Skip

A film... in reverse... in reverse
March 14, 2011 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Top Secret! is a 1984 film from the makers of Airplane!, parodying WWII spy movies and Elvis movies amongst other subjects. One of its more famous scenes took place in a Swedish bookstore (proprietor played by Peter "Grand Moff Tarkin" Cushing). The eerie nature of the scene comes from having been created to be watched backwards. Here is that scene, now reversed, as in played forward, and acted backward.
posted by hippybear (150 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite

 
Top Secret and Real Genius really were the pinnacle of Val Kilmer's career, weren't they? And that's nothing to be ashamed about. Not many people get to ever star in two classic films.
posted by kmz at 12:54 PM on March 14, 2011 [25 favorites]


Sallb gnippirt ma I, orb ho.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 12:54 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't you mean Sllab?
posted by echo target at 12:56 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Give him a break, he's tripping.
posted by emelenjr at 12:57 PM on March 14, 2011 [29 favorites]


Tihs
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 12:59 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh God, Top Secret. I remember watching it in the small hours of the morning one night back in high school with my (turned out to be gay) boyfriend. It was the source of hundreds of in jokes for as along as we were together and beyond.

"My name is Hilary. It means, 'One whose bosoms defy gravity.'"
posted by orange swan at 12:59 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I dunno... Kilmer was Iceman in Top Gun.... and Jim Morrison in Stone's The Doors... and his role in Thunderheart was pretty great... and who can forget his turn as Doc Holliday in Tombstone?

But then he replaced Keaton as Batman in Batman Forever, and everything started to fall apart. That abortive attempt to make The Saint into a franchise was just the first of a whole string of non-memorable roles for him.

And these days, he looks like he's starting to turn into the Face Of Boe.

But for a brief shining time, he was glorious, and I loved his work so very very much.
posted by hippybear at 1:01 PM on March 14, 2011 [19 favorites]


Very Twin Peaks.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 1:01 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


So much better than Airplane!
posted by fullerine at 1:03 PM on March 14, 2011


This is not Mel Torme!
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:04 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Top Secret! - 1984

Twin Peaks - 1990
posted by hippybear at 1:04 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


The first time I saw this scene I almost peed my pants.
posted by bondcliff at 1:04 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Literally my favorite scene in the movie. Thank You!
Number two: Introductions...
"...and Deja Vu.".
"Haven't we met before?".

Quality Stupid Fun!
posted by djrock3k at 1:04 PM on March 14, 2011


Top Secret and Real Genius really were the pinnacle of Val Kilmer's career,

Real Genius is one of the single greatest things ever. If for no other reason than it gave us "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates who said 'I drank what?'".

For later career goodness, check out Spartan. It's close to a perfect action movie for adults. (also Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which is worth it because 1.) it's great and 2.) the commentary is fantastic.)
posted by quin at 1:04 PM on March 14, 2011 [21 favorites]


But then he replaced Keaton as Batman in Batman Forever, and everything started to fall apart. That abortive attempt to make The Saint into a franchise was just the first of a whole string of non-memorable roles for him.

He's still in good things from time to time -- Mamet's Spartan and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang come to mind.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:05 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh dear, hippybear, that link reflects an aging as tragic as Marlon Brando's.
posted by orange swan at 1:05 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dammit, quin!
posted by Amanojaku at 1:05 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


And these days, he looks like he's starting to turn into the Face Of Boe.

Good lord. He's moving in on Robert Z'Dar territory.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:06 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Skeet surfing wound up on at least one mix tape for my earth-kissing-whale-hugging-tree-loving-krispie-crunchy-granola-y highschool girlfriend. I then found out she was pro-gun controll too... whodda thunk.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:06 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Peter "Grand Moff Tarkin" Cushing? Maybe it's a generational thing, but that should read Peter "Sherlock Holmes" Cushing. Or Peter "Baron Frankenstein" Cushing. Or Peter "Van Helsing" Cushing.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:08 PM on March 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


Or just Peter Cushing.
posted by dng at 1:08 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'll miss you most of all, Scarecrow!
posted by steef at 1:10 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Top Secret is one of the most brilliant comedies.

I will forever think of this scene every time I have a dream where I'm back in high school. Which is, uh, once a week....
posted by meadowlark lime at 1:10 PM on March 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


> And these days, he looks like he's starting to turn into the Face Of Boe.

