"Often overlooked ,'Talk Radio' is one of Oliver Stone's most enduring pieces of work. It's based on a radio play written by Eric Bogosian who is the main character in this, the film version .Bogosian delivers a powerful performance as the tortured, acerbic DJ shock-jock Barry Champlain.
Bogosian's play itself is based on the death of Denver DJ Alan Berg who was shot dead in 1984 by a White Power/Aryan group known as The Order.
Bogosian delivers a brilliant performance as Champlain - a former tailor's assistant in Dallas who is discovered by a local DJ and after audition, becomes a late-night DJ on a radio station.
The basic storyline is that Champlain does a nighttime show called 'Nighttalk' where he gets to talk live to various sick and twisted individuals who ring up. The characters who inhabit Champlain's life are Laura - his lover and assistant, Stew - his producer and similarly-sarcastic wit played by Stone favourite John C.McGinley and Dan the hard-nosed boss played by the brooding Alec Baldwin.
Baldwin is trying to get a national syndication deal for Bogosian and the Nighttalk show and a rep of Metrowave ,the company interested in the syndication is in the studio checking out Champlain's show. Champlain has had a bad night with lots of weird people ringing his show. In the midst of all of this, Champlain's estranged wife Ellen (played by Ellen Greene) is coming to Dallas for a few days.It's not made clear why she is coming but it seems that he is under pressure and needs someone in his life who truly understands him - like Ellen does.
The film is much more than a meditation on the sickness of society - the people who ring up the radio show host to taunt and be taunted by Champlain , but is about Champlain's loss of esteem and spirit in the wake of infidelity on his wife Ellen and years of abusing his guests. When Ellen comes to Dallas , she realises that she wants him back but he has been so poisoned by the world that he inhabits that he rebukes her attempt at reconciliation.
The film plays over the course of one dark night of the soul when Champlain receives a mystery package at the station which turns out to be a bomb hoax, has to deal with a high studio 'guest' called Chet who he invites down to the studio, and finally a nervous breakdown in the studio as he finally snaps.
The end of the film is not for the faint of heart. I don't want to spoil it but I think you can figure out that there are no happy endings.
Overall, 'Talk Radio' is a sombre and serious piece brilliantly acted all around. The script is co-written by Bogosian and Oliver Stone and is intelligent and vibrant.
I can thoroughly recommend this film to all lovers of serious, character-driven movies.
It's one of my all-time favourites"
Oliver Stone's best movie, Eric Bogosian's tour-de-force
David O'Brien | 01/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie works so well because unlike with his other films, Oliver Stone just lets the material do the work for him. The material and the actor/playwright, actually; Eric Bogosian's excellent portrayal of a talk-show host skirting his psyche's edge on-air and off is jaw-dropping. You watch this guy weave himself into a tighter and tighter shell as his world crumbles and feel helpless to stop his flight to destruction. Ellen Green and other supporting cast members round things out, and TALK RADIO ends up being the most powerful vision that Stone has ever brought to the screen, before or since."
Eric Bogosian at his Best
yosunnyjoe | New York, New York | 07/08/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Eric Bogsian may just be the most underated actor of our time. Eric plays an argumentitive and controversial radio talk show host in Dallas, one that was typical of the 70's and 80's AM band. This movie borrows some story line from the book "Talked to Death" which is about the late Denver host Allen Berg who was murdered. Oliver Stone brings this to us in hardcore movie fashion where on air lights are bright and groupie visitors are suspicious. This film identifies the pain behind the genius of the talk radio host by letting you into his out of control life. It's not about the shock comedy Howard Stern type talk show although much of Bogosians character is very shocking and sometimes funny. Most of all he is troubled, angry and can only be compared to the tv host of the 70s movie "Network" with Faye Dunaway. Bogosian is obsessed with the worlds faults and gives his listeners some awful tasting medicine. The actors who play the callers are interesting to say the least, as they sound so real at times expressing their discord and hurt feelings. The radio talk show type here is not trying to be funny but trying to change the world. Maybe you've heard them before. Please note that since this release both sports talk and comedy talk have succeeded. In the movie you hear an announcer say "Everybody loves to Talk". More apparently, They like to listen. The ending is predictable but still surprising. This movie is not for everybody but it's damn good!"
Beating You Senseless With Words--"Talk Radio" Is A Controve
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 11/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Talk Radio" seems to be one of Oliver Stone's lesser known works--I keep thinking it's going to come out in a better DVD format and more people will discover what a great, intense and challenging movie that it is. However, that has yet to happen--and we're left with an unimpressive DVD of a masterful work. More intimate, more claustrophobic, and more verbal than most of Stone's visually assaultive works, "Talk Radio" explores the power of words. Largely set within the confines of a radio studio during a nightly broadcast--"Talk Radio" relies on provocative ideas and intelligent performances. With this seeming lack of physical action, however, is a grandly entertaining and exciting picture.
At the center of "Talk Radio" is shock jockey Barry Champlain, played by Eric Bogosian. The story, based loosely on the real life murder of Alan Berg, was adapted from a play created by, written by, and starring Bogosian. On air nightly, Barry is free to provoke, insult and anger his listeners. His abrasive, obnoxious persona connects with many of his disaffected, vulnerable overnight audience--but offends in equal measure. The screenplay, consisting largely of haranguing diatribes, is spot on to the nuances of real radio interplay. And however you may feel about Barry, it's clear that he's a talented and intelligent button-pusher.
Since much of the picture rests on the power of monologue, Bogosian is front and center throughout. In what I feel is one of the great overlooked performances of the eighties, he is absolutely riveting. Magnetic and loathsome, intelligent and crude, self-righteous and manipulative--this is powerhouse acting. I know some may find such unpleasantness bothersome, but it's a fascinating look at a man emotionally trapped within a character he has created. And those that circle around Barry, either professionally or personally, also pay the price. Solid work from Ellen Greene, Alec Baldwin, and John C. McGinley help keep the action rolling--and open the work up from it's "one man show" origins.
Bogosian should have received much more acclaim for his writing and performance, they are unforgettable. The film is very confrontational. I'm absolutely exhausted every time I finish watching it! But I never fail to be completely enthralled by this destructive guy moving toward an inevitable conclusion. Rarely has a picture so powerfully demonstrated the power of words. KGHarris, 11/06."
The sharp and lonesome voices without faces
tomcheese | Sydney, Nova Scotia Canada | 02/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Barry Champlain (Eric Bogosian) is a tortured talk-radio host who feeds off the moral cesspool of his audience. His caustic worldview consumes his show and life and leads to a dazzling showdown between each; the pollution of his degenerate listeners ultimately being his own to claim. With creeping tracking shots and the camera circling Champlain like a vulture watching its prey, the main set of the radio station is kept alive. Bogosian gives a mesmerizing performance; the sharp and lonesome voices without faces over the airwaves strike a deep chord."