Remember when the war with IRAQ was starting up? And all the guys over
at CNN were saying, "Ooooooo, Saddam Hussein has Russian-made MIG fighter
planes," and "Oooooooo, Saddam Hussein has these CRACK fighting troops,
the Republican Guard," and "Ooooooooooo, it could take YEARS to win a
desert war" -- and then, one week later, it was, like, "Well, yes, we ARE
leading 89 to nothing at halftime, but he MIGHT make a comeback." See, I'm
convinced that the REASON we blew all their planes out of the sky in about
48 hours was that everybody was still all juiced up from watching "Top
"This is the real thing, gentlemen. This is what you've been trained for. MAKE US PROUD." Cause all the guys who were in Top Gun training by that time HAD seen the movie. That's why they joined up in the first place -- either that movie or An Officer and a Gentleman. The two greatest recruiting films for the Navy in movie history. Anyway, here's my point.
[doorbell] Come in, Leon!
My point is that, when this movie came out, you couldn't tell for SURE who the enemy was. The enemy planes had a big red star on the side, but a lot of critics said, "Oh they're obviously Libyans." Other critics said "Obviously Russians." Others said "Obviously Cubans."
LEON: The Navy wanted it that way.
Well, thank you, Leon, but since when did you take an interest in the making of a movie?
LEON: Don Simpson produced it. Good friend of mine.
You knew Don Simpson.
LEON: I was the first alternate pallbearer at his funeral.
Wow. Right there with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Jerry Bruckheimer, I guess.
LEON: Alternate pallbearer. I was there in case one of those Hollywood types couldn't handle it.
Leon, you're the ultimate Hollywood type.
LEON: That's why I worshipped Don Simpson.
Leon, don't you know that most people consider Don Simpson a symbol of the dark side of Hollywood? A world of Ferraris and hot tubs and shallow, meaningless lives?
LEON: Your point?
You said you worshipped Don Simpson?
LEON: It wasn't about the hot tubs, Joe Bob. Frankly, I'm a little tired of this hot-tub prejudice.
I'm not judging!
LEON: It's about the work, Joe Bob. It's about the work. You would be advised to follow Don Simpson's example. Watch this movie. It's genius.
I've seen this movie.
LEON: I rest my case.
Did you really know Don Simpson?
LEON: We were like that. Until he decided I was worshipping the devil and trying to kill him by beaming toxic laser rays at his house.
LEON: But that was later. He was really a nice guy.
I have a question. If the pilot's mask is hanging off the side of his face like that, how can the OTHER pilots hear him? How can the guy in the back seat hear him, for that matter?
LEON: It's a motion picture.
I know it's a motion picture, but it's supposed to be all approved by the Navy.
LEON: It's amazing what the Navy will do when you slide a little green across the table.
You're saying they PAID the Navy?
LEON: Big bucks.
All right, here's another question. Why do they allow Tom Cruise to sing "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" to Kelly McGillis? Because, first of all, she never HAD that loving feeling to begin with. And secondly, the song is twenty years old at the time of this movie. It's 1986. Why aren't they grooving to Whitesnake or something?
LEON: I'm familiar with every aspect of this movie. The soundtrack for this movie sold 2 million albums in ten weeks. It's the eighth all-time best-selling soundtrack in history.
Okay, but I'm just saying, "Why these songs?" They've got Righteous Brothers, Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis. These are the songs of the hippie and pre-hippie era. And even that HIT song, you know, the love song --
LEON: "Take My Breath Away."
"Take My Breath Away." It's softcore adult contemporary sixties pabulum.
LEON: The whole movie is a music video. That was the concept. Fast airplanes, flyboys and music.
Leon! Listen to me. Why not choose music that goes with WAR? Like Barry Sadler's Ballad of the Green Beret? THAT song would fit.
LEON: I don't know what you're talking about.
And I don't know what YOU'RE talking about.
LEON: One hundred seventy-six million dollars. That's what I'm talking about. On a 12-million-dollar budget.
You really DID know Don Simpson, didn't you?
LEON: Thirty-ninth grossing movie of all time. Val Kilmer didn't want to make it. Don had to strong-arm him, use his contract.
You just love the art of cinema, don't you, Leon?