Man, I didn't know he'd developed some authentic jowls there. Neat post!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:11 PM on March 14, 2011


Top Secret is a parody of the spy-thriller genre as a whole, but I think Hitchcock's Torn Curtain was responsible for more of its plot elements than any other single film. Any huge fans fo TS should netflix Torn Curtain pronto.
posted by rusty at 1:13 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]




Is this the potato farm?
posted by electroboy at 1:17 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh dear god, Trielli. How can I possibly have never seen that before. A zillion favorites for that link!
posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2011


The giant telephone kills me every time.
posted by device55 at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Although I like several other Val kilmer movies, I sort of agree with kmz. I remember after the one-two punch of Top Secret and Real Genius Val was suddenly one of my favorite new actors. It was weird seeing him in Top Gun, and then after a few more movies I realized that those first two films were the exception, not the rule.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:20 PM on March 14, 2011


All the links in this post are showing up for me in another language, which I can't translate.

Does anyone know a little German?
posted by avoision at 1:25 PM on March 14, 2011 [18 favorites]


Another vote for Spartan here. I'll also throw down for Heat.
posted by dobbs at 1:26 PM on March 14, 2011


He did manage to out-crazy Marlon Brando in 1996's "The Island of Dr. Moreau," which is no small achievement.

And he was in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call new Orleans" just a few years ago, playing it sleazy with great effectiveness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:26 PM on March 14, 2011


True story: Until I did some reading up regarding this post, my lizard brain had somehow got the impression that Peter Cushing died in 1978, which was why his character didn't appear in the rest of the original Star Wars trilogy.

As it turns out, Cushing died in 1994. He was not, as I somehow assumed, personally caught in the Death Star blast. Subtle distinctions! The more you know.
posted by bicyclefish at 1:27 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, 4 classics in my estimation:

Top Secret!
Real Genius
Spartan
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang


I'm also rather fond of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, but he's barely in it.
posted by brundlefly at 1:28 PM on March 14, 2011


And these days, he looks like he's starting to turn into the Face Of Boe.

When I first looked at that link, I thought I was staring at Steven Segal...
posted by bruzie at 1:29 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Spartan, which I totally missed when it came out, has become one of my favorite movies. Kilmer is really great in it. It has it's flaws, but it's pretty good.
posted by OmieWise at 1:32 PM on March 14, 2011


Wait, Spartan was a Mamet movie? *Goes to Netflix queue*
posted by KingEdRa at 1:34 PM on March 14, 2011


And these days, he looks like he's starting to turn into the Face Of Boe.

Things change... people change... hairstyles change
posted by molecicco at 1:36 PM on March 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


One of my favorite exchanges from Spartan:

"In the city it's always a reflection. In the woods, always a sound."
"What about the desert?"
"You don't want to go in the desert."
posted by brundlefly at 1:38 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, Kilmer was great in Salton Sea, too. (Truth be told, I'm actually a big fan of Kilmer's choices post-Saint/Moreau/Batman. It's like he knows his "MOVIE STAR" days are behind him, so he chooses interesting roles instead of "big" roles). He's a better actor for it, and it's refreshing to see an actor accept and have fun with the fact that he's getting older and can't stay young, handsome and thin for the rest of his life.
posted by KingEdRa at 1:40 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


For the curious, the joke behind this scene is that when filmmakers hear recorded dialog played backwards in the editing room, it is referred to as "talking Swedish."
posted by Navelgazer at 1:40 PM on March 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


...interests rates fluctuate...
posted by Iridic at 1:41 PM on March 14, 2011


Kilmer was excellent in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang!

So the 90s weren't too kind to him, it could happen to anyone...
posted by xqwzts at 1:42 PM on March 14, 2011


an aging as tragic as Marlon Brando's.

Everyone knows that the dybbuk that had possessed Brando since 1976's The Missouri Breaks leaped over to Val Kilmer's body on the set of The Island of Dr Moreau. It's the worst-kept secret in Hollywood.
posted by Iridic at 1:43 PM on March 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


As it turns out, Cushing died in 1994.

OK. Please let us know if there is any change in his condition.
posted by molecicco at 1:44 PM on March 14, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm just dropping by to say Willow is the greatest piece of art in the history of existence.
posted by Dmenet at 1:44 PM on March 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


[FIND HIM AND KILL HIM]
posted by interrobang at 1:48 PM on March 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Zouviniers, novelties, paarty tricks...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:48 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Great post. And, Heat
posted by mumimor at 1:51 PM on March 14, 2011


Great post. And how.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:53 PM on March 14, 2011


For a comparison between the Top Secret! technique and the Twin Peaks technique, here is Cooper's Dream forward and backward (which is really backward and forward).

