Anyhow, I'm Joe Bob Briggs, and we've got another America against the Russkies flick tonight, "WarGames." And Col. David Hackworth has agreed to stay here with us for that movie too. And I meant to ask you this, we haven't talked about gays in the military, but can gay guys shoot straight?
Hackworth: I think that probably one out of ten soldiers is gay. You noticed in the picture, the famous picture, of George Washington going across the Delaware, and the guy leaning against his knee?
Oh come on! (crew laughs)
Hackworth: We've had gays in the military forever. What the problem is, it's the mindset of the warrior, and the warrior's the 18-year-old that doesn't have better sense whether to live or die, and be a grunt, anyway. And his mindset is, and he's gotta have that mindset, that he wears golden armor, that he's bullet-proof, that there's no bullet with his name on it. And you take that away and you, say, introduce gays, and the macho thing leaves, and he says, "Wait a minute, I'm vulnerable, I can go down."
Are you saying gays aren't macho? Or, if you have a gay next to you, you don't feel as macho?
Hackworth: Yeah, it removes the macho thing from, it's a mindset. It's like...
They all need to be macho together.
OK. Well, the original reason I always heard for keeping them out is that they could be blackmailed, but, not anymore really, cause they're proud of being gay. And the only reason they could be blackmailed is that you say, "Do what I want you to do or I'm gonna tell your drill sergeant.
Hackworth: And today, when the President of the United States gives Communist China all our missile technology, we don't have to worry about blackmail anymore.
Did Clinton do that?
Hackworth: He sure did.
OK, well, "WarGames" is next. But first, lemme remind you that next week is acne night, where I'll be lecturing on the importance of good nutrition to facial hygiene, while we watch Motel Hell and Return of the Living Dead 2.
And now, our second feature, "WarGames," with Matthew Broderick as the underachiever who hacks into the U.S. Defense Systems and almost causes, you got it, World War 3. And no one will believe him when he tells them it was just a game, so he has to go on the run with Ally Sheedy and hotwire payphones and watch dinosaur movies and stop the Russians from nuking us to smithereens, so he can learn to swim someday.
Let's do the drive-in totals:
No dead bodies
No breasts, don't ask me who decided to show it here.
1 motor vehicle collision
1 helicopter chase
Big screen war graphics
Southern-style corn buttering
Global thermo-nuclear war fu
Three and a half stars. Check it out, and me and Hack will be here to guide you thru it.
That was Michael Madsen making his feature film debut in that opening scene where the other guy won't press the button, "Turn your key Sir!" Michael Madsen was Mr. Blond in Reservoir Dogs (1992), Susan Sarandon's boyfriend in "Thelma & Louise," to name a couple of his more important roles. So Hack, is that kind of how it works, as far as you know, in that room where they keep the nukes, and you have the two guys with guns, and they're both supposed to turn the keys, is that authentic?
Hackworth: I think it is. And I find it probably not real--the guy going to draw a pistol and say shoot, so he shoots him--cause he won't follow orders. Well, he won't be able to turn both keys at the same time [by himself].
I had a case where I told a helicopter driver to land, and it was a very bad situation in Viet Nam, and the driver didn't want to land. It was a hot landing, and I was out of commo, and I had to get in on the ground, and the pilot didn't want to land. So I just whipped my pistol out, laid it up against his head, and said, "Land!" And I thought later, what if he just said, "Screw you, Jack, I'm not gonna do it!" What am I gonna do, shoot him? So I think it was that same kind of...
Did he land though?
Hackworth: He landed.
I'd land (both laugh).
Hackworth: Nothing like cold steel to get your attention.
Well, they tried to be very authentic in this movie. They even had a couple of those big video game machines sent to Matthew Broderick's house so he could practice for the arcade scenes. But they didn't teach him to type, so he had to fake that, on the computer. But this is one of those rare "quality" movies for us here at MonsterVision, so I won't hold it up any farther. Roll the film.
