.

    But the great thing about the film is ending. I was surprised by it, and it kind of makes you feel paranoid a little about the phone callers off the air and everything about it is wonderful. It also tells you how to say the right things to people over a big city like Dallas. One of Oliver Stone's underrated/weakest films mentioned, but I think it's his best in my opinion.

    But definitely get this film if you like films with paranoia-feel like films with a dark atmosphere with sinister music in the background. I still watch this film a lot of the times now when i'm bored, as matter fact I watched it tonight. Yeah, if ya wanna really get the sinister feel to the film, watch it at nightime with the lights off. I may sound crazy, but it makes the film better!

    Another thing I forgot to mention is that the reason I don't think the film did so well was maybe in my point of view because of the title. 'Talk Radio.' It doesn't sound very tricky or anything, it's kind of plain. A better title like the book "Talked To Death" or maybe "The Abusive Radio Host" or something catchy and not plain "Talk Radio". Or maybe because of Universal Pictures? Oliver Stone usually didn't do Universal I don't think. Paramount might have been a good company. I don't know, something about this film didn't do so well, but I love it.

    "Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can cause permanent damage."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Barry Champlain is a radio phone-in talk-show host in Dallas, whose no-holds-barred ideas on a plethora of social issues disturb and offend many of his callers and listeners. Is Barry a media messiah in search of truth, or a social misfit out to assault his audience ?

    This is an intense, provocative character piece about a man with almost no redeeming features who at the same time seems to be onto some really profound philosophy. Though co-written and directed by Stone, this is really Bogosian's piece all the way and he gives an astonishingly hard-edged and penetrating performance from which there is no escape. Barry is at times one of the most loathsome characters imaginable, spewing bilious misanthropy at everyone around him, particularly those who care about him. But at the same time he is also strangely empathetic, hypnotic, sage, even lovable. Bogosian's hawkish features burn into the frame, with his green eyes constantly darting around as if permanently seeking an answer to some riddle. The movie is essentially an angry, self-righteous rant against all the bigotry, injustice and banality in the world, culminating in a wild three-and-a-half-minute rotating single shot of Barry delivering the ultimate I-hate-everything speech, but boy does it pack a punch. The support cast are great, particularly Greene as the ex-wife and Baldwin as the boss. Robert Richardson's keen photography manages to keep the single radio studio set looking interesting and there's a tense score by Stewart Copeland, with a moving coda featuring that endearing phone-music piece, Telephone And Rubber Band by The Penguin Cafe Orchestra. If you're unfamiliar with Bogosian, check out his amazing talent in this flick - like his contemporaries, Bill Hicks and Denis Leary, he's someone who rarely appears in the mainstream media, purely because his writing is so out there. I find Stone's movies variable; I don't much care for his big successes, but when he is more ordered and objective, as with this (or Salvador and Nixon), he is much more incisive and arresting. A great primal scream of a picture, based on a play by Bogosian, inspired by the true story of Alan Berg, a Denver radio talk show host who was murdered by neo-Nazis in 1984.
  • Cjrod331 March 2007
    The most remarkable thing about "Talk Radio" is how bad it is. The callers' voices all have a phony, reading-from-a-script ring to them. An evening with an annoying loudmouth at a Dallas radio station is told with the portentousness of a Sartrean glimpse into Hell. Stone tries for an existential revelation and gets unintended comedy instead. Whenever a caller makes a "profound" (empty) point about something, Stone shoves the camera at one of his character's face as they are stricken with some traumatic realization that is never revealed to the audience. Bogosian overacts throughout in one of the most irritating performances ever smeared onto celluloid. Underrated classic? Give me a break.
  • When it comes to movies, I don't easily discriminate between crap, pure crap and masterpieces. I believe this movie is an absolute masterpiece and it's hard to keep me entertained for more than 90 minutes. This movie ran SLOWER than Mystic River and Harry Potter 3 combined and I still managed to stay riveted to my seat. For me, it was the passion that Eric Bogosian put into his performance. It's extremely difficult to pull off such a stunt and manage to garner any positive effect from it. Bogosian probably nailed one of the toughest single-man performances in modern cinema. I didn't have any respect for Bogosian until the end of the film. The entire monologue minutes before the inexorable climax was the turning point, it was the key that turned me around. This man hit a point so low that he knew he could never recover from it. The corporate boys congratulated him on the performance. His blistering prose made even the slimiest one in the cavalcade shake his head in awe. It made me realize that personal integrity and hypocrisy don't matter in the world of talk radio, even in the corporate world for that matter. Stone may have been pushing some uber-liberal agenda but it was the actual movie and production that got my attention. Oliver Stone is a minor master of the moody. The final third of the film had probably the best lighting and cinematography I have seen in any film. Stone artfully makes the DJ booth feel like five-by-seven cell in a nineteenth century prison. Visually speaking, it appears that Bogosian's only friend is the black foam that absorbs his routine vitriol. He speaks and it doesn't speak back. It's a sad metaphor considering the way he treats the people who handed him his success. Stone and Bogosian carved out a stunning film of a man who is trapped in both a prison of walls and a prison of self. This man is confined to his own volition and he can never escape it. The scene that made me realize his conundrum was when he was unwilling to his ex-wife back. He preferred his own prison instead of the world on the outside. Every story has a conflict and it came down to the simplest of all conflicts: man versus himself. 'Talk Radio' presents this conflict in an intelligent, gripping, and artful fashion. There are no hidden messages in this film and the progression of events should be expected by any astute viewer. I just leaned back and let my mind be grasped by this film and I loved it. It's unheralded, unseen, and it will never receive its due recognition. Let's hope it stays that way because gems deserve to be found and then hidden again. It's a gem because I found it in the discount DVD bin at my local Wal-Mart store. For $5.50, it was worth the half-hour I spent digging trying to find it. I did and I got more than my money's worth. This is one of the best movies ever made and that is worth ten reasons alone. Ten reasons give a score of ten.