Plus a bonus lesson in how to speak while in the Red Room.
posted by hippybear at 1:53 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only one that loves Spartan. A lot of people seemed to hate that movie, and Kilmer in it, mainly because he plays the main character with a really unusual... flatness.

My read on it was always that Scott has absolutely no idea what "normal" people are like. He's been socialized by the army and kept apart from "real" people for so much of his life that he can only adapt and reflect the people he comes into contact with; the movie's as much about Scott "learning human" as it is about the surface plot.
posted by Shepherd at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2011


I’ve always liked you, Clarence. Always have, always will.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, thank you, Trielli: 'I once had a saturday job in Stain's farm shop and would often sell the great man his veg. As I remember he was very fond of parsnips, courgettes and onions. I once sold him a pumpkin, and it wasn't even halloween.'
posted by steef at 1:57 PM on March 14, 2011


I have to agree: it should be Peter "Grand Moff Tarkin" Cushing. And I am a certified geezer.
posted by umberto at 2:00 PM on March 14, 2011


The first time i saw the played-forward/acted-backward version of this scene, it was video art - worth checking out, as its palindrome-looped
posted by gup at 2:11 PM on March 14, 2011


Best exchange in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang":

Perry (Kilmer): My $2000 ceramic Vektor my mother got me as a special gift. You threw in the lake next to the car. What happens when they drag the lake? You think they'll find my pistol. Jesus. Look up "idiot" in the dictionary. You know what you'll find?
Harry (Downey): A picture of me?
Perry (Kilmer): No! The definition of the word idiot, which you fucking are!

posted by ColdChef at 2:12 PM on March 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: "Zouviniers, novelties, paarty tricks..."

Here. You dropped your fake dog poo.
posted by Bonzai at 2:13 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Spartan is good, and he's obviously supposed to be completely wooden. He's a total operator, cool as ice.

Tombstone is the highlight, of course, but KKBB is a very close second.

Bad Lieutenant is execrable.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:15 PM on March 14, 2011


If you try to watch the Top Secret! region-coded PAL DVD on a North American NTSC player, it may take surgeons 2 hours just to get the smile off your face.
posted by benzenedream at 2:17 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


So much better than Airplane!

Maybe. The thing I loved most about TOP SECRET was how it began as a cold war yarn and slowly evolved (devolved?) into a World War 2 behind-the-enemy-lines-working-with-the-French-Underground yarn ... without it ever being clear as to when exactly the change occurred. And then there's the scene where the tank rear ends the Ford Pinto which, of course, explodes and destroys the tank.

Still about as close as I've ever seen Americans get to the fluid, inspired anarchy of Monty Python.

As for Mr. Kilmer's acting chops, sorry to break it to you folks but he peaked in THE DOORS, no doubt driven by Oliver Stone's heavy hand. Better than Jim Morrison.
posted by philip-random at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I...I haven't....I haven't seen this film.
posted by tumid dahlia at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2011


That little cameo as the spirit of Elvis in True Romance.
posted by ovvl at 2:19 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here. You dropped your fake dog poo.

Vat fake dog poo?
posted by entropicamericana at 2:21 PM on March 14, 2011


mainly because he plays the main character with a really unusual... flatness.

I suspect that this was Mamet being extra clever; the whole movie is, well, it's spartan. Short terse sentences, economy of movement, a sort of laconic wit pervading though the dialog, nothing explained if it doesn't need to be. I'm betting that he went to Kilmer with that idea, and the flat way Kilmer chose to play it is the result.

I've always felt that Mamet made the movie in such a way that you felt a part of it because of the narrative conventions he was using.
posted by quin at 2:24 PM on March 14, 2011


> Bad Lieutenant is execrable.

Execrablicious.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:24 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


And these days, he looks like he's starting to turn into the Face Of Boe.

When I first looked at that link, I thought I was staring at Steven Segal...


God help me, I thought it was Travolta!
posted by Redhush at 2:25 PM on March 14, 2011


I remember going over to a friend's house and watching "Top Secret," because it was awesome. At some point during the movie, my friend's little sister — I'm not sure how old she was ... 6 or 7, I think — joined us.

Their mom looked in on us in the middle of the ballerina scene.

"... What are you girls watching?"

Uh, just a comedy, Mrs. Johnson.

