Episode 86: Nancy Savoca’s Dogfight (1991)

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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.

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