To Live and Die with Wang Chung
Today's guest blogger is Jay Wright of Loganville, Ga. During the '80s, Jay had the largest collection of Hawaiian shirts like his hero Tom Selleck of Magnum P.I. before switching to the Miami Vice look, complete with wearing shoes with no socks while attending high school ...
TODAY'S RETRO-REVIEW: 1985's To Live and Die in L.A., starring William L. Petersen, John Pankow, Willem Dafoe and Dean Stockwell; written and directed by William Friedkin.
THE PLOT: Secret Service agent Richard Chance (Petersen) and his new partner (Pankow) do whatever it takes to try and take down a counterfeiter responsible for killing Chance's partner.
MAYBE YOU REMEMBER: The 10-minute, white-knuckle wrong-way freeway chase that is one the best ever filmed. It should be considering the director, William Friedkin, was responsible for the chase scene for The French Connection, which was an Oscar winner in 1971.
SURELY YOU CAN'T FORGET: The soundtrack was by Wang Chung. Yes, by Wang Chung, famous for Dance Hall Days and Everyone Have Fun Tonight. William Friedkin did not want them to do a title song but they did it anyway. Turns out Friedkin loved it and added it to the movie after he heard it.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID: "I like movies that teach me about something, movies that have researched their subject and contain a lot of information, casually contained in between the big dramatic scenes. To Live and Die in L.A. seems to know a lot about counterfeiting and also about the interior policies of the Secret Service. The film isn't just about cops and robbers, but about two systems of doing business, and how one of the systems finds a way to change itself in order to defeat the other. That's interesting. So is the chase." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
WHY WE LOVE IT: The great car chase, the surprise ending, the great soundtrack and the flashy visuals. Michael Mann liked it so much he sued William Friedkin over the film because it was too much like Miami Vice. Mann lost the lawsuit and Petersen's next project was Manhunter, directed by Michael Mann. It's aged pretty well and reminds of us a damn good crime film.
TOP 5 QUOTES FROM TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.:
5. "That doesn't mean I'm gonna roll over and play informer. If you're looking for a pigeon, go to the park."
4. "Remember me? Football game at the airport?"
3. "They want me to have an operation, but I can't stand the thought of one of those prison butchers slicing me open."
2. "We got an FBI agent killed. You hear that?"
1. "We’re going to an auto parts store to get a replacement."