Thankfully they both left well before the cow scene.
posted by rewil at 2:25 PM on March 14, 2011


I think we can agree that Val Kilmer has been in a lot of great fucking movies.
posted by fullerine at 2:26 PM on March 14, 2011


mainly because he plays the main character with a really unusual... flatness.

I haven't actually seen Spartan (I will now) but that flat acting is sort of a Mamet thing. Watch The Spanish Prisoner or House of Games for some really stilted acting. I assume that he does it on purpose since not all of his movies are like that.
posted by octothorpe at 2:30 PM on March 14, 2011


I foresee a Ronin/Spartan double feature in my near future.
posted by Iridic at 2:31 PM on March 14, 2011


ColdChef: "Best exchange in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang":

Perry (Kilmer): My $2000 ceramic Vektor my mother got me as a special gift. You threw in the lake next to the car. What happens when they drag the lake? You think they'll find my pistol. Jesus. Look up "idiot" in the dictionary. You know what you'll find?
Harry (Downey): A picture of me?
Perry (Kilmer): No! The definition of the word idiot, which you fucking are!
"

I rather like this one: (spoiler alert). That movie was gold. I am gonna check out Spartan sometime soon, because this thread is awesome.

posted by yaymukund at 2:33 PM on March 14, 2011


*cough*

Oh, he caught a cold last week and I'm just a little horse.
posted by Bonzai at 2:33 PM on March 14, 2011


I know a little German...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:37 PM on March 14, 2011


My old man would simply roar at the line "It's just something my dad thought of while shaving."
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:43 PM on March 14, 2011


They taught me all about you imperialist swine! I was exposed to the works of the great thinkers: Karl Marx, Lenin, L. Ron Hubbard, Freddie Laker...
posted by Iridic at 2:44 PM on March 14, 2011


hippybear, I love you forever for the "How to speak in the Red Room" link. That was one of my ultimate lazyweb non-searches forever.
posted by nevercalm at 2:45 PM on March 14, 2011


The Pharcyde recently did something similar with their Drop video, directed by Spike Jonze
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:46 PM on March 14, 2011


Don't forget Wonderland where Kilmer played John Holmes.
posted by CCBC at 2:47 PM on March 14, 2011


As for Val Kilmer's decline, at least it gave rise to John Frankenheimer's wonderful quote, that "I wouldn't work with Val Kilmer if I were shooting the Val Kilmer Story starring Val Kilmer."
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:48 PM on March 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I want a schnauzer with my wienerschnitzel.
posted by Decani at 2:51 PM on March 14, 2011


Your hog balls, sir.
posted by dragstroke at 2:56 PM on March 14, 2011


"I'm afraid you leave me no alternative but to introduce you to two of my associates. Bruno is almost blind, has to operate wholly by touch. Klaus is a moron who knows only what he reads in the New York Post."

...

A lot of the German in the movie is actually Yiddish. I watched the movie with my dad once and he was laughing hysterically at what seemed like random moments...
posted by PlusDistance at 2:56 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kilmer is great, but he's a legendarily difficult person to work with, which has more to do with his downfall than a few bad movie choices.

I love Tombstone because of him. And here's the best exchange in Spartan:

Scott [Kilmer]: What they gotcha teachin' here, young sergeant?
Jackie Black: Edged weapons, sir. Knife fighting.
Scott: Don't you teach 'em knife fighting. Teach 'em to kill. That way, they meet some sonofabitch who studied knife fighting, they send his soul to hell.


Favorite line in Top Secret:

Wow. They'd have enough salt to last forever.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:59 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This, for example, is under "H" for "toy."
posted by gcbv at 3:03 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Val Kilmer may be losing weight in reverse, but I could still pretend he was Jim Morrison if necessary.
posted by theredpen at 3:04 PM on March 14, 2011


or-yay, oing-gay, oo-tay, et-gay, ied-fray in the air-chay

... it took them two hours, just to get the smile off his face.
posted by molecicco at 3:05 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


ps.

Good lord. He's moving in on Robert Z'Dar territory.

That was the guy's real face in Soultaker?! I shouldn't watch MST3K high.
posted by theredpen at 3:06 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


The underwater barfight scene near the end is among the greatest things I have ever seen on film.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know a little German?

Yes. He's sitting over there.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:19 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't forget Wonderland where Kilmer played John Holmes.

Damn good job, even though the movie is depressing as hell to me for personal reasons, not rated high enough in my opinion.

He's moving in on Robert Z'Dar territory.

