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In this episode, I talk about Nancy Savoca’s beautiful 1991 coming-of-age film, “Dogfight.” It stars River Phoenix and Lili Taylor as Eddie Birdlace and Rose Fenny, two teens who connect in 1963 in San Francisco, just before the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the escalation of the Vietnam War. It’s the night before Eddie is to be sent over to Vietnam and he and his marine buddies are holding a dogfight, which is a party where men invite the ugliest women they can find and the one with the most unattractive date wins a cash reward. Eddie invites Rose, but, although their initial meeting doesn’t go well, over the course of the film these two very different people gradually develop a profound connection. In my discussion, I talk about the politics of ugliness and beauty standards, the damage of toxic masculinity, and provide information on the making of the film. This episode contains spoilers.
Full Show Notes:
- Lucrecia Martel’s The Holy Girl
- I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman
- My episode on Brief Encounter
- My episode on The Enchanted Cottage
- The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks
- Lilith Fair documentary
- Janet Mock – “Being Pretty Is a Privilege, But We Refuse to Acknowledge It” (Allure)
- My episode on Maurice
- My episode on Desert Hearts
- More about the tv series American Dreams
All My Sources:
- Dogfight DVD with director’s commentary
- Last Night at the Viper Room by Gavin Edwards
- Nancy Savoca’s interview with The Free George
- Nancy Savoca’s interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1991
- Ryan Vandergriff – “The Fight for Dogfight: Remembering River Phoenix 25 Years On“
- Karen Heller – “River Phoenix Died 25 Years Ago. He’s Still Slipping Away From Us” (Chicago Tribune)
- Hadley Freeman – “The untold story of lost star River Phoenix – 25 years after his death” (The Guardian)
- Gavin Edwards – “The Lost Promise, and Puzzling Legacy, of River Phoenix” (Vanity Fair)
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