Episode 22: WarGames (1983) - Opening Scene Breakdown
12:34PM Jan 19, 2023
Whoa, just curious. Welcome to Just curious media. This is let's talk movies. And I'm Jason Connell on the show. Today I'm joined by a special guest, Sal Rodriguez.
Thank you, Jason. I'm very happy to be here.
Always a pleasure to have you, sir. Always a pleasure. So today, so I brought you back on because this is the second time we've done this, and you're part of the last episode, Reservoir Dogs, but we are breaking down WarGames, 1983. The opening scene breakdown. We're stopping there, just the opening scene. And I'm super excited. But this is back to back episodes that I find out that you haven't even seen the movie.
No, no. And I think that's actually an interesting slant that you're allowing on the show is how much will that opening scene grab a person and want you to see more? Yep. And this opening scene of WarGames is intense. Big time it says I really think I breathe through the whole scene.
Yeah. Well, before we started recording you, you kind of made a connection or parallel with the TV show voice the voice? I've only seen it like once or
twice. Yeah, yeah, it's one of those things where the singer gets up on stage and all the judges have their backs to them. And then I guess if the judges liked them, then they will turn around. And I guess press the button or something like that. So it's one of those things where like, as a parallel to this, will this opening scene of this movie or any movie, make you want to turn your chair around and watch the movie? And I would say absolutely, I want to see this thing because if the rest of the movie is half as intense as this, I definitely want to see it and forgive me my whole entire life. For some reason. I don't know why I thought WarGames was a was a comedy. Because Matthew Broderick Ferris Bueller? I mean, I just thought it was.
He's one note. He's one note. As a comedian.
I'm lame. So I'm very excited about this.
That's all right. Well, it's 39 years old. So some spoilers are going to come out. So trust me because we do just break down the opening scene. But I'm gonna highlight give perspective and kind of talk about the story here and there. But we're only breaking this part down and we are going to do the kind of our usual homework like who made the movie behind the scenes stuff cast is that the other so the usual thing we do on most let's talk movies episodes. But as opposed to scene by scene breakdown of the entire movie, we really take our time and unpack this, which I enjoy because we can bring in some side stories is that the other fact you told me something before we got going, which you absolutely have to bring up here about the director, but in due time, say that's a great nugget. But alright, here we go. So the synopsis for WarGames 1983 is a young man finds a backdoor into a military central computer, in which reality is confused with game playing, possibly starting World War Three.
Jason one of the reasons why this is so intense is not only because of the movie itself, but where we are right now in space and time. I mean, so true. Holy cow. You know what I think some of this started when we you and I revisited rocky for Rocky for obviously the same day, the whole America, Russia Cold War thing. And now we have the activities in the Ukraine. And there's the tension now with the US and Russia again. So it's like this movie, and this opening scene is even more impactful today than it would have been five years ago. Absolutely. Or even maybe even more than it was even 39 initial is
every day where there was a lot of fear when this movie came out about the Cold War in Russia. And just that, you know, any minute we might be in tact. So that was real. I was a kid though, so maybe that's part of it. But I do agree when I watched this movie five years ago, I kind of periodically check in with this movie. And it's always held up, which I love. But more so recently, my watch this week was like, Oh my gosh, it's undeniably accurate in history, Sal, absolutely continues to repeat itself, which is an old cliche, but it's so true. I
hate that that cliche is so true. It absolutely is.
So here we go into the film, so directed by John Batum. And if you want to go ahead and throw in your story, which blew my mind a minute ago,
yeah, you know, I just found this out today because I used to go to this gym in Sherman Oaks on Ventura Boulevard called A Life Fitness. Shout out a Life Fitness and Jason, if you're listening, his name is Jason Cohen, the owner, another JSON. And so I will see this guy working out they're friendly guy, older gentleman. I'd see him in there. He'd work out with his trainer. I'd say hello to him. You know, a chit chat. Hey, how's the treadmill working for you basic stuff. And one day, I think I heard overheard people talking about movies. And then they started talking about this gentleman. And I was like, Who is that guy? They go, Oh, he's a movie director. I go, Oh, what does he directed? They go, Oh, he directed Saturday Night Fever. And I go, Oh, that's cool. I love Saturday Night Fever. And I left it at that. Well, today I find out he directed wargames. So I have met the director of war.
Gosh, and last week you had met the father of the director of the movie we'd covered which was Tony Tarantino, father of Quentin Tarantino, because we talked about Reservoir Dogs.
I am just being being here on role and all over the place. That's too
funny. Yes. So He did direct that I'm gonna hold his other credits till I get through this but written by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F parks. The genre for this movie. It's a lot. It's a mouthful Action, Drama sci fi and thriller so absolutely true. Sal. No comedy in there.
No, no, no, no, I don't know why I thought isn't Dabney Coleman in this too? He is. I think of Dabney Coleman I kind of think of comedy a little bit because he's, he can do comedy so well can be can do nine to five all that. So I just in my brain talk about Mandela Effect in my brain I had WarGames a sweet
little comedy and maybe a musical. Or musical. The ratings for this movie 7.1 on IMDb, solid IMDb again, tough grade 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, the tomato meter to be specific. There's two scores on Rotten Tomatoes. There's the tomato meter and audience ratings. But this is the tomato meter 93%. So very fresh, Sal. Yeah, that's very fresh. Indeed, the release date, June 3 1983. Now, I'd asked you this. But again, it's not applicable to you. But I first watched this in the theater. Bowman twin theater to be specific at 31st and Sheridan and Tulsa, Oklahoma with my cousin Sean. And it blew my mind. So both of our minds were sitting there and it was Bob and twin in particular had the biggest screen and Tulsa. It seemed like there was two screens there. Bowman twin, I think they're about the same size. But I'd seen many movies in there. But it's one of those films. It's almost like a drive. And it's just so big. And the sound was great. And this movie just spoke to us was the right age. And soon after that, I got a Commodore 64 And my fascination with computers just started to go into overdrive. I always wanted one of those modems. I know you haven't seen this movie, but it was the old like Hand Cradle. You put the phone in and you would dial Yeah. It's I just I always wanted to have my computer to do more. I got to watch the board games. Like I learned how to code and, and do things and make pirated games and do all this stuff. But it was like, what else can I do? Because I wanted to be Matthew Broderick, I wanted to tap into things. So
I gotta hand it to you though, because when I was first introduced to the computer, or the Apple Computer, I was in fifth grade, I went into the class, and they let us toy around on this computer. And I had fun. We play games and stuff, but I never thought it would apply to me. I did not know we would all have computers I did not know we'd walk around with computers in our hands. You know, I just thought oh, this is fun, but it doesn't apply to me. I'm gonna be a you know, a musical theater kid, you know? So I didn't even think it would apply to me. So I was a dumb kid.