Thats... his... real... face...??? O_o
I'm shocked into caveman speak.
posted by usagizero at 3:20 PM on March 14, 2011


Underwater saloon fight from Top Secret.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:22 PM on March 14, 2011


Skeet Surfing is one of the funniest movie scenes of all time.
posted by Sculthorpe at 3:28 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


No discussion of Val Kilmer is complete without this interview in Esquire a few years ago. Quick summary: he knows you better than you know yourself.
posted by roquetuen at 3:40 PM on March 14, 2011


I rented this with my kids because I remember it fondly and it has a PG rating. I had forgotten all about the scene where the guy in prison lovingly caresses his ass-fisting machine. PG!
posted by stargell at 3:41 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Peter "Grand Moff Tarkin" Cushing? Maybe it's a generational thing, but that should read Peter "Sherlock Holmes" Cushing. Or Peter "Baron Frankenstein" Cushing. Or Peter "Van Helsing" Cushing.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:08 PM on March 14 [7 favorites +] [!]


Given his long and prestigious career (he was even a Dr. Who for crissakes), I believe he deserves to be referred to as Peter "Fucking" Cushing.
posted by snottydick at 3:50 PM on March 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


quin:Real Genius is one of the single greatest things ever.

I wasn't too keen on Real Genius until this scene. Easily the best "oh shit" moment committed to film.
posted by dr_dank at 3:55 PM on March 14, 2011


Yeah, that's it. The Anal Intruder. PG!
posted by stargell at 3:55 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Top Secret is completely and bizarrely new to me: so thank you - but I recognised the backwards scene by this Tenants Lager advert from about the same era - clearly it owes a lot to it. Also this one - and this Hale and Pace spoof.
posted by rongorongo at 4:02 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sunday? That's Simchas Torah!
posted by gwint at 4:03 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh my...Val Kilmer should be in every movie. My sister and I watched Top Secret and Real Genius so many times...and I am glad to see the love for Spartan and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, both of which are freakin' brilliant.

(one of) My favorite line(s) from Top Secret: (on the phone) "I see...well, let me know if there's any change in his condition" (hangs up) "He's dead".
posted by biscotti at 4:10 PM on March 14, 2011


I foresee a Ronin/Spartan double feature in my near future.

I proposed this very thing to my friends this week. Both are great, and if Spartan is a bit more ridiculous then it is also more quotable:

"You wanted to go through the looking glass. How was it? Was it more fun than miniature golf?"
posted by Rangeboy at 4:23 PM on March 14, 2011


Also, in Spartan Val Kilmer proves to William Macy that sometimes you should bring a knife to a gunfight.
posted by Rangeboy at 4:23 PM on March 14, 2011


If you haven't seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, you have missed one of the most hilarious, smart, overlooked films of the 2000s. (Doesn't help that it was released the same month as The Constant Gardener and Brokeback Mountain and Walk the Line and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Batman Begins. It didn't get a lot of press.

I also highly recommend the commentary, with Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr., and writer/director Shane Black.

Also, the gag reel.
posted by tzikeh at 4:31 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seeing as how there seems to be a lot of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang love here, I should mention that Shane Black will be writing and directing Iron Man 3.
posted by brundlefly at 4:40 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like Top Secret but I've always found Val Kilmer annoying as hell.
posted by jonmc at 4:45 PM on March 14, 2011


It drives my wife absolutely nuts because she doesn't understand the reference, but I often say, "And I am....Chocolate Mousse!" for no apparent reason. This, of course, is in addition to the countless other lines I've latched onto that she can't appreciate. Now that I think about it, what life must be like living with a man who randomly spouts off some of the most absurd shit, I can't imagine.
posted by Brackish at 4:47 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ummm, maybe you should show her the movies, genius?
posted by jonmc at 4:59 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


This thread needs more Willow
posted by JARED!!! at 5:02 PM on March 14, 2011


Yet more love for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang here. I have lent many DVDs of that film to friends, and they never get returned, and I don't care. Made at a time when both its stars--Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr--were regarded as pretty much footnotes of the actors they'd once been, it's a fantastic piece of entertainment, grown-up, clever and very funny, particularly considering it cost just $15m to make (and, from what I saw, $15 and a couple of subway tokens to publicise).

The IMDB trivia page for it is thoroughly entertaining.
posted by Hogshead at 5:07 PM on March 14, 2011


Yeah, that's it. The Anal Intruder . PG!