    Here ends my rant!
  • zap18 January 2005
    Excellent and highly under-rated from beginning to end. One of Oliver's best. Well Scripted, Directed, Shot, Acted and Stuarts Copeland's soundtrack (Trivia: the music during the end credits vaguely sounds like a late 90's Pop hit by "Spacehog" Band

    Eric and Cast are Brilliant, let alone the Callers. What a whirlwind of emotions. It make's your hair stand on end. (..."Necks will be broke and whips will Crack"--in a old female southern accent.. Yike! creepy. Scary than any Horror Movie.

    10 out of 10

  • Woodyanders19 March 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    Abrasive shock jock Barry Champlain (a bracing and bravura performance by Eric Bogosian, who also co-wrote the biting script with director Oliver Stone) has an exceptional dexterity when it comes to pushing people's buttons and eliciting the most vehement positive and negative reactions from his motley assortment of callers. Over the course of a weekend Barry gets offered a national syndication deal, but instead decides to push the limits of what his co-workers and audience alike are willing to put up from him. Stone and Bogosian do a masterful job of crafting a fascinatingly dark and despairing portrait of a self-loathing and self-destructive egomaniac whose abusive love/hate codependent relationship with his lonely and loopy listeners skirts danger and disaster at every turn. Indeed, the alarming and eye-opening expose of the fear, anger, confusion, ignorance, and instability existent in the troubled heartland of America possesses a profoundly unsettling sense of deep-seated hostility and misanthropy that still resonates strongly today in this age in which people have easy access to web boards that enable them to spew off all kinds of nasty vitriol and foul invective at everyone and everything. While Bogosian clearly dominates the picture with his dynamic acting, he nonetheless receives excellent support from Alec Baldwin as hard-nosed station manager Dan, Ellen Greene as Barry's sweet ex-wife Ellen, Leslie Hope as Barry's caring and concerned producer girlfriend Laura, John C. McGinley as loyal engineer Stu, John Pankow as pesky advertising executive Dietz, and Michael Wincott as zonked-out stoner fan Kent. Robert Richardson's restless and energetic cinematography keeps the movie humming. Stewart Copeland's spare moody score likewise does the trick. A really edgy and provocative knockout.
  • Sandwiched between his Oscar-winning films WALL STREET and BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, Oliver Stone brilliantly blends co-writer/actor Eric Bogosian's original stage play with the real life murder of Denver radio show host Alan Berg in what is often called his most underrated film to date.