LEON: Kelly McGillis was no picnic either.
Let me get this straight. This whole movie is about who wins the TROPHY at flight school? They don't give out a TROPHY at Top Gun school. And since when do they have classes that meet on the runway, on the tarmac, in little high school chairs? Wouldn't the Top Gun school have some kinda super-sophisticated classroom? With computer screens and stuff?
LEON: Joe Bob, how many movies have you produced?
What are you talking about?
LEON: Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer: Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, "Top Gun," Crimson Tide.
Well, I can understand your defending your friend, Leon.
LEON: It's not a matter of friendship, Joe Bob. You don't understand how this business works.
Leon, look. I'm trying to believe this movie. I LIKE this movie. But Navy fliers don't rip their masks off when they're flying. And they don't go like this [swivels head] when an enemy plane goes by. And they don't say, "Well, that Maverick-he almost kills people every time he goes up, and he disobeys orders, but DAMN is he good." They don't say that!
LEON: Joe Bob, this is not war. This is Disco War. This is entertainment.
I know! That's my point! The whole thing is based around trying to win a TROPHY.
So it's like playing whiffle ball! It doesn't mean anything.
LEON: Do you know how many "Top Gun" videos were sold in Mexico alone? This was the first sell-through video --
LEON: This is a great story.
Yeah, it is! And it's ripped off from "Wings of the Navy" and "Devil Dogs of the Air" and "Ceiling Zero" and about 19 other flying movies, most of them starring James Cagney, many of them directed by Howard Hawks. Back then the pilot had a drinking problem. He has to sober up and fly right. And BOTH of the competing pilots were trying to get the same girl. They don't even get THAT part of the story right.
LEON: So? Your point?
Leon, my POINT is that these guys look good in their designer flight suits -- and, by the way, the Navy doesn't have helmets like that. Those are the helmets of a Bolivian race car driver.
LEON: Let me put it this way, Joe Bob. This movie has everything. The style of "Flashdance" and the soul of Rambo.
That's my point.
LEON: That's my point.
That scene in the elevator was filmed after the rest of the movie was completed -- they added it because they wanted more of a love interest between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis, who did NOT particularly like each other while filming was going on. But what kind of a wuss gets all SWEATY with the boys, then goes over to Kelly's house and says "Can I take a shower?" and then LEAVES? You know, people have said that this movie is very homo-erotic.
All those shower scenes. All that rippling young flesh. The fact that Tom Cruise's relationship with Val Kilmer is more interesting than his relationship with Kelly McGillis. Hmmmmmm.
LEON: You're sick.
I'm kidding! Did you know that your friend Don Simpson, who used to brag that he evaded the military draft by intentionally crashing his motorcycle.
LEON: God, I miss him.
Best thing about this movie is that aerial footage. DANG is that good. Those are F-14 Tomcats, which have a top speed of 1,563 miles per hour. Is that your favorite part, Leon?
LEON: My favorite merchandising tie-in was the Top Gun roller coaster, which was installed at several Paramount theme parks around the country.
Leon, did you ever actually WATCH this movie?
LEON: Do you know that "Top Gun" is still, to this day, Paramount's top-selling video?
LEON: Yes, I love the movie. Well, gotta go.
This is the best part coming up. Two weeks to graduation.
LEON: Sorry. Big Thanksgiving get-together up at Tommy Lasorda's house.
You like sports?
LEON: Networking, Joe Bob. You should try it yourself.
If I ever wanna play second base for the Dodgers, I will.
LEON: Let me give you some advice. You're not going to understand this movie until you understand the following words: "Marketing Tie-In."
Thank you, Leon, what would I do without you?
LEON: You would be the most talented carnival ride operator at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
LEON: Remember, Joe Bob, it's all about The Work. [exits]
Thank you, Leon.
Well, you know if a guy has a deliriously happy marriage, he's a goner, right? It's a rule of moviemaking. So Anthony Edwards, who was the highest paid dramatic actor on TV -- $400,000 an episode on "ER," Eric LaSalle recently pulled slightly ahead of him -- Anthony Edwards, in the role where he was first really discovered, buys the farm when he ejects but hits the canopy, which is actually impossible, because the ejection system in an F-14 Tomcat doesn't work that way. But what's truly tragic about that scene is that the stunt pilot had to actually put one of those planes into an inverted flat spin, and he did NOT recover from it. Art Scholl died doing that scene. 53 years old. Flew planes in over a hundred films, beginning in 1959. And was totally ignored when the reviews of the movie came out, I have no idea why.
