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Risky Business

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Brickman
Produced by Jon Avnet
Steve Tisch
The Geffen Company
Written by Paul Brickman
Starring Tom Cruise
Rebecca De Mornay
Joe Pantoliano
Music by Tangerine Dream
Cinematography Bruce Surtees
Editing by Richard Chew
Studio The Geffen Company
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) August 5, 1983
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6.2 million
Gross revenue $63,541,777

Risky Business is a 1983 teen comedy-drama film written by Paul Brickman in his directorial debut. It is best known for being the film that launched Tom Cruise to stardom.[1] The film also stars Rebecca De Mornay as Lana and Joe Pantoliano as Guido. It features Curtis Armstrong as Miles, Richard Masur as Rutherford, the Princeton University interviewer, and Bronson Pinchot as Barry.



Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) is a tame high school student who lives with his wealthy parents in the North Shore area of suburban Chicago. His father wants him to attend Princeton University, his alma mater,[2] so Joel participates in Future Enterprisers, an extracurricular activity in which students work in teams to create small businesses.

When his parents go away on a trip, Joel's friend Miles (Curtis Armstrong) convinces him to take advantage of his newfound freedom by having some fun. On the first night, he raids the liquor cabinet, plays the stereo loudly, and dances around the living room in his underwear and pink dress shirt to the tune of "Old Time Rock and Roll". Another night, he races his father's Porsche 928, despite his parents' explicit instruction to drive only his mother's car.

The following day, Miles suggests that Joel contact a call girl. Joel refuses, but Miles calls "Jackie" on his behalf and leaves Joel's address on the answering machine. Jackie (Bruce A. Young) turns out to be a tall, masculine transvestite. Joel sends Jackie away, but before she leaves, she gives Joel the number for Lana, another prostitute, promising that she's what "every white boy off the lake wants".

That night, Joel is unable to sleep and hesitantly calls Lana (Rebecca De Mornay). She visits him that evening, and turns out to be a stunning blonde. They then have sex and spend a heated night together.

The following morning, Lana asks Joel for $300. She agrees to wait while he goes to the bank to get the money; however, when he returns, Lana is gone, along with his mother's expensive Steuben glass egg.

Joel and Miles go to the Drake Hotel, where Jackie says Lana will be. Joel sees Lana, but only waves at her before leaving. As they are leaving, Lana asks Joel for a ride. As they sit in the car, Joel demands the egg back in exchange for the ride. Lana agrees, but as the discussion continues, the car is approached by Lana's pimp, Guido (Joe Pantoliano), who pulls a gun. Joel (in his father's Porsche) is chased in his car by Guido, but eventually escapes.

The next morning, Lana tells Joel that the egg is with the rest of her stuff at Guido's. Joel lets Lana stay while he goes to school. When he returns, his friends are over, and Lana has invited another prostitute, Vicky, to stay. They agree that the stay is only temporary. Later Lana mentions to Joel that "we should get your friends and my friends together. We'd make a lot of money." Joel rejects the idea.

That night, Joel, Lana, Vicky, and Joel's friend Barry (Bronson Pinchot) go out. They get stoned, and while Vicky and Barry wander away, Joel and Lana talk. Joel says something that Lana takes as judgmental, and she leaves. While retrieving her purse from the car, she accidentally bumps the shifter out of gear. Moments later, the car rolls down the hill where Joel has parked and onto a pier. The pier collapses, and his father's Porsche falls into Lake Michigan.

Joel takes the car to a repair shop. Later he goes to school and argues with the school registrar that if his absence is labeled as unexcused, he will fail two midterms. The confrontation causes him to be punished with a five day suspension and his expulsion from Future Enterprisers. Exasperated, he goes to visit Lana, and they are reunited.

Joel and Lana arrange a huge party, turning his parents' house into a brothel for a night. Joel describes arranging the event using the same terms as creating the product for his Future Enterprisers business.

The party is a huge success, and the house is packed with young men and prostitutes. However, Joel has forgotten that the interviewer from Princeton (Richard Masur) is still coming by to evaluate Joel. The interview is plagued by interruptions, and the interviewer does not seem impressed by Joel's resume, telling him: "You've done some solid work, but it's just not Ivy League now, is it?" After the interview, he stays at the party for a while, and is evidently well-treated by Lana's friends. Later, Joel gets a call from his parents, reminding him of their flight home. After the party, Joel and Lana go out and have sex on the Chicago 'L'.