Well, you caught up with this. I did. Okay, you overcame all that stuff. So the budget for this movie $12 million. Which to me it seems like a lot of money for 83 You know, but also feels like no money at all because
yeah, but back then yeah, that's pretty big. Pretty
good budget. US gross. $79.5 million in the US of course and Canada I should say North American gross,
but that's very successful box office. Yes. Very
successful. Yeah, I am surprised writing this down that as like they didn't have a sequel. It seems like they would a rush right in if Weintraub had been involved here Weintraub, they would have made WarGames to horror games three. But I'm surprised they didn't do it because this was a hit a bonafide hit. So
I think though, if Cobra Kai has taught us anything, is that it's never too late. They can be like like this today.
I was talking to a friend and a pretty prominent director many years ago, I don't know 10 years ago. And he was telling me that he was working on an outline or a script, for a reimagining of wargames. Not a remake, but like kind of in today's climate, not the political climate. But I mean, technology was right. You could really up the ante and do a lot of things. And this is already years ago now. And I was like, yeah, no one's dusted that thing off and done that because I'm not always in favor of a remake, but sometimes they get it right. You know, movies like the fly. You could call it a remake, but the way Cronenberg took it complements the original, it's hard to do, but when you do it, right, they're really successful.
Did the movie take place? In 83?
Yeah, they're never specific, but it's definitely in the early 80s.
Okay, I think one thing that requires a nice update is if the movie is set in the future, right, but that technology is not where it is now. Yeah, there you go. More knobs and less less digital and more knobs to flip.
Yeah, very analog. Now, the crew we just talked about, but I'll give you more of His credits. John Batum. Director Saturday Night Fever as you said, blue thunder love blues under Wow. American fliers another great movie short circuit. A huge shit Johnny alive. I'm alive. Johnny. That was a good movie.
They haven't made a good action figure for short circuit yet. I don't think so. The fans want it but They haven't made one yet.
He also did stakeout and another stakeout to be specific to more hits and then point of no return which is a really good movie with Bridget Fonda. It's like La Femme Nikita. Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. Very good. So solid solid director, very good director and they got the right guy to pull this movie off. Now more about the original director. I'll save that for our little bit of trivia. Now, the writers Lawrence Lasker also wrote Project X with Matthew Broderick and sneakers, one of my favorite movies, such a great film, and Oscar nominated for wargames. Wow. 1983 did a lot of producing and was an Oscar nominated producer for the movie awakenings in 1990. So great movie
and sneakers was is like an espionage movie, right?
Yeah, really smart. Same kind of thing. It's a caper. There's a thriller component, there's some comedy. It's a star studded cast are Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier. A very good film. And then Walter F parks is the other writer also wrote sneakers so they co wrote sneakers together. And then he did that TV show called The slap, which I never saw. But I'm sure means a lot now so definitely a very relevant thing now so maybe tell our audience for those who haven't heard about it. What is the slap now all about?
Well, the slap I think you're referring to Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars. Yes. Yeah.
But modern slap
I say also that Will Smith is in the wake of they actually have slapping competitions. Have you seen these? They got two people standing there. In format. It looks like they would arm wrestle but they don't arm wrestle. They slap I slap you as hard as I can you slap me around for a while. But no, it's it's getting bigger now.
It's getting bigger. Oh, yeah. The milk crate?
Yeah, exactly. So sloth, and they have like, I think Arnold Schwarzenegger was that one recently. I mean, they're getting bigger all these alternatives to combat sports that are kind of like combat sports, but they're not combat sports. Slapping is not combat but it's fighting. So yeah, it's getting bigger. And then now in the wake of that, then Will Smith of course, slaps Chris Rock. And now we have no shortage of memes all over the web. Now, that kind
of blew me away when I was watching it live thinking was that stage, but when they cut the audio, when I was gonna watch it, I thought, oh, no, that's a sign that this is real, because he started even no one's talking about this. This laugh was definitely out of line. He broke every rule. Someone should have stopped it from happening. But what made it even worse was the cursing from the seat. That like made anybody in earshot, like cringe even more like hold on. This is a real thing. It was kind of scary. And I'm glad they killed the audio. But of course, I've heard the audio since on different feeds. But yeah, it's getting a lot of hoopla and we'll see how it pans out with his career. And, you know, it's funny right afterwards, Chris Rock literally the next day, I believe, if not a day later, was in Boston for his first concert. I didn't go I didn't even know it was happening. But there was a lot of talk than he did. He wouldn't talk about it. He made a quick joke in the beginning, like how was your weekend? And then everyone laughed. And he moved right on. So
I got ahead until some hosting and presenting obviously not to that level. But the way that Chris Rock handled that unreal, I got to give it to him. I got to hand it to Chris Rock for maintaining his professionalism and composure after something like that, because I do not think I would have been able to
know. Yeah, it might have started crying. It's just overwhelming,
right? Like what's going on? Well, my instinct would have been like, I'm gonna break a chair over this guy like, yeah, I go WWE at that point.