"I've tried everything ... it's no use, I just can't bring my wife to orgasm" is my vote for the funniest non-sequitur joke of all time. My friends and I in high school would often quote that line in conversation pretty much anywhere it would fit.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:10 PM on March 14, 2011


FatValKilmer.com. That is all.
posted by wanderingstan at 5:24 PM on March 14, 2011


This thread needs more Willows and Huckleberries.
posted by Jezebella at 5:35 PM on March 14, 2011


Ah, the anal intruder scene. I'd never seen the movie before and as a fan of Airplane! I proposed to my seventh grade science teacher that I rent it and bring it in on a slow day late in the school year, who foolishly believed me when I said "It's PG... nah, I'm sure it would be okay to watch." Fortunately she was sitting at her desk industriously correcting papers the whole time, completely oblivious to the raunchy debauchery and all of the furtive glances we seventh-graders kept sending her way.
posted by XMLicious at 5:43 PM on March 14, 2011


I foresee a Ronin/Spartan double feature in my near future.

If you want to get a double dose of Mamet, pair Spartan with Red Belt, which I heard about here, and loved almost as much as Spartan.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 5:43 PM on March 14, 2011


There is sauerkraut in my lederhosen.
posted by orange swan at 5:54 PM on March 14, 2011


Lay off fat Val Kilmer; he was the voice of God in The Prince of Egypt, and he will smite you.
posted by bwg at 6:01 PM on March 14, 2011


I haven't seen this movie since it came out, and this thread made me decide to change that.

For anyone who cares, Netflix tells me that it's only available for instant streaming until Wednesday of this week.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:01 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


When I was young and (a little more) clueless, I was very confused by both what war Top Secret was supposed to be about, but also what war Ted Striker was in (in Airplane!/Flying High) that meant in the same lifetime he could also be flying a spaceship. It never occurred to me at the time that, as it was a comedy, it didn't have to make sense.

It must be decade or more since I last saw Top Secret!, but I'm pretty sure I could recite the entire movie verbatim. I wonder if mrs damonism has seen it. I must now procure a copy if she hasn't (and possibly also if she has).
posted by damonism at 6:15 PM on March 14, 2011


The Salton Sea is a great movie. Easily one of his best.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:37 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


jonmc: Ummm, maybe you should show her the movies, genius?

Thank you, Captain Obvious. Sadly, my attempts have mostly failed. I've managed to beat her into submission with repeated showings of Spaceballs, and she likes Robin Hood: Men In Tights because of Cary Elwes' role in The Princess Bride, but the older stuff? Too silly, says she. Monty Python is right out.
posted by Brackish at 6:43 PM on March 14, 2011


Latrine!
posted by kirkaracha at 6:50 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Used to be Shithouse!
posted by Brackish at 6:51 PM on March 14, 2011


Nick Rivers: Look, I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a girl he met in a restaurant who then turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist only to lose her to her childhood lover who she'd last seen on a deserted island and who turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.

Hillary Flammond: I know. It all sounds like some bad movie.

posted by kirkaracha at 7:01 PM on March 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


All this Peter "whatever" Cushing talk brings this image to mind...

PETER CUSHING
Killed Dracula with a pair of candlestick holders
Blew up Alderan
Fought Daleks
Has been at the Earth's Core
Killed more vampires than Buffy
Outsmarted Moriarity
Verbally bitch slapped Darth Vader
I beg your pardon, but do you really think Chuck Norris can top that?

posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 7:48 PM on March 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


List of Kilmer's best? Add Tombstone.
posted by storybored at 8:22 PM on March 14, 2011


He was good in Heat. I remember reading an article about him somewhere at some point after Heat came out, and apparently he went really whack-a-doodle for the weapons training that all the principal actors went through for the film, to the point where he was doing it as good as the pros. There's a bit in the infamous street shootout where Kilmer's character ducks down for a magazine change of his M-16 or whatever it is and apparently he executed it so flawlessly that a room full of (Rangers? Marines? Coat Guard? Texans?) that the weapons coordinator was watching a screening of it with cheered.

