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Talk Radio (1988)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 2



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 6,565

My Rating

Movie Info

Monologist Eric Bogosian's one-man theater piece Talk Radio, co-written by Bogosian and Tad Savinar, is searingly brought to the screen by Oliver Stone. Bogosian plays provocateur radio talk-show host Barry Champlain, whose constant espousal of his inflammatory views and ceaseless hectoring of his callers and listeners reaps equal parts love and hate. As his program rolls on, Champlain is revealed to be just as screwed up as any of his fans, if not more. And then he pushes one caller just a bit

Oct 31, 2000

MCA Universal Home Video

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All Critics (27) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (5) | DVD (7)

Talk a nearly perfect example of how not to make a movie of a play.

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's midnight in America and there's a lot of angry people out there in the darkness. If that's the main point to Oliver Stone's Talk Radio, it's the only one.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Talk Radio has the loony intensity of those impassioned conspiracy theorists who look out at the world and see patterns of corruption spreading in all's another of Stone's wake-up calls to America.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Talk Radio is directed by Stone with a claustrophobic intensity.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

He asks an accepting audience, both in the film and in the theater: How much crap will you take, and why?

September 6, 2004 Full Review Source:

One of Stone's unqualified failures, by which I mean that even his usually muscular style can't partially redeem.

July 4, 2004

Holds up a disturbing image of a consumer culture where trash is viewed as treasure and excess spells success.

July 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Far more Eric Bogosian than Oliver Stone, and still timely, even after fifteen years.

October 3, 2002
Flipside Movie Emporium

Oliver Stone's overly dramatic new ending puts a damper on things, but Bogosian has never been more magnetic

September 27, 2002
New Times

Powerful. Eric Bogosian is a revelation.

September 18, 2002

Oliver Stone...turns [Eric Bogosian's] play into a visually achieved, intense and unforgettable movie.

September 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

If you've ever listened to late-night talkback and found some of the callers unsettling, you're bound to relive that feeling

January 1, 2000 Full Review

[Eric Bogosian] is what makes Talk Radio worth seeing, and he is what you'll be talking about afterward.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for Talk Radio

Barry: You're fascinated by the gory details! You're mesmerized by your own fear. You revel in floods, car accidents, unstoppable diseases, you're happiest when others are in pain.That's where I come in isn't it? I'm here to lead you by the hand through the dark forest of your own hatred and anger and humiliation! 

"The last neighborhood in America"

Talk Radio is one of my favorite Oliver Stone films, and is one that few actually know about. It's an underrated and under seen film of immense power. It has a simple, straightforward narrative, but the actual material is anything but simple. This is a movie that will stick with you; one that is unforgettable. I just watched this for the second time, and I'm still amazed by how Stone and Bogosian suck me in with the character of Barry Champlain. The film is at its most interesting when only the character of Champlain is talking, and luckily, that is most of the movie.

Talk Radio follows a talk radio host named Barry Champlain. Champlain's character is based on a real life host name Alan Berg, who was murdered after a show. Champlain has a night time show where rants his opinions to the people of Dallas, and most of them hate him for it. Yet they still listen and call in. Soon, Champlain's show is going to go national, so everyone in America can hear his opinions on drugs, racism, and anything else you can think about. Champlain is a character that you think would have a lot of strength. His voice and his opinions show strength. Yet, he starts to unravel with all of the hatred from callers. 

Most of the film takes place in the talk room. There's a few scenes outside of the room, but very few. We are left with Bogosian as Champlain and all of his callers. Bogosian more than exceeds standards. He is simply amazing as Champlain. He wrote the original play, and co-wrote this script with Stone. The two of them brought the play perfectly to screen with a lot of power and a lot of intellect. The ending will leave you haunted more than anything. I don't think there's any better word to describe this film with, then haunting.

I wouldn't know what genre to put this into. The closest one there is is drama, but even that doesn't fit it all that well. It has no real genre limitation. It's funny, it's sad, it's scary, it's honest. It's everything in one film and I love it for that. Talk Radio is a must see, and not just for film buffs, but for everyone. It's one of Oliver Stone's best achievements and pretty much no one has heard about it. Track this movie down and give it a look. 
June 25, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

When I was a kid I listened to talk radio (yes, I was THAT kid). The guy I listened to was He Who Goes Bump in the Night, Jim White on KMOX out of St. Louis. I think I stumbled on the guy after a Cardinals game. Jim White had been on the air in St. Louis for years and his shows were usually open format. Most callers were congenial, but every once in awhile a tirade would start either from a caller or from the host himself. There was the occasional Nazi or someone without a clue. These are the people that listen to the radio late a night. Check out Coast to Coast AM if you don't believe me.

With Talk Radio we get to take a look at Barry Champlain (Eric Bogosian), a nigh time talk radio host who is no holds barred and tells it like it is even though most of his listeners don't like it. Most callers hate him. When he goes out in public his ridiculed. But his shows popular as hell. So popular he's about to go national. But is that what he really wants? National hatred.

Barry's main argument to people is to turn off the damn show. That may be what you and I have in mind. But you have to remember the old story about a car accident. It's disgusting, it's horrible, but you sure as hell can't look away. You may hate what he says, but you just can't not stop listening to him because you have to know what he's going to say next.

Oliver Stone directs this film base on Bogosian's play and the film does have some of Stones flourishes, but it's really a claustrophobic piece. By the end of the film you're ready to get the hell out of that studio. You feel as stuffy and confined as the characters and during the times you do get out it's not for a breath of fresh air or freedom, it's more of how the disease from the radio has spread. Excellent performances throughout featuring Bogosians best work to date.

So many years late and Jim White's retired from the night time airwaves and the Cardinals aren't on KMOX anymore. I'm sure there's another guy at night buy he probably isn't as abrasive as White. Talk radio today is more user friendly with hosts chanting the mantras of the demographic they're designed for. Talk radio is a time capsule of those days when guys said what they though on the radio, not what was expected of them.
April 27, 2009

Super Reviewer

Fantastic script pulled off on the tiniest set. Oliver Stone before he got too overtly political. A great thriller, and a huge recommend.
December 24, 2008

Super Reviewer

    1. Barry Champlain: I don't want to hear anymore! Stop talking!
    – Submitted by Frances H (9 months ago)
    1. Barry Champlain: [to a caller about the most powerful drug ever sold] It's tobacco. It kills 350,000 people a year. You know how much coke, crack, heroin, pot kill every year? Four thousand people. Will you listen to sense? Hello? Let me check. Will you listen to logic, please? The only people who benefit from prohibition... are the gangsters makin' the money on it, the politicians condemning it and gettin' your vote. And who foots the bill? You, Rhonda Q Sucker!
    – Submitted by Helen E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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