Tom Cruise as Joel Goodson, ambitious high school student
Chicago, Fall 1983
Film: Risky Business
Release Date: August 5, 1983
Director: Paul Brickman
Costume Designer: Robert De Mora
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is Tom Cruise’s 60th birthday, and the charismatic superstar has proved his staying power with the blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick, currently the highest-grossing movie of 2022 and of Cruise’s prolific career. The original Top Gun had elevated Cruise to stardom, following his breakthrough performance in Paul Brickman’s sharp satire Risky Business.
Though perhaps remembered most—and unfairly dismissed—as a teen sex comedy, Risky Business critically explores the impact of capitalism and consumerism through the lens of our high-achieving high schooler, Joel Goodson, who’s spent these first years of his life knowing nothing other than a relentless drive to succeed. In addition to the professional pressure applied by his parents, Joel also feels both the internal and peer pressure to achieve in the sexual arena, which he satisfies after hiring an escort named Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) after his parents leave him home alone for several weeks.
Joel and Lana’s relationship swiftly evolves from professional to personal… and then a combination of both after his father’s Porsche takes a swim in Lake Michigan while under Joel’s unauthorized care. To bankroll the car’s astronomical repair costs before his parents’ return, Joel tests his own entrepreneurial savvy by joining forces with Lana and turning his family home into a brothel for one night to turn a profit from his rich and horny classmates.
To kick off the first semi-annual #CarWeek series of 2022, let’s take a look at Joel’s all-American varsity style (apropos Cruise’s birthday on the eve of Independence Day) while behind the wheel of that prized Porsche 928. Continue reading
Robert Redford as Martin Bishop (formerly Martin Brice), digital security consultant and fugitive hacker
San Francisco, Fall 1991
Release Date: September 11, 1992
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Costume Designer: Bernie Pollack
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Robert Redford looks like he’s having a great time in Sneakers, Phil Alden Robinson’s 1992 crime comedy about a gang of professional computer hackers. Redford stars as Martin Brice, a digital “sneaker” who has spent more than 20 years on the lam legitimizing his talent to become a security consultant, re-christened Martin Bishop. His background leads to recruitment by two men claiming to work for the NSA, forcing Martin and his team to take on a dubiously legitimate job.
Despite its subject matter, Sneakers never feels excessively dated as it focuses less on the technical aspects of digital hacking and more on the camaraderie among Redford’s motley band, consisting of Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, River Phoenix, and Mary McDonnell. Redford’s character zips through the City by the Bay in a classic Karmann Ghia convertible, weathered but reliable like the then-56-year-old actor himself. Continue reading