Yeah, you do. You do so Alright, so back to Walter F parks. He was also Oscar nominated for WarGames, writing shared with Lawrence Lasker, and he too, produced awakenings. And was Oscar nominated for that. 1990. So they've worked together a lot. And they've both produced a ton of other things. I mean, I was blown away by parts his resume produced on a lot of Spielberg movies. So it's funny like this might have been a big stepping stone for them writing war games, the success of war games, and then all sudden you're like this wanted writer and then they kind of crossed over into producing so a launching point for them for sure. The cinematographer was William a cracker, and, unfortunately, rest in peace. We lost him in 2010 at 86 had a good run, made some great movies while he was here, Rosemary's Baby bullet to great movies right there, and Oscar nominated for looking for Mr. Goodbar 1977 Heaven can wait in 1978, which I recently covered on Let's Talk movies, a review of that great movie 1941, which was a Spielberg movie. Oh, John Belushi. Was it the most popular of Spielberg movies? No, it's less than 79. Now it's kind of a kind of tanked. Then WarGames 1983. And then lastly, Murphy's Romance in 1985, which I also love. So five time Oscar nominated, cinematographer kills it here. It looks amazing. So Rest in peace, great work. And then I wanted to give a quick shout out to the composer Arthur B. Rubinstein kills it. Unfortunately, another rest in peace has happens with movies that are almost 40 years old. So, sure, sure, we lost him in 2018 at the age of 80. And he composed blue thunder, another movie by Batum and lost in America, which I also loved. And he also did stakeout. So he's worked with Batum a few times to put this score is phenomenal. In fact, today when I was doing the notes, I just put the score on because I just loved it was so timely and, and fresh, and you should definitely put a link in the notes for you to check out as well. I'll check it out. And lastly, there was one more Oscar nomination for this movie, and that was for best sound. And yes, the sound is great. When you watch the movie, Sal, you will learn this but even that opening scene, this opening scene, you know, all the bells, the whistles, the computer making noises, the missile the warhead, you know, he not great, great sound, especially for 1983
Sure, you can appreciate how well people worked with the technology they had at the time.
Yeah, didn't matter. You know, it's the vision. So now the cast and we're really just going to focus on the opening scene cast. I'm going to quickly talk about who else is in the movie, but our main players and I included a third because he's an actor. We've seen a bunch he's the guard that when they first come in, he checks them in. Oh, yeah. He said know him. You recognize the face for sure. His name is Art Leffler. I know this is becoming very common Sal but rest in peace, died in 2021 at 78 He plays the guard. His name's Ginsberg. He's in movies like Field of Dreams and The Sandlot so classic baseball movies and many other and then we have John Spencer, rest in peace. 2005 died at the very young age of 58, which was shocking to me. Now, I knew John Spencer from so many things, but he plays Jerry Lawson. He was on La law. He was in the rock. He was on the West Wing fight for a long time. He was incredible, great actor. He recognized the older of the two gentlemen of the of our two main cast. And then Michael Madsen plays Steve Phelps. Now, I believe what I heard on the auto commentary was this was his first movie. And then he went on to do like Feldman, Luis, and of course, Reservoir Dogs, which is funny sounds so maybe this is a theme for let's talk movies, there has to be someone to hand it off to the next movie. So Michael Madsen came over from Reservoir Dogs and we brought him back. I forgot he was even in the Sal was like, Wait a second smads. And then of course, he was in Kill Bill, Volume One, Volume Two, The Hateful Eight. So a lot of Tarantino movies and so many others, and he's always fantastic.
Do we know if Michael Madsen is related to Virginia Madison? He
is indeed they are brother
and sister. Nice.
So who else is in the movie who we don't see in this opening scene? Well, Matthew Broderick as we just talked about the plays David Dabney Coleman plays McKittrick, and he's phenomenal as usual. Of course, I did a documentary on Dabney Coleman himself. Not such a bad guy conversations with Dabney Coleman. So I've gotten to know him I met him through the film festival became friends. Let me do a biography on him had him on the podcast at one point in time we interviewed him so he's amazing. And every time I see I'm like, Oh my gosh, like I was just a kid, idolizing him and all these roles so to know someone, it kind of blows my mind still, but he's still going strong was in Yellowstone recently in an episode so still lacking still sharp as a tack. It's good to hear and yeah, doing great. Then there's John Wood. He plays Falken also rest in peace, but I didn't get his stats down. But I know we lost him. Ally Sheedy, a very young Ally Sheedy, who became a brat Packer. She plays Jennifer. And then Barry Corbin, who's fantastic is Gen Behringer. And he's in tons of movies, but we're not going to go into them because they're not in this opening scene. Go back and watch the movie, we may come back and revisit the whole movie for an episode of Let's Talk movies. Now, just a quick few little trivia before we jump into the scenes that we can really sink our teeth into. I talked about an original director Martin Brest was fired a week into filming this movie. Now Martin breasted movies like Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run Scent of a Woman what she was Oscar nominated for. And one point in time he then went on a date are dated Terry bolo from strictly background. Yes, that's and it all comes back around so
well let me ask you this. Do we are we going to learn why he was fired?
They had a conflict of creative differences. It's all I ever got. So I listen to the audio commentary hoping to pick up on more nuggets and looked online. It's all ever set. In fact, Batum never says anything bad. In fact, he compliments breast on it because some of his scenes stayed in the movie. early scenes in the movie shot at great and I love his work. Do you
see credit director at all? No uncredited, really. And they left some of the scenes in and when that happens, yeah, they imagine that you will be obliged to remove the scenes if you're going to uncredited and fire somebody, he doesn't
own the rights. So they move right on. I mean, he was also, oddly enough, the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont. High. He's actually in the movie as an actor in the movie when we did our breakdown of that movie on Let's Talk movies. I even pointed out yeah, there's Barton breasts in that scene. They're at the morgue. And they're like, looking at a body and Spicoli is like, awesome. You know? He's like, really loving it. They're like exploring this cadaver. Oh, yeah, Martin breast is right there, which is like, what the heck, that's so weird. But it was the 80s. Sure. So he was fired, and Batum came in. And basically he was saying that he had like, oh, we'll give you a few weeks to prep, because he's coming in something. It's already going, everyone's on hold. Everyone's getting paid. And he was going to take a few weeks to kind of flush out and you know, wrap his head around the thing. And they kept saying, Hey, can you just get going now? Can you just get going because we got to get going. So he just jumped in really early, hit the ground running, and it didn't impact the movie at all. It's an incredible film. So a credit to him and the entire team and organization for doing so. Under some tough circumstances. Mind you, I'm sure everyone shows up to work, directors fired. I saw you're an actor that would be you know, that throw you off your game, I would think
well, the closest I can imagine that is I'm in a play right now the stage adaptation of the lilies of the field, we have 11 performances, we're just finished eight and we're going to do 910 11 I came in late so my role that they couldn't find an actor to do my role, or anyone that they liked. So I came into the production this theater production, about a month after everybody. And speaking of first scenes, I am first out on the stage. So what you're doing here with analyzing the first scenes of movies really impacts me because in my play, I'm the first one out there so I think about that now you're it I am I am gonna set the bar high say absolutely do more pressure.
