80’s Movie of the Week: At Close Range
“Sean Penn. Christopher Walken. Like father. Like son. Like hell.” –1980’s narrator guy from the trailer.
As I write this article, I am listening to Madonna’s ‘Live to Tell’ which is both embarrassing and totally appropriate at the same time. The reason? The song is played, at least instrumentally, throughout the brilliant 1980’s movie At Close Range (it also plays while the credits roll).
For those unfamiliar with At Close Range, here’s all you need to know: it’s a 1980’s crime drama starring Christopher Walken and Sean Penn–playing estranged father and son–based on the true story of the Johnston gang which terrorized Pennsylvania farmers (as well as establishments like Longwood Gardens and Dutchwonderland) throughout the 1970’s.
Now, from what I’ve read about the Johnston gang, the movie seems to be shockingly accurate, which is pretty crazy.
There are many reasons that I love this movie, but the most obvious is because of Walken’s performance. These days, Walken is usually found helping out Joe Dirt or plotting against the Country Bears, which is awesome, but this is Walken at his best. He just looks like a damn snake in the grass, willing to kill anyone who threatens to put him behind bars. He also rocks one of the greatest cinematic mustaches of all time. Seriously, there are few things as menacing and redneck in this world than a red mustache (trust me), and his soliloquy about coyotes is terrific.
Penn is awesome too, as can be expected, and the final scene between the two is one of the most intense scenes I’ve ever watched (besides the cock fighting scene that occurs earlier in the movie).
One of the unsung heroes in the movies though–at least in my humble opinion–is all of the country, redneck Pennsylvania flossing that occurs in the movie. For instance, Penn is first in awe of Walken when he spends the night at his house and then wakes up the next morning to find Walken’s lady friend lounging in the pool. Not just any pool, mind you, but an ABOVE GROUND pool, aka the status symbol to end all status symbols.
So watch the trailer embedded below (take special note of the face Walken makes at the 2:39 mark) and then rent the movie. You won’t regret it.