Saturday, 18 October 2008

The Eighties Part 2: Terrible and yet Brilliant - MIRACLE MILE.

"Mike, I want you and Susie to make a list for me. People who we might want to bring along. Scientists, leaders, great minds. I want it in five minutes, okay? "

Okay. I lied. I said action stars next. But that's my prerogative. And the Blog police have been delayed by a fallen tree on the Internets.

So. this week, I bring you a real humdinger from the eighties.

The following film is by turns ludicrous, badly acted and scripted, has appalling production values, and yet, is wonderful. Especially accompanied with cold beer, a tube of Pringles and copious amounts of chocolate.

Why do I like it?
Well, the dialogue is utterly ridiculous, and the plots preposterous.

Dive in...

Anthony 'ER' Edwards stars in this film about a man who answers a payphone call and finds out the world is about to end.

So far, so reasonable.
How did Mr Edwards find himself outside a diner to answer said call at midnight? Well, a bird picks up his (still smoking) discarded cigarette butt, and takes it to it's nest.

Once in the nest, the cigarette ignites the twigs around it, starting a fire on the top of Mr Edwards' building. That fire gets out of hand, creates merry havoc with some electricity cables and causes an electrical failure, causing Mr Edwards to leave his bed, because he can no longer sleep, and go out for coffee.
Contrived? Nahhhh. We have barely scratched the surface.

Get this...

Anthony (I won't call him Tony, as I don't know him),
answers a ringing phone outside the diner he is about to enter.
A hysterical Mexican fellow, who claims to work for the Government, screams that Russian Missiles have been launched against the US, and the US is about to retaliate. The final punchline: We have 70 minutes left alive.

Now then. Anthony, has a tough time convincing all the folk in the diner that the phone call he just picked up in the payphone spelled out impending nuclear disaster. Well. It is a tough sell.
BUT. Luckily, there is a woman (in a power-suit) in the diner whose boyfriend used to work for the Government.
She demands to know what the man on the payphone said, and gets Anthony to repeat it "verbatim". Luckily, Anthony has a perfect memory, and is able to repeat the conversation "verbatim", together with (get ready) the secret military codes that the man babbled.

Well. power-suit woman KNOWS it must be true, because her boyfriend used to talk about security codes, and she remembers this one as being FATAL.

Personally. If I am ever asked to vote for my favorite plot contrivance. This must surely be the finest.

The film goes on in this fashion, and doesn't end well for Anthony, nor indeed, civilization.

Now, for me there is some fascinating things about this movie.
Firstly, it's worth saying that Miracle Mile was voted one of the top ten unmade screenplays by American Film magazine in 1983. Either the magazine was staffed by lunatics, or something very wrong happened when it went through it's final draft.
It is also worth saying that the actual concept is a real snapshot of eighties nuclear paranoia, and for anyone over 30, the final reel of the film will send a shiver down your spine.

I implore anyone with a lust for 'bad yet good' films to seek this out. I have a copy of the US version on DVD if anyone wants a glance.

Any film where the lead character runs into a gym and asks aloud "Does anyone here know how to fly a helicopter?" MUST be seen.

A couple of memorable quotes, to end:

"I was just wondering if you know if anyone here had a son named Chip?"

"It's 4am,
All of the helicopter pilot bars are closed"


Bev said...

I love this instalment and may request to borrow the dvd please. I have been laughing aloud and no longer have worries about my essay so thank you ;o) x

Mr daniel said...

I want one.

Si said...

Good sir - now I know what blogs are for! MM is awesome for all the reasons you describe and there's something utterly devastating and eerie about that final scene ('Like Superman...'). I remember reading about it in Starburst magazine and being intrigued by it for years until I stumbled upon a cruelly abandoned ex rental VHS tape at a jumble sale. Miracle Mile inspired our first short film because I thought the title was so cool and decided to come up with a different story for it. We changed it to 'the Magic Mile' in the end though because the producer kept going on about pilgrimism or something?

Elinor said...

This sounds great!

Dan Turner said...

tell me about your short film.
Does it have a phone call in it?
What a cool device that is.
Or does it feature the gay gym instructor, who wears a pink leotard?

Si said...

No but now you mention it I think it always lacked a certain pink leotardness. Or perhaps we should have cast the blonde woman (Denise something?) from Star Trek who carries a briefcase stuffed with top secret documents, just happens to be in the right place at the right time and uses a mobile phone that requires planning legislation? Anyways, you can see the film, inspired by the title of Miracle Mile, at ! I should get the credits amended - 'inspired by the title of Miracle Mile'....