Maybe it was on the DVD commentary, I dunno. (Turns out the weapons trainer was Andy McNab of Bravo Two Zero fame)

Interesting little excerpt from a review of Heat:

"Heat’s most exciting action sequence is the now famous bank heist scene. Right from the beginning, Mann establishes a quick pace as Neil enters the bank with pulsating electronic music that anticipates what is going to happen. With incredible precision and timing, McCauley and his crew have taken out the guards, have control of the bank and are taking out large quantities of money in under a minute. The music is underplayed but still effective in creating tension during the sequence. Once McCauley and his crew emerge from the bank and Chris fires the first shot, the music stops and the rest of this exciting sequence plays out with no music — only the deafening roar of the guns firing as McCauley and his men try to escape and turn the streets of Los Angeles into a war zone. Mann made sure that the gunshots sounded realistic and went to great pains to make sure he got the right sounds for the machine guns. He said, “There’s a certain pattern to the reverberation. It makes you think you’ve never heard that in a film before so it feels very real and authentic. Then you really believe the jeopardy these people are in.”

Mann alternates between shaky, hand-held cameras and fluid tracking shots with kinetic editing that brilliantly conveys the exciting action that is taking place. One of the reasons why this sequence works so well and comes across as being so authentic is due in large part to one of the technical advisors for the film: Andy McNab, a Special Forces soldier who infiltrated enemy lines in the Persian Gulf War to sabotage SCUD missiles. De Niro gave Mann his copy of Bravo Two Zero, written by McNab. It so impressed the filmmaker that he hired him to train the cast how to shoot guns for two months. McNab worked from a tape of L.A. Takedown, Mann’s T.V. movie rough draft of Heat, to get an idea of what Mann wanted. The actors rehearsed carrying around the weight of the money they would be stealing in the bank heist. De Niro had to practice how he would carry Kilmer once he was shot and how to fire his weapon with one hand.

Before filming the bank heist sequence, Mann and McNab conducted a dry run with the actors on a real bank. De Niro, Tom Sizemore and Kilmer all wore disguises and body armor. Only the bank manager knew what was really going on. A couple of guys covertly videotaped everything from cameras in bags. The sequence was to be shot at the Far East Bank in Los Angeles. Location manager Janice Polley and the producers spent months beforehand meeting with officials of the bank explaining what was involved. Mann and his crew took over the entire financial district of the city every weekend for five weeks. They were allowed to shoot between 6 pm on Friday and 5 am Monday morning. The production shut down 5th street in L.A. and notified hotels and residents within earshot. The bank heist sequence was so authentic that in 1998, two men foolishly tried to copy what was done in the film. They robbed a bank in L.A. and as McNab remembered, they even “delayed the robbery for three days so they could get exactly the same bags as Kilmer had, and they used machine guns, body armor—everything.”"
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:37 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Spinning Plates
posted by tiburon at 9:56 PM on March 14, 2011


That shot of Val Kilmer's swollen face makes me think of the line "America's fastest-rotting actor, Danny Huston" from a review of The Constant Gardener. Wow, and I thought Ray Liotta aged fast and badly. I hope Val's healthy, I think he's a decent actor.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:40 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just dropping by to say Willow is the greatest piece of art in the history of existence.

You wouldn't think that if you were aware of all of the Willow-Related Deaths
posted by Deathalicious at 11:32 PM on March 14, 2011


Aw, he's a Christian Scientist?

I think I saw this when I was about 11; I can almost remember verbatim the Macys jingle he croons:

...Do the tears on your pillow, roll down as you turn
Do they short out the blankets, and make the sheets burn?
Does your heart fill with pain?
Will you come back again?
Shop at Macys and love me tonight...
posted by tracicle at 11:46 PM on March 14, 2011


I can almost remember verbatim the Macys jingle he croons

the Macys jingle
posted by hippybear at 11:56 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can almost remember verbatim the Macys jingle he croons

It's the catchiest tune I know of for celebrating the warmth and kindness of the people working in pre-teen marternity during the semi-annual Lincoln's Birthday sale.

God I love this movie
posted by molecicco at 2:37 AM on March 15, 2011


The gag with the wristwatch is what I remember first and best about Top Secret! I was literally rolling on the floor, laughing.
posted by zardoz at 5:30 AM on March 15, 2011


Now that I think about it, what life must be like living with a man who randomly spouts off some of the most absurd shit, I can't imagine.

Me: "What if polar bears had cell phones? Would they share information about good fishing and walruses or would they keep it to themselves?"

My Wife: "I'm not even going to answer that."

Me: "Would they tweet, 'Hey guys, there's a delicious walrus on the North shore' or would they be all like, 'I just ate a delicious walrus LOL'"

My Wife: "Write that down. Just-- get writing."


