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American independent film is launched into the mainstream by Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies and videotape, starring James Spader as an impotent man who gets off on filming women talking about sex. Videotape also plays a role in a Spader film released almost simultaneously, Bad Influence, in which he plays a meek yuppie at the mercy of alpha male Rob Lowe – who was trying to rehabilitate his career after a tape leaked shot by the actor and documenting his real-life threesomes — one with a 16 year-old girl. We close the first half of this season talking about Lowe, Spader and how camcorder mediation of sex changed pop culture forever. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
The 1988 baseball blockbuster Bull Durham confirms Kevin Costner as the ultimate squeaky-clean, all-American heartthrob, building on a sexual persona sparked the year before with the neonoir No Way Out. Today we’ll talk about why Costner was the quintessential safe hunk for the 80s, his alchemic chemistry with co-star Sean Young in No Way Out, and her subsequent rocky road through Hollywood misogyny. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
The erotic thriller goes commercially mainstream with Fatal Attraction, a film which starts a national conversation about whether or not women can “have it all” – “it all” meaning both careers and marriage. Is Fatal Attraction an indictment of working women as “witches” and a call to roll back women’s rights, or a snapshot of extreme toxic masculinity? Plus: Dirty Dancing. Is it evil? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Billed as the hottest Hollywood film since Last Tango, 9 ½ Weeks was considered to have missed the mark by everyone who made it – including director Adrian Lyne, stars Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger, producer/writer Zalman King and his wife, writer Patricia Knop. Today we’ll talk about why this intoxicating and troubling film is worth a second look, how to square away the arguably feminist finished product from a production process that robbed Basinger of agency, and we’ll explore the film Rourke and King re-teamed on as a re-do, Wild Orchid. We’ll also talk about Rourke’s “bad boy” persona, and his problematic relationship with his second wife and co-star, supermodel Carre Otis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Just as the AIDS-related death of Rock Hudson was finally forcing straight people – and Hollywood – to acknowledge that epidemic, a film was released that transposed the new climate of sexual fear into a murder mystery. The sleeper hit of 1985, Jagged Edge turned Glenn Close from a respected actress into a star, and established the brand of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who would later write Basic Instinct and Showgirls. Almost a decade after radical feminists began to call for a crackdown on violent sexual imagery, Jagged Edge tried to have its cake and eat it, too: infusing its sex and violence – and its depiction of a career woman – with a fundamentally conservative point of view. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
In a time of bombastic blockbusters (and Reagan’s re-election), two auteurs defy the norms by releases violent films about sexual obsession, sparking a controversial mini-trend which one critic dubs “Vioporn.” Kathleen Turner, then also starring in a family-friendly blockbuster, plays a sex worker with a double life in Ken Russell’s Crimes of Passion. Brian DePalma, the most talked-about director of the moment, takes his tribute/critique of Hitchcock to the next level by casting Melanie Griffith – daughter of Hitchcock blonde Tippi Hedren – as a porn star in Body Double. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
While the music video was still in its infancy as a cultural phenomenon, two films were released that were accused of aping the “MTV aesthetic”: Adrian Lyne’s Flashdance, and Risky Business, which turned Tom Cruise into a major star. Today we’ll talk about what the “MTV aesthetic” was and why it was considered a big deal for movies to be influenced about it, and we’ll examine how both of these movies treated sex work and race within the context of 80s social mores and Reagan capitalism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
1982 saw the release of three hit high school-set comedies about sex: Porky’s, The Last American Virgin and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The only one to survive as a classic, Fast Times turned Phoebe Cates – who also appeared in the Blue Lagoon rip-off Paradise the same year – into a frozen-in-time icon of adolescent sexuality. Today we’ll talk about this sudden explosion of teen sex on movie screens, and compare Cates’s public persona and attitude to on-screen sexuality to that of Blue Lagoon star Brooke Shields. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
The New Hollywood directors of the late 1960s and 70s were the first generation of Hollywood filmmakers to grow up studying Hollywood movies as art. In 1981-1982, a number of those directors made actual or virtual remakes of classic Hollywood noir films, including Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat, and Bob Rafelson’s The Postman Always Rings Twice; and Paul Schrader’s Cat People. What was the value of revisiting the tropes and narratives of 1940s noirs in the 80s, beyond the fact that the sexual relationships implied in the original movies could now be depicted graphically? Today we’ll talk about how these films played into the personas of stars Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner, how they challenged the standards of what could be shown in movies of the 80s – and how and why they were received extremely differently. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