And speaking of Sidney Poitier, Wasn't he in a film adaptation of your play?
It's my understanding that it was a novel and then it became a movie and somewhere along the way, it became a problem and then became a play. But yeah, Sidney Poitier won an Oscar for his portrayal of Homer Smith and lilies of the field. Yes. Nice.
So two more quick ones. The movie is based in Seattle, we know that when you watch some movies, Seattle, Washington, you know this, and they're also at NORAD, which is at the Cheyenne Mountain complex in Colorado. A couple things though. The NORAD entrance tunnel is at Griffith Park.
You're saying in the movie,
they cheat it? It's
they cheat the entrance because I go to Griffith Park all the time. Yeah, it's one of those tunnels that you've driven through you wouldn't walk or hike Oh, like there are tunnels and more
towards the observatory. Exactly. Okay. I'm more more on the other side more towards the five course
of course, but I've driven through there and I see it in movies, I will spot it. I was even thinking that looks like it and then they came out and said it on the commentary. Like they confirmed it plus it does say it online. And David's house now again, set in Washington, Seattle, Washington, David's house is at 333 South Arden Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 900 to zero and that is in Hancock Park and I used to live five minutes from now on walk my old previous dog Brody around there almost every day and I've been right by David's house many times on art. So I was like that house looks familiar. You know Hancock Park, it has a very specific look in the houses. And then in the movie, David is arrested at a 711 in Big Bear Lake. So they cheat a lot of things. This, that and the other. And another coincidence, I had rented a cabin at one point in time, literally on the street that the seven elevens at the very end on the main street there. And I went to that 711
And I was watching you stay there knowing that the 711 was there. No, no,
no, no, I discovered it. A few years ago. I was watching it going. Wow. It really looks a little bit like big bear. And I was right on. So that was I love that man. I mean, that just excites me so much.
I know how you feel about locations. Yes,
it's huge. And lastly, Matthew Broderick breaks into the school's computer systems and WarGames to change his biology grade. And in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and 1986 He broke into change the number of days he missed school. So a common theme with Matthew Broderick. He is a computer nerd so
that's why I thought this movie was a comedy. And again, Matthew Broderick went into that with the producers remember on Broadway? Oh, yeah, that's a comedy so I my brain just went to comedy. Let me ask this question while I have you hope I don't stump you. What other serious dramas has Matthew Broderick been in besides this?
Well, has he been in serious dramas? Back in the day what Biloxi Blues had comedy but it had some dramatic aspects to it. It did and he was in Max Dugan returns which was More of a comedy lighthearted movie. So, yeah, I understand that. But you're speaking to the point that, you know, Ferris Bueller. That was a huge hit it bigger than WarGames, at least for Broderick, right. Because he was Ferris Bueller. He was taught billing and that movie was probably the biggest success for John Hughes from a theatrical standpoint. And that was this in its posters, ham. So yeah, I could understand like the persona of Ferris Bueller of Matthew Broderick, being a comedic actor, always had charges, right. Yeah. And that was years later, though, to me that there's that early era. But he did a lot of stage a lot of plays, and of course, led to, you know, doing the producers. So I always look to Him as more of a hybrid. He had comedic chops, but he was probably more of a dramatic actor. Because in this movie, he's not playing for laughs He's just a kid who's trying to play some games. And there's a couple of funny moments. He's not funny. He's playing it straight. And even in Ferris Bueller, he doesn't play for jokes. He's just a cool kid, breaking all the rules, you know. So he's not like a funny guy. They brought Cameron in to kind of do some of that stuff. So anyway, can't wait to see it. So we might have you back on for a first reactions.
Spoiler for anyone listening is this scene makes me want to see the rest of the movie. For sure.
It's working. That's good. So let's get into the scene. So we opened with, it's like a storm, and there's an SUV. And I love that shot. I mean, I heard they had all these, you know, when machines blowing and trying to create that atmosphere, and they go into this very unassuming house style. And this living room is something that your grandmother would be proud of. But it's not that isn't Sal, it's something completely different. And
I like this a lot. Because you think you're in some boring living room? No, no, it's a facade.
So what is it? Yes, exactly.
Yeah, they got to show their badges to them. It's a two way mirror, they show their badges. They get let in and all of a sudden, you're in this compound. So that the whole living room the whole that little house was all fake.
It was neat, though, right? It was like just that extra level, that extra layer of like, well, this is just a house, you gotta go in, and you got to show your badge and it's like, oh, you're behind the curtain. And that really was cool. It kind of blew my mind, actually. And we learned right away that this is US Air Force. And this is the replacement team, the two guys Lawson and Phelps. And they're running 20 minutes late. Because of that storm. It's a bad storm so they can barely even drive in it. Like visibility, what visibility and so we also find out it's a 24 hour shift, right? When you go into this job, it's 24 hours on we they say you know see you tomorrow. The main guy that was the other guy that I talked about earlier art Leffler played the guard Ginsburg and also saw I noticed that they give them weapons and bullets which come into play, but very interesting that they give that to you like your standard issue you're checking in sign in here's your gun. And I thought that was pretty interesting.