The next morning, Joel finds his house has been burglarized. When he tries to call Lana, Guido answers. He tells Joel that he will let Joel buy back his furniture. Fortunately, Joel and his friends manage to get everything moved back in just as his parents walk in, though his mother notices a crack in her egg. Joel tries to make amends by doing some extra housework. While he is raking the lawn, his father appears and congratulates him: the interviewer was very impressed, and has indicated Joel will be accepted into Princeton.

Later, Joel meets Lana at a restaurant, and they speculate about their future. Joel ponders how their lives will be ten years hence; Lana responds "I think we're both gonna make it big. I'm very optimistic." As they walk, she tells him that she wants to keep on seeing him; he jokes with her that it will cost her, reenacting the earlier scene where Lana asks Joel for $300. The film ends with Joel's voiceover echoing Guido's earlier threat: "Time of your life, huh kid?"


Alternate ending

The newly-remastered 25th-anniversary edition from Warner Home Video offers "both the upbeat studio ending and Mr. Brickman's original, more tentative and melancholic conclusion".[3] In the alternate or "bummer" ending, Joel is also accepted into Dartmouth College, and ponders his future with Lana on a rooftop.



The film score was by Tangerine Dream; their songs composed nearly half of the film soundtrack. Also included were songs by Muddy Waters, Prince, Jeff Beck, Journey, Phil Collins, and the song for which the film is best known, "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger.

The soundtrack album was released on Virgin Records, which was also Tangerine Dream's record company at the time the film was released.

The film also included "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen, and "Swamp" by Talking Heads (which includes the words "risky business" in the lyrics). The LP and CD versions of the soundtrack included two different versions of "Love on a Real Train (Risky Business)," neither of which matched the version used in the film for the final love scene or closing credits.


Janet Maslin, in her 1983 review of the film for The New York Times, called it "part satire, part would-be suburban poetry and part shameless showing off" and said the film "shows an abundance of style", though "you would be hard pressed to find a film whose hero's problems are of less concern to the world at large."[4] She called De Mornay "disarming as a call girl who looks more like a college girl" and credits Cruise with making "Joel's transformation from straight arrow to entrepreneur about as credible as it can be made."[5]

Roger Ebert was much more positive, calling it a film of "new faces and inspired insights and genuine laughs" and "one of the smartest, funniest, most perceptive satires in a long time" that "not only invites comparison with The Graduate, it earns it".[6]

Ebert continued:[6]

The very best thing about the movie is its dialogue. Paul Brickman, who wrote and directed, has an ear so good that he knows what to leave out. This is one of those movies where a few words or a single line says everything that needs to be said, implies everything that needs to be implied, and gets a laugh. When the hooker tells the kid, "Oh, Joel, go to school. Learn something," the precise inflection of those words defines their relationship for the next three scenes.

Variety said the film was like a "promising first novel, with all the pros and cons that come with that territory" and complimented Brickman on "the stylishness and talent of his direction."[7]

In 2006, the film was 40th on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies; the magazine called the film a "sharp satire of privileged suburban teens" about the "soul-crushing pressure to be perfect."[1][8]

In December 2008, columnist Stephen Metcalf looked at whether Cruise's career "bubble [has, with Valkyrie,] burst," and particularly looked again at Risky Business as not only important to Cruise's then-formative career but also as an important marker of the then-nascent Ronald Reagan and "money" cultures of the 1980s and beyond.[9]

In the years since the film's release, the scene featuring Cruise's character dancing in his pink dress shirt and briefs to Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger has been referenced or parodied in episodes of many television series, films, and advertisements.


  1. ^ a b The 50 Best High School Movies Entertainment Weekly
  2. ^ "Risky Business Indeed: Why the Tom Cruise bubble burst" by Stephen Metcalf Slate, December 22, 2008, retrieved December 28, 2008
  3. ^ "Critic's Choice" by Dave Kehr The New York Times. October 6, 2008.
  4. ^ Janet Maslin, Review: "Paul Brickman's Risky Business" The New York Times. August 5, 1983. Retrieved Decenber 12, 2008
  5. ^ J. Maslin NYTimes Ibid.
  6. ^ a b Ebert, Roger. - Review: "Risky Business". - Chicago Sun-Times. - January 1, 1983. - Retrieved July 2, 2008
  7. ^ Review of Risky Business by Variety
  8. ^ Entertainment Weekly's 50 Best High School Movies from
  9. ^ S. Metcalf, Slate Op. cit.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Risky Business is a 1983 film about a Chicago teenager who is looking for fun at home while his parents are away, but whose situation quickly gets out of hand when he invites a call girl to his house.