All right, let's watch a few commercials, see a little bit more Meg Ryan, in the role that also got HER noticed, even though she only worked TWO DAYS on the movie, and then we'll continue. Will this break Tom Cruise's spirit? Will he never be able to fly again? What suspense, right?
Man, they're MILKIN' this thing, aren't they? Tom Skerritt says, "It's up to you, Maverick. Your old man did the right thing." Blah blah blah. He gazes out at the runway. He meets his girlfriend in the bar. Why exactly does she have to go to Washington? I didn't get that part. WILL Tom Cruise ever fly again? Naw, I guess not. The movie's probably over, isn't it? But while we're waiting to find out, [knock, enters] how did I KNOW that the TNT Mail Girl was on her way over, to help us out with the little segment we call "Joe Bob's Advice to the Hopeless." Rusty, you flew planes for the Air Force. Why are there no women in this Top Gun class?
RUSTY: I don't know, because there have been women fighter pilots. Let's read this letter. It's from Seaman Jackson of Brunswick, Ohio.
RUSTY: Seamen Jackson.Okay. "Dear Joe Bob,
It's true, there's very little drinking in this movie. Very little fisticuffs."Well, at least I know YOU are on our side.
What do you say, Rusty? You're a battle-tested Air Force veteran. Is this film accurate?
RUSTY: Uh, well, I LOVE this movie.
RUSTY: They take a little license.
You have a confidence problem, Airman!
RUSTY: No, sir, this movie is not accurate, sir.
That's more like it.
Well, the movie seems finished right there, doesn't it? But isn't that a little creepy, when he flings Goose's dog tags into the ocean? Like he never existed? Like, "Sorry, Goose, have to MOVE ON." And what about that big MANLY HUG between Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. What happens at the emotional high point of the movie. "I can't leave Ice!" Not "I can't leave Kelly McGillis." What's the real love story here, you know? By the way, there is no MIG-28. That plane doesn't exist. All those enemy planes were F-5 Tiger II's. This is the movie that brought back military flag-waving, the first movie in years that didn't have a vet in a wheelchair, or a hippie, or MASH-type dopers, or a crazy Rambo guy. Just good clean Village People flying fast planes against a faceless enemy! Like a football game! Rah, rah, rah. So anyway, it's NOT over. We'll see what else happens, and then we'll move right into "The Exorcist," right after this.
[fading] Directed by Tony Scott. "Top Gun" is the movie that made Tony Scott. Before that he couldn't get arrested. Because of his much more famous older brother, Ridley Scott. Tony does happy endings. Ridley does endings where women drive cars off cliffs. The world comes to an end at the end of Ridley Scott movies, like in Blade Runner. Tony is like "Yeehaw! Let's party!"
I still don't know why "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" would be used as the LOVE THEME for the movie. It's an ANTI-love-theme song. Anyhow, "Top Gun" was SUCH a big hit that the same team got together again four years later to try make lightning strike again. Director Tony Scott, star Tom Cruise, and high-flying producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson -- they all collaborated on "Days of Thunder." And it was a stiff, and almost flattened their company. They came back in the mid-nineties with movies like "Crimson Tide" and "The Rock," but then Don Simpson died of a drug overdose in 1996 and the producing team was broken up. Jerry Bruckheimer forges ahead by himself, though. Armageddon -- that was his big hit last year. Lot of romance going on on the "Top Gun" set. Tony Scott was dating Brigitte Nielsen. Anthony Edwards and Meg Ryan were IN LOVE. Kelly McGillis was going to all the parties where Don Simpson brought his Penthouse Pets and getting nekkid in the pool with em. Today she's happily married, lives down in Key West, has a restaurant down there. But back then it was "Woooo-hoooo!" How come I never hear about this stuff till after it's over? Don't answer that.
Top Gun clip
(with comments by a guy stuck in space with 2 robots)
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Host segment transcript of broadcast
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