It is interesting because I think in that very moment if you were to pause you think why are they giving them guns are gonna compound what's going to happen here? You know, they're safe. Why would they need guns?
Totally. And the US military you think they'd already have a gun on him? Now you check in and now here's your gun. Now you're safe. But yeah, here's your gun. Well, then when they get on this elevator, so it reminds me of the same from Spies Like Us 1985 John Landis film, when they mock this entire scenario. I don't know if you remember that movie. I sent you a link earlier. Dave. You probably haven't
seen it. No, I did see that. I didn't know what it was from though. Yes, Spies Like Us. Okay.
They really just inflate this. You know, in fact, in that scene, it's hilarious. So two guys pull up. It's an la langue outskirts Lancaster, LA but yeah, Lancaster, they pull up to like an old abandoned or out of season drive in movie theater. And these two guys, and what BB King gets out and says why don't you gentlemen have a Pepsi? That was that was BB King rest in peace. I
used to be a universal.
Well, this was BB King. Yeah.
So I didn't know.
And he tells him to go into the going this old dilapidated like concession. And they go push the Pepsi machine and they get shot down like 1000 floors, and they're led. And so they were definitely mocking this in a good way. But it's so funny like you would never assume they go to this much trouble to hide something. But anyway, they're on the elevator. And Lawson begins to share this weed or grass story, which was way ahead of his time. So
Well, the fact that they're just talking about like two guys in a serious scenario. Talk to him about things that would be considered trivial or wrote, In other words, rote, or mundane, or just completely unrelated to the environment. Very reminiscent of some of the Tarantino scenes that you and I have talked about.
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it's very Pulp Fiction. You know you have the two Hitman going to a wee early and they just start talking about stuff Royale with cheese and all that fun stuff. Well, we're proving that are showing that these guys have camaraderie and you're together for these 24 hours. shifts, right? And who knows where they live on some base. They're probably always around each other. So they're probably having a constant conversation. They just pick it right back up. But it was interesting that these military guys are talking about weed. And then they get off the elevator, they approach this huge vault door they dial in. It looks like one star three, three. I don't know what that was for maybe 30 threes and Larry Bird reference, who knows? But then they relieved Tucker and Bevan and Sal Bevins. peterb with them and writes them. And they're always late, I think. I think there's like you guys, because you're waiting to be released, you're ready to go after 23 hours
until they get there.
That's 24 hours plus 20 minutes. So the vault opens in yours. You're really seeing this the level of security I mean, that door no one's breaking in that day, let alone you gotta go through all the layers to get there.
And at this very moment, is where my claustrophobia starts to kick in,
no it's one of the reasons why I don't like taking an underground subway. I do not like underground subways, I don't like
them. And most are underground. I mean,
but that's where I lived. When I was in Japan. They had various parts of the subway about what 15 feet off the ground, going through Tokyo. I said, Well, this is fantastic. But then as soon as it goes into the city, no, I don't like underground subways. I feel boxed in I really do.
You know, when I'm in New York, and sometimes I would go over to that film festival in Hoboken. I had to go over there and you really go into subway underneath the water, the Hudson River. And that's when I'm going out. I think that's great. That's the one time I'm going we're really underneath that. That's the one time it sets in like God just get through this. Yeah, not a fan
that might start to hyperventilate, even just thinking about it. Well, before
they go inside. I love that sign on the right to do see that thing. Oh my god, it says anyone urinated in this area will be discharged. I love I swear it says that it's so funny. That you know that was put there to see if anybody notices this is an Easter egg. Yeah, it does say that you're discharged can't piss down here. So then they go on this computer server room. So it also looks like something you could do Bitcoin mining. And I think it's just like servers everywhere to desk and they look about 1012 feet apart, right? They're not side by side desk. They're apart for a reason, which we're about to talk about. Yes. And one is facing a wall and the other one's facing this other wall. So if this guy looks over, he sees his back. But the other guy doesn't really have a vantage point of him all by design. Yeah, I tell you. Yeah. Which is cool. Anything to add before I continue?
No, it also reminds me of when I used to in my teens and early 20s. My buddy and I would rent studio time when we would record rap demos reminds me of some of the studios that we've been in those fully equipped Pro Studio. Oh, yeah, we're the you're sort of it's almost like a bunker. And that's what this is like. Yeah. But again, there's a bunker, obviously. Yeah, it is a bunker. So these audio studios, they kind of maybe fashion them after that if you're just like surrounded by equipment.
I wouldn't want to try to record in this bunker per se because it might be pretty loud that we should do the podcast in there with all the bells and the whistles and no.
Quiet were there nothing going on in there.
Were there nothing going. Yeah, if if Well, now out of nowhere, they literally just sit down just getting comfortable. Mind you that 20 minutes late. So had they been there? They would have had more.
You know what I just I just occurred to me. Had they been 30 minutes late. The other guys who
they couldn't have got down there on lockdown. Yeah. Oh, those guys who have been real pissed. So then Phelps has a red light appear because they both have their little desk and 1000s of buttons and panels and whatnot. And it's number eight warhead alarm, and Lawson says out a flicker with your finger. It's almost like hey, my computer's not working reboot it, you know, just kind of okay, flip, flip, flip, it goes off. And then we see live images of warheads and some really cool stuff sound. It really hammers home the image and just the era of Cold War as we talked about earlier, just seeing this, you know, like there's a warhead that's what it looks like. I love these cards, these insert shots. Very effective. I'm sure it's as accurate to you probably had back in the day teams like this in bunkers standing by waiting for to fire if and when needed. This is based on something of reality.
I'm also reminded of we have our system and laws in place. But the person who delivers the order is not the person that presses the button. Now it comes from the president they talked about where you go, like for example, when it comes to execution state executions. It's not the governor that pushes the but it's not a judge. It's some guy who does it comes from above. Yeah, but I mean, I would not want to be that guy. Pushing the button for whatever it is. Talk about the responsibility. Holy cow.