Written and directed by Paul Brickman.
Meet the model son who's been good too long. taglines


Joel Goodsen

  • [voiceover] The dream is always the same. Instead of going home, I go to the neighbors'. I ring, but nobody answers. The door is open, so I go inside. I'm looking around for the people, but nobody seems to be there. And then I hear the shower running, so I go upstairs to see what's what. Then I see her; this... girl, this incredible girl. I mean, what she's doing there I don't know, because she doesn't live there... but it's a dream, so I go with it. "Who's there?" she says. "Joel," I say. "What are you doing here?" "I don't know what I'm doing here; what are you doing here?" "I'm taking a shower," she says. Then I give her: "You want me to go?" "No," she says; "I want you to wash my back." So now, I'm gettin' enthusiastic about this dream. So I go to her, but she's hard to find through all the steam and stuff; I keep losing her. Finally I get to the door... and I... find myself in a room full of kids taking their college boards. I'm over three hours late; I've got two minutes to take the whole test. I've... just made a terrible mistake. I'll never get to college. My life is ruined.
  • [about Lana] It was great the way her mind worked: No guilt, no doubts, no fear. None of my specialties. Just this shameless pursuit of immediate material gratification. What a capitalist! She told me I could make more money in one night than I'd make all year. Enough to pay for my father's car. She told me she'd be my girlfriend. She told me a lot of things. I believed them all. So, she introduced me to her friends. I introduced her to my friends.


  • Joel, you look like a smart kid. I'm going to tell you something I'm sure you'll understand. You're having fun now, right? Right, Joel? The time of your life. In a sluggish economy, never ever fuck with another man's livelihood. Now, if you're smart, and I hope you are, you're not gonna make me come back here.


Miles: No guts, Goodson.
Joel: The problem was I just wasn't attracted to her.
Miles: That should never stop you.
Joel: She seemed too big.
Miles: It could've worked out.
Joel: I thought I'd get into trouble.
Miles: Sometimes you have to say, "What the fuck!" Make your move!
Joel: That's easy for you to say. You're all set. You're probably going to Harvard. Me, I don't want to make a mistake, jeopardize my future!
Miles: Joel, let me tell you something. Every now and then, say "What the fuck." "What the fuck" gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future... So your parents are going out of town. You got the place all to yourself.
Joel: Yeah.
Miles: What the fuck...If you can't say it, you can't do it.

Lana: This is a beautiful place, Ralph. Is it all yours?
Joel: It's my folks', actually.
Lana: Do you know what it's worth?
Joel: A lot, probably.
Lana: Oh, yeah! Real estate? It's fabulous!
Joel: Look, Lana... uh, my name isn't really Ralph. It's Joel.
Lana: Mmmm. I'll be needing 300 bucks...Joel.
Joel: You're kidding.
Lana: No, I don't believe that I am.
Joel: Can I send it to you?
Lana: Can you send it to me, Joel?
Joel: Well, uh, it's just that I don't have that much here in the house.
Lana: How much do you have?
Joel: I have 50 dollars.
Lana: 50 dollars? What are we going to do about this, Joel?
Joel: I don't know.
Joel: I, uh, have a bond at the bank. I could go cash that.
Lana: I'm not good at waiting for people.
Joel: I'll be quick.
Lana: Give it a try.

Joel: So is this Guido guy... he's your "manager"?
Lana: That's right.
Joel: Or a pimp?
Lana: Now that's quick Joel. Have you always been this quick, or is this something new?
Miles: I don't believe this! I've got a trig midterm tomorrow, and I'm being chased by Guido the killer pimp.

Joel: You're right. You are absolutely right to respond this way. I did not have a doctor's appointment. But I will tell you exactly what happened. "Unexcused." You see, Nurse Bolan lf you write "unexcused," I fail two mid-terms. It'll wreck my whole grade point average! If you'd just stop and listen to me, I'll explain everything. The truth is, my parents are away, and I met this girl. A call girl, actually. She came to my house. Look, you're writing again! This is not "unexcused"! If you will just listen to me, then you'll understand, Nurse Bolan. Why? Why won't you listen to me? [Nurse Bolen waves goodbye to Joel]
Girl: I had a doctor's appointment.
Joel: '[pushing the girl out of the way] Excuse me. It wasn't the girl, it was my father's car. I put my father's car into Lake Michigan and I had to get it fixed. [Nurse Bolan waves goodbye again] Just give me a break. [grabs Nurse Bolan by her lapels] Let me put it this way. I have spent the last four years of my life busting my butt in this shithole! I'm sorry. I don't think I can leave until I get just a little compassion from you.


  • Meet the model son who's been good too long.
  • There's a time for playing it safe and a time for Risky Business.


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