They've got a great supporting cast for this flick. Barry Corbin, who plays the General, he makes a career out of playing Southerners: "Urban Cowboy," "Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia," Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, "The Big Easy," Northern Exposure where he was a Southerner living in Alaska. But the real General in charge of the real NORAD, at the time that this movie came out, didn't really like the casting of Barry Corbin in that part. He said he was slovenly, he was 50 pounds over-weight, which he always is, that he was 50 I.Q. points under-smart. And his direct quote was, "Maybe he'd make Lt., but never General." What do you think about that?
Hackworth: Well, I thought he was more modeled after the Curt LeMay character, the famous guy in the Air Force that smokes the cigars and so on. So to me, he tracked very well. I'm sure he probably modeled himself after LeMay. It worked.
What would I get to?
Hackworth: You'd make a great 2 or 4-star General. You're such a diplomat.
You CAN stay for the whole movie!
Back in 1983, I was fortunate enough to be at the very first screening of WarGames, at the Cannes Film Festival, and the general consensus was, it was gonna be a runaway hit. Great crowd-pleasing movie. And it didn't really work out that way. It was popular, but it was not really a block-buster. And when we show it on TNT, the ratings are OK. They're good, but they're not great. So, even though normally anything you show about global thermo-nuclear war, goes off the popularity scale...so, why is that Colonel? Why do we love the idea of nuclear war so much [in movies]?
Hackworth: I think, it's the end. It's the destruction of humankind. And we probably have some kind of fascination with that. Man has been frightened, from the beginning, of the Beast gobbling him up. Hey, this is the ultimate Beast.
OK. Well, we'll have time to talk about the movie more. But I want to ask you something about when you were a kid. You were born in Santa Monica, CA, is that right? And you were ten or so, when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
What happened in L.A., there?
Hackworth: Well, it was quite incredible. I came out of the Dome Theater in Ocean Park, and war was announced, and I grabbed a bundle of papers and started selling them. And before you know it, there was blackouts, and Japanese were going to invade, soldiers on the beach and barbed wire on the beach, search lights up in the sky and anti-aircraft guns slamming away. And my little peaceful hometown went from laid-back Santa Monica to a city under siege. Most of it was caused in our own heads. There were no Japanese planes up there, but the guys who were manning the anti-aircraft guns sure thought there were.
And that's what made you want to go to war?
Hackworth: Oh, I came from a family that lobbed into America in 1622, and got involved in every war from Virginia to California, so I came from that kind of a background, and I felt that the Japanese were trying to invade my hometown, and I wanted to kill a Jap for Mommy. I was eager to get in there.
So you lied about your age?
Hackworth: At 14, yeah.
Hackworth: They didn't ask questions. If you could pick up the rifle, that was all they wanted to know.
Alright, well, let's see if Matthew Broderick has found that password yet, as as we return to WarGames.
[fading] In 1983, what Matthew Broderick was doing, in this movie, was considered cute, you know? Hacking into the computer. Today it would be considered a felony. Not because he might start a nuclear war, but because he might tear up somebody's hard drive.
It's Defcom 3 at the Crystal Palace, and the ICBMs are warmed up and ready to fly. Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about?
Hackworth: You sound good to me.
What is an ICBM, exactly?
Hackworth: Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile. It's a thing that can go 10,000 miles and has the accuracy that it can hit a refrigerator.
Really? And you commanded these missiles.
Hackworth: I commanded the smaller ones. Infantry ones called Davy Crockets, frontline ones we had in West Germany. If we’d have fired them, we’d have blinded everyone in our battle group. And it told me how stupid the military was when they gave us this and said, “You can’t fire until a General says you can fire it.” And the corporal down there is being over-run by Soviet tanks, he’s going to wait for the General?
Well, today, how many of these babies do we have warmed up and ready to go?
Hackworth: About 3000 inter-continental ballistic missiles. But at the high point, when this film was made, I think America had about 25,000. The Soviets had about the same number. We had enough to melt planet Earth a hundred times and convert it into a little ping pong ball that’d be charcoal black.
Wow. Are any of our missiles aimed at Pakistan or India?
Hackworth: No, but they got it. I wonder where their missiles are aimed.
Right. You’ve said that your favorite medal is the Purple Heart, cause they can’t be faked, right? How do you fake the other medals?