One of the most aesthetically influential movies of the ‘80s, Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo sets a template for much of what we’re going to discuss this season: it’s about sex as a conduit for wealth, masks and double lives, and the role of danger in desire. Today we’ll talk about the sexual persona of Gigolo star Richard Gere in the early 1980s; the ways in which Gigolo and other films from 1980 (Dressed to Kill, Cruising) grapple with straight male anxiety over gay male visibility; and the tension between the promotion of sex-positivity for women and the anti-feminist backlash. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
The sleeper hit of late 1979 was Blake Edwards’s sex farce 10, a comedic vivisection of a male midlife crisis, which turned 23 year-old California girl Bo Derek into a controversial cultural phenomenon. Derek’s early fame was framed in the media through the lens of her marriage to John Derek, who was 30 years her senior and who she met when she was 16. Today we’ll talk about Derek’s reign as a sex-positive bombshell in a time of extreme double standards, 10’s strangely prescient understanding of toxic masculinity, and the problem of how to frame teenage sexuality for adult consumption. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
In 1968, the Production Code gave way to the ratings system, and the brief legitimacy of the X-rated movie. Today we’ll focus on two massive, X-rated hits released within a year of one another in 1972-1973: Deep Throat, the first hardcore porn movie to become a mainstream blockbuster; and the international art film sensation Last Tango in Paris. Both of these hits were products of a male-centered sexual revolution, and both of their female stars later described making these movies as equivalent to being raped. We’ll talk about how both films gave Hollywood permission to intermingle sex and violence in the name of both profits and art, and how both have been reassessed as documents of violence against women. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Desperate to be seen as cool and not a relic of an earlier age in 70s America, Sammy gets into porn and drugs. A Rat Pack reunion gives him renewed purpose, but causes Dean to alienate himself further. As their time begins to run out, both Sammy and Dino are forced to contemplate what it was all for. By the late ‘90s, they’re both gone. We’ll try to sort out the incredibly murky legacies they left behind.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
In the mid-1960s, 47 year-old Dean Martin proves he's still got it by knocking the Beatles off the top of the pop charts, and by launching his long-running TV show, which brought a version of his nightclub act into America’s living rooms every week. But his middle-aged drunk schtick sours as the decade of hippies and Vietnam wears on. Sammy Davis Jr has his own challenges, living up to the expectations of a new generation of activists--and he only makes matters worse by embracing Richard Nixon. After disastrously dabbling with Motown, Sammy records “The Candy Man” -- a silly novelty single that he hated, but which ended up saving his career. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Released in 1965, Sammy Davis Jr.'s autobiography became an instant classic, one of the most dynamic celebrity memoirs ever published and a testament to Davis’s barrier-breaking success as a black man in America. But the story behind the book, which was conceived and developed by two white ghostwriters -- and the racial and sexual dynamics of Davis's life during the years leading up to its release, which included two marriages and one relationship with a white movie star which almost got him killed -- are even more fascinating. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
In the early 40s, both Dean and Sammy idolized Frank Sinatra. 20 years later, they became Sinatra’s cohorts in the Rat Pack, and, through Vegas gigs and increasingly disposable movies, the trio set a standard for grown men behaving badly that’s still influential today. In this episode, we’ll reveal what the Rat Pack’s Vegas shows were really like -- racist, homophobic, misogynist warts and all. We’ll also discuss the web of corruption linking these performers to the Mafia and the Kennedys, culminating in the death of an actress, and the death of the pretense that the Rat Pack racket was all innocent fun. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
After the breakup of Martin and Lewis, Dino has to figure out how to stand on his own as a solo act. He ends up developing an on-stage persona as a happy drunk, while at the same time, developing a resume as a serious actor in some of the biggest hits of the late 1950s, such as Some Came Running and Rio Bravo, through which he emerged as a kind of icon for the white masculinity crisis of the 1950s. How did Dino pull this off, and why was his interest in being taken seriously so apparently short-lived? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sammy tests the power of his new celebrity, on Broadway and in Hollywood, where he stars in the most controversial movie musical with an all-Black cast of all time -- a movie which is still being suppressed today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
In the first half of the 1950s, Martin and Lewis mint money as movie stars--and find unique ways to make their access to gangsters payoff--but stardom tears them apart. During this period, Sammy tries to prove himself to a Hollywood that still has little use for Black performers. Then, a horrible accident changes Sammy’s life--and changes his perceived value to the gate-keepers of the entertainment industry. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dean Martin meets and begins collaborating with Jerry Lewis. Martin and Lewis — an Italian and a Jew — become the most successful nightclub act in the country, and transition to Hollywood. Meanwhile, Sammy Davis Jr, determined to get the attention of the white entertainment world, starts working impressions of white stars into his act. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Comments (184)

