OSS17-0209/0321FW101-1: From the Files of O.S.S.
Supplementary to our article on the subgenre of One Crazy Night movies, we present a dossier for your further deliberation. Set yer videos and get back to us!
American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)
Lucas and Coppola forge an evocation of American youth utterly absorbing in its authenticity and revolutionary in its execution, culminating in scenes that communicate the gripping thrill of young adulthood’s plangent romance as affectingly as any art I’ve ever experienced. There was a time when cinema in America sought to speak truth; American Zoetrope led that charge.
The Warriors (Walter Hill, 1979)
A key cinematic extrapolation-cum-depiction of late ’70s New York City, the pre-Guiliani “lawless megatoilet” of Taxi Driver through Downtown 81 to Do The Right Thing. Broken and broke, filthy, craven to criminality, a ripped leather jacket with a personality disorder and a knife. But then 30 years later, Girls, so, you know, maybe Koch wasn’t all bad.
After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 1985)
White collar square Griffin Dunne tumbles down and is at every turn aggressively rejected by a SoHo rabbit hole of intimidating grimy bohemia punctuated by supporting turns from Animal House’s Verna Bloom, Big baxter John Heard and One Sensational Actor Teri Garr. Although, don’t tell Luke, but I prefer Demme’s Something Wild(!)
Into the Night (John Landis, 1985)
Insomniac cuckold Jeff Goldblum deserts Reagan ennui and surrenders to the chase across a coke-addled Lost Angeles of dying tycoons, Hollyweird hangers on, international espionage and Michelle Pfeiffer’s femme fatale, soundtracked by B.B. King and festooned with a cameo-count that came to characterise peak Landis.
The still-undiscovered cult classic of the 1980s, and the crucible of my taciturn yet rampant adulation when I met the man. His response, a deadpan: “My God, what a horrific childhood!”
Adventures in Babysitting (Chris Columbus, 1987)
After a three-film Amblin apprenticeship of pure gold but before totally betraying us for three fucking decades, Chris Columbus opens his directorial account with all the fun of ‘80s Elisabeth Shue running rings around John Hughes-era Chicago and delivering an inherently deserved comeuppance to a pre-West Wing perma-weasel Bradley Whitford.
Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993)
Dick Linklater defines his own genre, then covers Ben Affleck in paint (good job!)
Judgment Night (Stephen Hopkins, 1993)
Serviceable city-vs-suburbanites thriller with a wonderfully dated cast and a well-known, half-decent rap-rock soundtrack that nevertheless served as patient zero for nu-metal. As such it’s something of a ’90s cultural Bomber Command, perceived at the time as an endeavour of bravery and nobility but, in retrospect, definitely a war crime.
Trojan War (George Huang, 1997)
Eric from Boy Meets World has one night to fuck Marley Shelton but not without a condom. Best friend and perfect match Jennifer Love Hewitt waits patiently in the wings.
With Swimming With Sharks in 1996, debutant writer-director George Huang sired an excoriating insider’s satire of the studio system that cost no money, received much acclaim and doubled as career suicide.
A year later, the veritable interment of Trojan War can be viewed as his reward – a mid-budget unheralded teen B-movie with TV leads which I recently discovered placed 303 out of 303 at the 1997 box office, its barely comprehensible take of $309 attributable to the standard “one screen for one week” payback screwjob, this time likely delivered by Scott Rudin. Huang hasn’t managed a feature since, although years ago I did track down and record his 2001 TV movie How To Make A Monster.
My heart tells me Trojan War is a charming ’90s caper comedy, the Can’t Hardly Wait for when you’re told Can’t Hardly Wait is already out on rental; my head is certain that regardless of the film’s true worth, George Huang deserved a lot better.
Can’t Hardly Wait (Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, 1998)
For anyone paying attention to youth-oriented television and film at the turn of the century, Can’t Hardly Wait is the fucking Robert Altman’s Nashville of the ‘90s. A blow-out distillation of the party movie, a celebration of the resurrection of the teen movie, a veritable drinking game of bit part-spotting and uncredited cameos. But, notwithstanding its accomplish, still something of a missed opportunity, limited, as it was, by its studio’s pursuit of a PG-13. Apatow could have re-released this uncut on its tenth anniversary and made a hundred million. An apotheosis.
Further reading: O.S.S’s Editor Beyond Belief Fletcher Walton reminisces on his adolescent Fridays spent with One Crazy Night movies.
Further listening: We discuss these One Crazy Night movies and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours on this podcast.