Yeah. And that looms here in this scene which makes it quite intense as we're, we're getting there, we're revving up to it. Well then all of a sudden, so the flicker goes away. And then a siren kicks off sirens, and we hear sky bird. So this bunker is called Sky bird, and dropkick. I love this calls. And so it's like Skybar This is dropkick red dash alpha message in two parts. So it's like a very mechanical you saw, like, robot almost like KITT from Knight Rider.
Yeah, no emotion,
no emotion, but it's a great voice. And sound also kind of reminds me his voice in particular, of the radio announcer from A Christmas Story 1983 When he's like, be sure to drink your Ovaltine. But he gives them the whole, like, like, get your pens ready, and they're doing the whole decoder thing. So they have a message coming in here I thought about today is like it really kind of reminds me of that. Now they both came out in 83. So that was just coincidence. But Sal, why don't you play this dropkick voice for us and kind of build some of this intensity that we we get in the scene?
So while that's going on, these guys scramble and get their pads of paper. And of course, you know, this is military talk, Romeo, get the AR Oscar get the Oh, and they're just writing it all down there individually at their own desk, right. And they go to authenticate this and they get the secure red box. Love the red box out there very quick on the it's funny that says two combination locks. Yeah, this is a movie. And they basically go over like make one move and they're open. Those things are not that easy. There's like five things I
know. You know what? They probably did it like we would do it to our lockers at school where you do the first two. So when you get there later, just do the third. Yeah.
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, who would know Right? And it's like, they go to their tables, they will crack that thing. And it says like the top secret red dash alpha, W O P R Whopper. This is in the movie a lot. Whopper stands for Saudi want to read it
war operation plan response. And it says
execution after that. I'll talk about Whopper shortly. But then there's the launch code. And it's d l g 2209. T V x. Launch order is confirmed. And then Phelps relays the following.
target selection, complete time and target sequence complete. Yield selection, complete, enable missiles, launch time, t minus 60 seconds.
So this puts things in motion when they check out and everything's complete. That means these warheads are going to be firing. And like you just said, these are just the guys who are told this is the protocol, you get this and if they check out, I guess both sides and everything, you're doing everything, you know, dot your i's, cross your t's you follow through, but you need two guys to make this happen to guys. And so it's real, as far as we know. And Lawson and Phelps feel the weight of the situation much like you just said you don't want to be that guy. You know, a lot of responsibility. Like, Hey, I know works usually okay, but now you've got a real situation. Now you have lives at your fingertip.
I mean, it's inevitable if you're sitting at that position. Yeah, what they're experiencing. That's what you're there for, right? Like to have it actually happen. Yes. Oh, boy. No, this is I feel for these guys. I really feel for these guys like would not want to be in that position.
Because we can make the assumption that it's never happened before. Yeah, I guess you can. So they probably never been here before. In this situation. They've trained for it. But here it is. And so they sit that far apart, because like I just said it takes two because when you get all the codes and all these things, you then have to insert launch keys like a regular key and have the panel flip it and there's off set launch. And I love just above it. There's a label says gently. Yeah, like this a little label that someone put on there. So just go real slow.
Don't like accidentally go here all the way. That was really
funny because both both stations had it. I was like, because the label looked a little different. I was like, Oh, that's really good. I like that nice touch. And Lawson instructs them because Lawson is the older of the two. Right? slightly older, slightly more senior of the two. And he instructs them to turn to set
well Phelps refers to Lawson as Sir does that mean that he's a superior? Yeah, I
guess so. You could tell he's definitely got some years on him.
Okay, well, because I'm assuming that he says superior. What's going to happen it makes it even more impactful
and that was a smart way to take it. Absolutely. So Lawson instructs him to turn to set and then the dramatic score kicks in, go back was shot to the warheads and they're steaming, you know, like, oh my gosh, warming up and it's intense. It's really intense. And then Lawson hesitates, again, the senior of the two who's had many more years of training, so we think, and then he instructs them to enable missiles, but reluctantly, right, he's like, and it is interesting that they could have easily made it the younger guys begin into panic, that'd be the more common way to take. But I love that it's this way. And you got the young buck who's following protocol. And it just becomes more and more intense. Yeah. And that leads to Lawson, who begins to question authority just a little bit. He wants wing command post. And then he wants to Sac headquarters. He wants to talk to somebody, right? He wants to talk to somebody and then why don't we bounce? Well, why don't you take it? Take the dialogue that happens between Phelps and Lawson. And I'll just do that a little instructions in between. So let's build up to this big climactic finish.
Phelps says, that's not the correct procedure, sir. That's not the correct procedure, sir. And Lawson says screw the procedure. I want someone on the goddamn phone before I kill 2 million people.
And now right t minus 20.
I got nothing here that might have been knocked out early. And Lawson's covered in sweat. He says, all right.
And then Lawson instructs them to churn launch keys to launch. But at T minus six. Lawson drops his hand.
And Phelps says sir, we have a launch order. Put your hand on the key sir.
T minus one launch. Now the warhead steaming but nothing's happened. They have not completed the cycle. And Phelps points his gun at Lawson whose back is to Phelps by design. He can't even see it. It's a powerful image. And please continue.
Sir. We are at launch. Turn your key. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Turn your key sir. Again, pointing the gun at it what I believe is his superior officer, which is more intense, even more. So.
When Lawson and by the way, John Spencer was such a fantastic actor. When he says that I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. He's not even talking to Phelps. He says he's having his own universe. Yeah, exactly. It is powerful. And they went with a better, more mature actor for that role, too, which was fantastic. And I love that. Yeah. Phelps has got him in his crosshairs now, so he can't really kill him. If he does. You cannot complete the cycle either. So there is that juxtaposition like, yeah, he's just trying to like intimidate him into turning his key.
It's almost like there should be a third guy. Like, just in case you know what I mean? Yeah. Because yeah, if he were to shoot him, heaven forbid, then the whole thing is just ruined, you know? Yeah.