ID22591039

Great topics but the narration makes it unbearable. I’m sorry but this must be the most annoying presentation in a podcast I’ve experienced to date.

May 18th
Reply (1)

Ayn Carey

this is one of Mt all time favorite podcasts and the Sammy and Dino story did not disappoint. beautifully researched and presented so that we see, not only the two men but also the cultures that shaped them. also, there's absolutely nothing wrong with her voice!

Jan 26th
Reply

Erfun Naderi

do one about rod serling pls

Dec 9th
Reply

Mark Power

This is a great podcast, but this current series is particularly good.

Dec 1st
Reply

Daphney Riddle

absolutely terrible narration.

Nov 24th
Reply

best 1's never come down

"Rona doesn't need a steak knife, she cuts her food with her tongue." #ronabarrett

Nov 11th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Shits of the same feather 🐦🐦

Nov 11th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Katherine Hepburn 👟

Nov 11th
Reply

best 1's never come down

🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠

Nov 11th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Great story-telling as always⭐🌠⭐⭐⭐ #FakeNews #MaureenOHara #row35

Nov 11th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Jack Denison...trash bag.

Nov 11th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Fascinating story on Dorothy Dandridge's $2M lawsuit against Confidential Magazine for criminal libel.

Nov 11th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Resumé Razors pain you; Rivers are damp; Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp. Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live. #DorothyParker #Poetry

Nov 11th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Judy Garland. Love her for her inclusiveness 🌈

Nov 10th
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best 1's never come down

She died like a champion. 🥀

Nov 10th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Platt’s unpublished memoir recalls a dinner meeting with Verhoeven to discuss the possibility that she direct “Women,” a Charles Bukowski novel that Platt had adapted for the “Basic Instinct” filmmaker. Verhoeven had rejected an earlier draft by Platt. He did not respond well to the suggestion that Platt make her directorial debut with “Women” when the prospect was raised by Barbara Boyle, a producer who was also at the meeting. “He turned pretty nasty at the suggestion,” Platt wrote, adding, “When we were standing in the foyer of the restaurant saying good night to Paul when he put his hands up my sweater in front of everybody and whispered in my ear, ‘if you f–k me, I’ll tell you how to write it.'” 😠

Nov 10th
Reply

best 1's never come down

..."that's the Polly I don't want to see. It's the sharp end of a knife." 😂 #PollyPlatt. #sayanything

Nov 10th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Elizabeth Taylor was the first celebrity to go public about going to rehab.

Nov 10th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Rabbit man

Nov 10th
Reply

best 1's never come down

Sulphur shots in the ass to treat Platt's Polio. Wow 😱

Nov 9th
Reply
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