Hackworth: Well, I give you a medal, and then three or four months down the track, you write me up for a medal, and we scratch each other’s back. So guys like Alexander Haig would write a medal up for his general, General Almond, and then General Almond gave Alexander Haig a Silver Star medal for retrieving his shaving kit up in North Korea during the war. So that’s how it’s played. So you see a General with a medal, even a Colonel, be dubious. You see a Corporal with a medal, salute him.
Really. It was a really great shaving kit, though.
Hackworth: Worth a Silver Star.
You know who turned down the Matthew Broderick role in this movie? Kevin Costner! Kevin Costner was 28 at the time, which seems kinda old for a high school kid, but he decided to do “The Big Chill” instead. He played the dead guy in “The Big Chill,” and then they cut his part completely out of that movie. But he’s probably over it by now, so let’s get back to it. Roll the film.
[fading] Listen to what the TV news is saying when Matthew Broderick walks in the house. They’re talking about a propolactic recycling center. I guess that’s a little joke, on the part of the filmmakers, although you could probably save money. I’d save…fifty cents a month.
Nabbed by the FBI while purchasing a Big Gulp. What could be more humiliating. David Hackworth is still with us. Retired Colonel, author, journalist, you think a high school student could tap into our missile-warning system?
Hackworth: They’re doing it. Just the other day, a couple of kids from California, 15 and 16 years old, cracked right thru the Pentagon. Got a lot of very vital information. That’s one of the frightening things to me of this new age, how we’re so vulnerable.
Could the United States ever accidentally be thrown into a war?
Hackworth: Well, we came about eighteen times during this time, especially in the 1980s, of being within 3 minutes of a nuclear war. The closest one was when a guy in the Pentagon put in a war game, a video war game, and the General came in and pressed the button and looked up and saw all these missiles incoming, and thought it was for real, rather than a tape. And some Corporal came up and said, “No, General,” click. But by that time, we were on Defcom 4, all the missiles were ready to go, airplanes were dispatched…
Well, see, what apparently inspired this movie was that in November of ’79 and twice in June of ’80, maybe this is the same thing you’re talking about, they had computer malfunctions at NORAD, and it did signal that the U.S. was under attack by Soviet missiles, and American forces were put on alert. They figured it out within about 60 seconds or so, but that’s, of course that’s, when you were in Australia resting up, so you could come back here and kick hiney, right? You’ve been quite a critic of the military.
Hackworth: I was, at that point in time, I was involved in, and eventually leading, the anti-nuclear movement in Australia, for this very reason. The more I got into it, the first thing that bothered me was, Ronald Reagan and “evil empire” and all of that, frothing at the mouth at how we could use nuclear weapons, and yes we could lose 40,000,000 people, but it would be like losing a leg, no big thing. Or like stepping on an anthill, was another one of his expressions, and I thought, “Wow, how did this guy from a B-grade movie become the man with his finger on the button!” And I decided, at that time, to sound off and try to wake up Australia, and maybe more of the world.
Wow, he said we could lose 40 million, no problem?
Hackworth: Wouldn’t be a big thing.
Hackworth: He wouldn’t remember that right now.
No he wouldn’t. Let’s see if we can get to Defcom 3. Roll it.
[fading] Did you eat Vegamite, when you lived in Australia?
Hackworth: I did, I love Vegamite!
Oh my God, I think that stuff is vile. It’s like spreading stale, evaporated beer on a piece of toast.
Hackworth: You only had it once. Now you gotta try it twice. .
Now does anybody besides me, think that it’s weird, that the FBI captures a computer hacker who’s monkeying around with the nuclear missile system, and the first thing they do is they take him inside NORAD to look at the system? And then the next thing they do, is they leave him alone in a room with a computer? So he can log onto the computer again. What do you say, Hack, are the civilian tech guys that stupid?
Hack: Nothing would surprise me. They had to introduce this guy into NORAD, so I guess they violated a few rules to get him in there.
OK, we’re at Defcom 3, the computer doesn’t know if it’s a game or it’s real, cause it doesn’t know the difference. And Dabney Coleman, who plays McKittrick, is good at intimidation techniques, like staring at kids while the phone rings, you know? And David, that’s Matthew Broderick, is quite mechanically-inclined, OK? That’s the setup for this next. Roll it
Do you have any kids?