Well, back to the guns. Those guns are there for that very reason
for each other. Holy cow. They're handing you guns, you and your buddy to potentially use on each other. Yeah, crazy. It is
crazy. I was thinking about that. Yesterday, like, oh, my gosh, I just hadn't, you know, delved into that very much. But I mean, unless someone broke in the bunker, but the okay, there's that too. But that will be very slim to break through all the levels of security that also good. I mean, unless Tom Cruise Mission Impossible to him show it up. But beyond that, it's there for that reason, you may have to do this. I guess if he did shoot him, he could say, hey, he wouldn't follow through. I did everything I could. Yeah. But like you said earlier before we recording loss and could have easily pulled his gun on Phelps said, Hey, I'm not doing this. So back off, and they can have a standoff. But I liked the way they took it. One guy just resigned from everything.
And this is what makes it even more intense is that first scene ends as a cliffhanger. Totally. Like, what happens?
Yeah, we basically get a great cut to a military vehicle Hongqi like my going up, and we see war games come on screen. And then it pulls up to the NORAD combat operations center at Cheyenne Mountain complex. And then the score kicks in. And it's like military sounding and it kind of feels like stripes that movie, and we're off the hook for a second it does it gives you a reprieve. A much needed reprieve needed. Yeah. So like, I guess what I just see the movies not messing around. It's such a great opening. It hooked me as a kid it terrified me as a kid, first of all, but we were in our eyes were just like what? And then now we're at no right and then what happened? So because again, you haven't seen this, but you begin to kind of meet some of the other players. And first of all, I should also say, we find out soon enough So that what happened here was indeed a drill.
That's what I didn't know. Gotta be like, in other words, I'm I guess I, I'm just I don't want it to be real. So I'm thinking, this wasn't real this was these guys didn't even know they were in a drill maybe one of those things you know.
Exactly. So Lawson's hunch now I don't know if his hunch was, Is this a drill he just wanted someone to verify before he killed 20 million people him and his cohort. But also we
don't know, like the viewer doesn't know who the missile is aimed at? Well, we just assume the missile would be aimed at Russia at this time. Well, Russia
comes into play very quickly. Okay. We go right to this mini war room. And they're just saying how you know, how did these guys not know it was a drill. So it's a given it's a drill. But somehow that information did not get passed down to the bunker, thank goodness that Lawson had this kind of change of heart. And averted there was the first version of World War Three right there. Because if they fire those missiles, they'll be counterattacks and, but that information didn't make it down there. But this puts the movie into motion. So it's a great device. Because it's decided in the meeting that Whopper, the computer we just talked about II didn't notice computer but war operation plan response. So there's a supercomputer big. This is the 80s. But cool looking, they put all these bells and whistles because the computer doesn't look like much. So that was a nice touch as well. It looks like it's working, you know, but it's going to replace the humans and controlling the US warheads slash missiles. And therefore humans are out of the way. If the President gives the command. The computer can take his orders and go without a motion. This is Skynet is with Yeah, exactly. But this is what puts it out there. And that what a great device like okay, humans failed, although no one's talking about it was a drill. So he we can't rely on humans was a computer when the done it? No, because the computer would have known it was drill. But that's beside the but
that's the whole argument in favor of autonomous vehicles. Human error, this eliminates human error. Yeah, we're meant to believe that humans are so error prone that we need a computer to do what we formerly did.
Well, there would be no more drinking and driving with autonomous vehicles, which would really lower death rates. But I know what you're saying, I get it, I get it. Let's primates we can't be trusted. So I just like to drive. I enjoy drive I love to drive to but insurance would be like, you know, $100,000 to drive because all right, I'll just do it. take a loan out. Well, there's this great shot. So first of all, we don't know what happened to our two guys, right? We don't know Phelps and Lawson. So they show them shortly thereafter. Because basically, they're gonna install this computer system in 30 days, men are out of the bunkers out of the silos. Computers are taking over, they can control it at the top. And they're removing those two chairs. They sat in great shot. You see our two guys, they're picking up some equipment head and out of the old bunker. And two other guys are carrying out the chairs. Like what a way to like that illustrates perfectly symbolic, like, wow, okay, it really makes its point visually without explanation. And so we know they're alive. You didn't continue and shoot him in the back of the head. That would have been terrible. And they're on good terms. Because I don't say is that there's that to the view. I forgive you, you know, you're gonna kill me remember that you had me in your crosshairs there Powell. But they worked through it. And of course, with the computer controlling things. This allows David, our hero in this movie, Matthew Broderick to enter the picture because he's a computer nerd high schooler live in Seattle. And he's hacking systems as the synopsis said looking for games and stumbles into accessing a military computer by mistake, thus setting up more scenes with warheads, and countdowns and nearly launching World War Three with Russia.
You know why this is also scarier is because you and I have been talking about cryptocurrency for a while, both on and off the air. And in the beginning you you're like, oh, it's safe. You know, crypto is safe. But how many stories have we heard recently, where maybe it's not as safe as we would hope because of hackers. hackers can potentially do something like this. You have to
guard them so I think they're safe within reason. Yes, it can get hacked. Hey, is cash
safe? Well, you'd have to physically assault me Yes, otherwise no.
And you can have crypto that's not on sitting on a computer you can have it on a drive nowhere online at all you could ever written down you can there's lots of ways to protect it. But most people Hey, most people use the same password for everything. Okay? Most people aren't that well guarded. And hackers are just like, oh my god, this is too easy. So there's that right well,
look at all these little fun little things that get passed around Facebook. Hey, everybody, what's tell us your favorite childhood dog's name? Yeah, everybody. I couldn't exist. Yeah,
and what street did you grow up on? What's your kid's birthday? It's all fun. Great. And we're on vacation now. And so you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, you know, whatever. It's not good. So I don't walk around thinking about that. But I tried to safeguard myself to some degree, but it's not like I got a lot. So, you know, I got a little crypto, I got all this. Yeah, it's all yours. It's all tangible. Sal lubes. And
some would have to like come in with a wheelbarrow. Totally.