    Dallas radio show host Barry Champlain's penchant for abusing and pushing people's buttons has led him to an offer he couldn't refuse...

    A chance for taking his show to national syndication. Upon hearing the news, Champlain subjects his ex-wife (Ellen Greene, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL) along with his co-workers to an unforgettable night of offending his audience. But somewhere, a mysterious killer is lurking in the shadows...

    Bogosian gives probably an ingenious performance as the arrogant host with intense energy and bravura presence. Another actor that also stood out is Michael Wincott (THE DOORS, THE CROW) as the air-headed metal kid who somehow ended up as an unscheduled guest. At the center of this chaos is Greene who brings sincerity and concern to her committed performance.

    Stone delivers a live-wire satire on "Shock radio" and the politics of adjusting Barry Champlain's controversial persona for the masses. However, the issue of media predominance would later be revisited in NATURAL BORN KILLERS six years later.

    TALK RADIO is a film that gets you to the core. It is an underrated experience that you will never forget.
  • Oliver Stone is known for making somewhat controversial films that oftentimes shape history to his liking. This film is completely different than the normal Stone. It's a character piece studying the madness that a radio talk show host is thrown into, and 80% of the film takes place in one setting, which makes the film both perfectly uncomfortable and claustrophobic, and allows intimacy with the protagonist. In addition to that, this is shot so well, taking full use of the tiny little set used.

    Barry Champlain (star and screen/playwriter Eric Bogosian) is a talk radio host out of Dallas that hosts a controversial show offending many of his listeners. Barry has a failed marriage that he would like to rekindle, and even his fans seem to hate him. After being told his local show is going national, Barry has to put on one final local show, and in doing it, gains an insight into his audience.

    Eric Bogosian first wrote this film as a play, and it was fleshed out to make this movie, and really there could not have been a better actor to play Barry than Eric. In addition to his great voice, he brings the perfect level of arrogance to the role, which contrasts nicely against the moronic callers the voice their lack of opinion on his show. The whole movie has a lack of opinion, and becomes a movie about the lack of opinion in people, Barry's revelation about this is a great scene.

    The blocking and camera angles in the small radio set are great. Stone and his cinematographer Robert Richardson play with shadowy close-ups, and shots through windows with reflections, and angles that give the film a kind of creepy feel. The intimacy of the set, along with the callers who threaten to kill Barry give a constant feeling that something bad is going to happen. The direction and the writing meld perfectly together to make this fairly straightforward character piece a thriller. You don't really know what's around the bend, but the feeling of dread is strong.

    Overall, this film is a character study, and at the same time, a minimalist thriller, relying completely on the audience's imagination as to what is going to happen. The dialogue is sharp, the acting is great, and the cinematography is cramped in a good way, showing a certain madness. This is definitely right up there with Stone's very best work!

    My rating: **** out of ****. 109 mins. Rated R for language.
  • Absolutely nothing. The movies that are great in this world are not recognized unless they are filled with gunshots, explosions, and death. This movie is filled with a man talking about showing you a more complex character than has been seen in many movies.

    When a movie is incredibly fast paced but stays mostly in one location it has to be the work of a genius. Surprisingly enough, it is, this movie is directed by Oliver Stone and therefore is one of the best directed films of our time.

    This movie's screenplay was co-written by Oliver Stone and Eric Bogosian (Barry Champlain, main character.). With Oliver Stone's help, the screenplay was created as a seamless, rolling script which keeps you interested the entire time if you have any amount of intelligence. If you have an open mind about any subjects, and the wit to comprehend others, then this movie is something which you should find some way to watch, immediately.
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