Hackworth: Yeah, four.
Four kids! Do they call you Colonel?
Hackworth: They call me when they want money.
Really. Do they ever talk back to you?
Hackworth: Oh, I was away so much, that with my sons it was always a little bit of a rebellion thing, they felt they were in charge. And I’d come back and say, “Hey man, I’m the man here.”
You didn’t end up breeding any war protesters, did you?
Hackworth: Well, neither of my boys are anxious to join the military, and I’m happy that they didn’t.
But I thought that’s breaking a tradition going back to 1624.
Hackworth: But were never regular, I was the only regular soldier, we were just war-time guys. So I think they would enlist if our country were in peril. But thank goodness they don’t have to. .
It’s Defcom 3, and there’s a group of TOURISTS in the war room. Is there a chance that would happen?
Hackworth: No (laughs), I’m afraid not.
I like that read-out on the WOPPER, that nobody notices, the one that says it’s playing a game.
Hackworth: It was the only way they were going to get him out of there (on a schoolbus). I guess that was the vehicle they used.
Right. I haven’t mentioned the director, John Badham. I want to talk about him. Martin Breast was the original director, but they fired him after 3 weeks of shooting cause MGM thought his scenes didn’t have enough energy. This is a very energetic movie, so they brought in John Badham, who had scored in the ‘70s with Saturday Night Fever, and then he had a box-office disaster with that Richard Dreyfuss “Who’s Life Is It Anyway?” They couldn’t figure out why that movie didn’t do better, such an action-packed story about a guy who slowly dies in a hospital bed while begging everyone to unplug his life support.
So anyhow, about 5 minutes after Badham finished shooting the helicopter action flick Blue Thunder, he was called in on “WarGames.” He brought back the original writers, they brought back the original story, and MGM had a big hit. And I assume you’re liking “WarGames” better than “Red Dawn.”
Hackworth: Because it almost happened.
OK, let’s go. Back to the movie. There is one thing worse than watching Richard Dreyfuss die for two solid hours, and that’s watching Mary Tyler Moore die for two solid hours in the Broadway stage version. Whoa!
14 hours until the world blows up, and Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy are sittin’ around watching dinosaur movies on a 16mm projector. Falkin says that humans are going to destroy themselves like the dinosaurs were destroyed, and the only thing left will be the beaves. What are beaves? Doesn’t that mean cows? Like beavo? You know? Is a beave a cow? Maybe they had beaves in Australia, or Montana. Isn’t that where you live now, Montana?
On a farm?
Hackworth: Way out in the country.
You still have ducks (referring to a comment during “Red Dawn” host segments)?
Hackworth: No, a lotta ducks down there on the lake though.
What’s the last big story you covered?
Hackworth: Oh, I guess it would have been what was going on down in Bosnia. I went over there a number of times. I started my military career not far from there. It’s ironic that 53 years later, we’re doing the same thing. My regiment went into a town in northern Italy that borders on Yugoslavia, for a couple of months, and we spent nine years there. It was a big quagmire. So I guess it was that, the futility, of going back 53 years and seeing us do the same thing all over again.
What did you think of that guy, that fighter pilot that got shot down over Bosnia and became an American hero?
Hackworth: I thought it was a big joke. He violated every principle going, getting himself shot down, and then he lived on worms for 6 days, and we make him another Audie Murphy. It tells you where the Air Force is coming from, and where a lot of Americans are coming from.
I thought we should have honored the poorly trained Bosnian soldier who was able to shoot down the most sophisticated aircraft in the world
Hackworth: I think that was why we made all the smoke and mirrors happen, was this young Captain.
Well, we’re getting close to the end of the movie, so let’s get back to it. We haven’t talked, I also want to mention Dabney Coleman, cause Dabney Coleman was pretty hot when WarGames came out. He was still coasting off of Nine To Five and Tootsie, and he always seemed to get typecast as the abusive boss. But, he’s in that new Tom Hanks - Meg Ryan movie that’s coming out in a couple of months, You’ve Got Mail, and he’s playing a role that’s a real stretch for him. He’s playing the abusive boss.