Well, we talked about this in the beginning. But it is amazing to me sow that 39 years later. There's all this turmoil and issues with Russia, going into Ukraine, and all that's happening. And it is incredible that history repeats itself, like it does. And as far as that matter is concerned, I hope and pray for a good outcome. We're all a little uneasy. And it's just in there was a long time that Russia was kind of dormant is the big bad superpower for a long, long time. But here it is rearing its ugly head again. And I just happen to dust this movie off. And you're right, it kind of started when we did rocky for when Stallone went and made the ultimate Director's Cut rocky versus Drago and that put it on our radar. It's like oh, yeah, the Cold War and all that is right there in that movie, and it's here in this movie as well. But to this movie's point, it holds up beautifully. I gotta say, is good now is any viewing session I've had because I periodically check in you know, once every 5678 years it comes on, I put it on and like oh my gosh, you just forget how good it is and how young everybody is right? Like look at Damn you look at Matthew, but look at Ally Sheedy. But it is fantastic. And although not a comedy, it has just the right amount of comedy in it. Oh, there is some comedy in it. Not from Matthew Broderick. He really plays it straight. Yeah. Barry Corbin brings some comedy, okay. And I read the he ad libbed a lot of his lines. There's this great line in the movie where he's like, Well, they're always going to a DEF CON level. So like, I think they got it backwards, though. I think in real life. Five is the scariest it whatever it is the real military, they got it wrong. Because on the audio commentary, like we got that wrong, but whatever. So there's DEF CON 1234 And five. It's our defense conditions. That's what it stands for. For a high alert. The whole world's on panic and fighter pilots are standing by and they're getting ready to launch the missiles. And this movie gets to those points.
Well, the idea would be that it's like a burn first degree burns second degree third. Yeah, right. Yeah. murder in the first degree murder. It's like, the higher the number, the greater the threat we would think. Right?
I would think but whatever they go to. Yeah, it's like, oh, here we go. We're on the verge of world war three. If we get to that DEF CON level. It's on and what's happening is this doomsday clock, right, exactly. Yeah, I mean, I gotta say there's other memorable scenes, anything at NORAD. They did an incredible job. There's computer screens everywhere, people everywhere, but like I was trying to say, and I cut my own self off, but there is comedy Barry Corbin there's there's a sense of panic and Dabney Coleman's great in the movie and all these other aspects. But Corbin has lines like, well, I piss on a sparkplug. If I think it would help, he brings that Texas kind of twang and logic, and then he's real serious again. So there's moments of like reprieve, and then it's like, intense again.
Yeah, no, I've learned to appreciate when they relieve the tension, they release that pressure valve. I think we as audience, we need that. We can't be you know, clenching our teeth through two hours, you know,
well, I won't ruin the ending, but there's a lot going on the computer simulating things. They think they're seeing reality. And they're not because the computers kind of taken over and it's simulating this war. And that's the beauty. So yeah, we're on the verge of meltdown constantly in this film. And that's another great scenes really cool technology, analog, cool stuff. David, Matthew Broderick, he like opens a locked door with a micro cassette recorder, because he like figures out the tone. And that sequence alone blew my mind like he's behind some door that has like a keypad, and he rigs up a micro cassette recorder and then learns the code and plays it back to itself and it opens it like MacGyver stuff before MacGyver.
Jason, the closest I ever got to that was when I was a kid. I used to put nickels on the train tracks. The train would run over the nickels and those nickels I would put into the V chains. I would not put them they they would work in the Donkey Kong machine. Wow. And I was the only I didn't tell anybody. I didn't want to burn the spawning of a conch Sal Rodriguez but yeah, that's what it's that's the closest I've ever gotten to what's clever hacking and
that's good. Well, David also uses a payphone with no money. He like takes a receiver off kind of does some old traipse clip.
I know we used to do that the pit you put the pig shorts are sicker than you put it Yeah, we used to do that.
Hey, man, you should have been more than I was. I didn't even know he's there was something else really cool because earlier there was a voice talking but in In this movie, we actually see and hear computers talking. And listen to that commentary. I picked something up how they did it, you know, computer voices, but this is before you could even do it. It was readily available, right? Even David's computer in his house, but they took the actor who was a British actor who we lost passed away, unfortunately, who played Falken was John Wood. And he basically had a really great British accent. And he said words, but he would say sentences and reverse. This is what the director Batum had him do. Basically he this great phrase in the movies, shall we play a game because this computer just wants to play these games? Because Broadwick kind of stoke the fire. And so he would have this actor, John would say it reverse like game a play. We shall. And then he play it normal, but just that structure, saying it in reverse gave it the wrong shortness. Yeah, the cadence it was like, shall we play a game. And that's how it came out. And it's beautiful, because his voice also is just so distinct. So I didn't know that I thought it was some, you know, emulated real computer voice. But that was very clever. And I
reminisce Greek and spell member Speak and Spell. Exactly, yeah.
Yeah. So a lot of the good stuff to look forward to. I know that we gave some hints away here. But again, it's hard to not have spoilers after almost four decades. But but incredible movie, I hope that you're more excited than ever now to see itself. And yet now you're two for two on breakdowns of the opening scene. But I'm hoping these leads to your hit list of movies, and you're gonna follow through and watch them. And we'll keep having you back.
Your list you you are bringing things to my attention, you are showing me the first scenes of movies, and now I want to see more of them. But I like the idea that I'm sitting here almost kind of clueless for the rest of the movie and just solely focused. And I only know the opening scene, which is I kind of liked that angle, too.
I do too. Now I'm going to have other people on the show that actually have seen the opening scene of maybe the movie as a whole, I should say, but I like your angle. We like it, we're exploring it. This is good. And now that we're only going to do opening scene breakdowns, but on this show, I'm trying new formats. And I'm going to do a few of these and then we'll go back and do a full movie breakdown and we'll have another interview. Hey, it's a mixed bag here. We have lots of fun and we do what we do. We always talk movies. That's what we do. Yeah. So without further ado, please enjoy wargames. So thank you so much for listening. And please be sure to subscribe to the let's talk movies podcast as well as the let's talk movies YouTube Live Channel. You can also really help us by giving the show a five star rating on Apple podcast.
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