Re: Top Secret: I love the absurdity of the scene where the guard falls off the building and shatters like porcelain.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 5:59 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Slightly related question :

Can anyone name a Czechoslovakian animation/live action film from the mid 1970's where a room rapidly fills with people who are each doing their own action repeatedly on a loop : eg one person walks in through a door, puts a lighter on a table and climbs out through the window. Then he does the same thing again, only to be joined by a woman who enters from another door, takes the lighter off the table and sit down in a chair. The first two repeat their actions and are joined by a third person who, etc,

Anyone ?
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 6:27 AM on March 15, 2011


Ah yes, when Val had a career and was hot.
posted by stormpooper at 6:31 AM on March 15, 2011


I have seen and loved more films than anyone else I know, but Top Secret is one of my life-time favourites. One of the few movies I can bear to watch again and again.
No other movie has so many gags - let alone FUNNY gags.

"Is this the potato farm?" "Yes, I am Albert Potato"

And then there are the great, unexpected performances (Omar Sharif, anyone?) and scenes of pure genius like the Swedish Bookstore.

Thank you hippybear for posting what I've been meaning to do for years (reverse the scene) It was better than I imagined ... "Europe on 4 qualudes a day" LOL.

LATRINE!
posted by 00dimitri00 at 7:11 AM on March 15, 2011


"I know a little German...and there he is!"

I still laugh every time I think of that one.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:04 AM on March 15, 2011


Man, I've got to watch this movie again.
posted by orange swan at 8:32 AM on March 15, 2011


> Aw, he's a Christian Scientist?

So?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:34 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I loved Top Secret when it first came out and I still love it to this day. I'm tempted now to watch it again but the anal intruder scene means I don't think I'd let my boy watch it just yet...

Kilmer has had a very up-and-down career but I've always appreciated his work. His performance as Doc Holliday was fantastic and he definitely puts a lot into his roles. He's one of those actors that can deliver a performance exactly like that which has been demanded. His apparently notorious behaviour on set aside, he really is a very talented actor. It's a shame that he hasn't done more comedy roles as his delivery really is excellent in both Top Secret and KKBB.

Totally off topic - Kilmer does do a decent mag change in Heat, yes. Whilst Andy McNab was the Primary Tech Advisor for Heat, Mann switched afterwards to Mick Gould who taught Cruise in Collateral and Farrell & Foxx in Miami Vice. Gould also did tech advisor on Taken which also has a decent bit of gat use & H2H fighting for those of us who appreciate it. Gould has a bit part in Heat as well if I remember right.

The Tech Advisor on Spartan was the same chap Mamet used for "The Unit" - Eric L Haney, a retired Delta operator and author of Inside Delta Force. It's a sad thing that I know who Technical Advisors are by name but dammit if certain ones don't bring an accurate performance out of the actors they train. Harry Humphries (an ex-SEAL) did good with Bruce Willis and co in Tears of the Sun.

What can I say? I appreciate good weapons handling in movies and those, along with Way of the Gun* have probably the best tactical use of firearms in any movies I could mention.

*hence my username and my "backup" username.

posted by longbaugh at 9:40 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]



devious truculent and unreliable
"Tango" by Zbigniew Rybczyński. It's on YouTube.

posted by 4eyes at 1:55 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh god Top Secret! I am now having a vivid memory of sitting in the cramped double bedroom of alan's dad's house watching it on a bad taped off the TV VHS on a tv onto of a broken TV and laughing our eight year od asses off.
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on March 15, 2011


> Aw, he's a Christian Scientist?

So?


That would be my brain conflating Christian Science with Scientology. Apologies for a moment of duh.
posted by tracicle at 7:29 PM on March 15, 2011


I watched Airplane! far too young to grasp the silliness. For years afterwards I wondered what it was about deep space that caused a man to turn to jelly, or a well-dressed young man to become a smoking donkey after being propositioned by a nymphomaniac. I looked back at the film with a mixture of fondness and confusion.

I watched it again last week (more that 25 years after the first time) and it all suddenly made no sense. I was actually more relieved than amused.
posted by vanar sena at 2:21 AM on March 16, 2011


Uh of course I mean Airplane! II, the one in the space shuttle.
posted by vanar sena at 2:24 AM on March 16, 2011


Cheers 4eyes. You're a good 'un.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 4:00 AM on March 16, 2011


Wow... and there I was thinking that loving "Top Secret" was one of those guilty things one didn't admit in public...
posted by TNLNYC at 9:04 PM on March 18, 2011


« Older London's Unfinished Ringways   |   AIDS Chic? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post