Now can somebody tell me why these kids and this guy Falkin don’t just pick up a phone and call this NORAD place? They have to helicopter in from the Oregon coast, all the way to the Rockies, to tell them it’s just a game? I don’t know anything about helicopters, but can you even fly them that far that quick?
Maybe when it’s Defcom 1, the lines are tied up or something. How many times a year do you think we are above Defcom 5?
Hackworth: Well, during that period, a helluva number of times. Now, all the missiles are pointed at the ocean, and not at targets, except for the Chinese missiles pointed at U.S. cities.
Hackworth: Yeah. Clinton was supposed to come to an agreement with them, and maybe they’re not on target now. But we live in a very dangerous time now
How do we know where they’re pointed?
Hackworth: Well, we have agreements with them. We have inspectors who are verifying that those agreements are happening, so that’s how we know.
I see. What would you tell Clinton about the American military now, if you could talk to him, mono e mono?
Hackworth: I’d tell him it’s in a very sick shape, and what he needs is advisors that are not just politically-correct, but tough romping stomping people that’re going to get our military in shape. That we’re spending $300 Billion a year and we could have a far more effective military for $150 Billion a year, but we’re in a bad position because of, many many reasons, mainly being over-stretched, over-extended, doing jobs that have nothing to do with national security. We should get involved with defending America, not being a policeman of the world.
Alright, I’m all for that. Alright, I know you’ve probably got to be up at 0500 or something to kick some hiney, so we’ll let you get going but Hack, thanks for being here. I enjoyed it.
Hackworth: I did, too.
OK, let’s see if Matthew Broderick is going to stop World War 3, in the conclusion of WarGames. Go. And maybe you and me can go down to the firing range sometime for a little, are you a good shot? You gotta be, right?
Hackworth: Good with a grenade.
Good with a grenade. We could go down for some Texan target practice. You get to take your pick on what shape of target you want. We got human beings, wild game, or we have this giant black silhouette of Barbra Striesand and James Brolin, French-kissing. Very popular.
Wow! You might have noticed, or maybe you didn’t, that down about 60th in the credits, was the great character actor Stack Pierce, famous in the black exploitation movies of the ‘70s, now reduced to bit parts in WarGames. I didn’t even notice him in the movie. I want to thank Col. David Hackworth for being with us. You think you learned a lot tonight, wait til next week, when it’s acne night here at Joe Bob’s Summer School. We’ll have a dermatologist as our guest lecturer and learn about the edibility of human flesh in Motel Hell and Return of the Living Dead 2.
Be sure to be with us for that and be sure to start filling out your application now for that credit you can get at the Jefferson Davis Vocational Technical Middle School in Louisiana. And that’s it for me, Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you of what a very famous man once said, “Laugh alone, and the world thinks you’re an idiot.”
Did you guys hear about the Alabama couple that have eleven children? So they decide that that’s enough children. So the husband goes to the doctor, and the doctor says that there’s a procedure called a vasectomy that’ll solve their problem. The doctor tells him to go home, get a cherry bomb, light it, put it in a beer can, hold the can up to his ear, and count to ten. The guy from Alabama says, “I don’t see how puttin’ a cherry bomb in a beer car next to my ear is gonna help me.” So the couple drives over to Georgia to get a 2nd opinion. The Georgia doctor is about to tell them the procedure for a vasectomy when the man mentions that they’re from Alabama. So the doctor says well, go home, get a cherry bomb, light it, put it in a beer can, hold the can up to his ear, and count to ten. Well, he figures that 2 doctors can’t be wrong, so the man goes home, lights a cherry bomb, puts it in a beer can, he holds the can up to his ear. He begins to count. One, two, three, four, five, at which point he puts the beer can between his legs and begins counting on the other hand.
Joe Bob Briggs reminding you that the drive-in will never die!
Guy walks into a butcher shop and he sees the butcher making hamburger patties under his arm. So he goes to the Health Dept. to report the butcher. The clerk at the Health Dept. laughs and says, “You think that’s bad, you should see the guy who makes donuts.”
Host segment transcript of 8-22-98 TNT Summerschool broadcast
©1998 Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Blame any mis-spellings on Bill Laidlaw of Sci-fans.com
Audio clip from MovieSounds.com