This opening of Risky Business clip is a reminder that as recently as the ’80s many filmmakers shot their films in an open-matte 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Even if you’re not a boxy-is-beautiful fanatic like myself, you have to admit there’s something very pleasurable about suddenly seeing all of that extra visual information on the tops of bottoms of the frames — information that has been steadfastly hidden since the forces of 1.85 fascism decreed 20 or 25 years ago that only 1.85 croppings of standard-Academy-ratio films would be offered for rental or purchase.
I don’t like acknowledging that Risky Business opened 33 and 1/3 years ago, but it did.
“Paul Brickman‘s Risky Business reflected and in some ways defined the early ’80s zeitgeist (Reagan-era morality, go for the greenbacks, the receding of progressive ’70s culture). And it brought about an ungodly torrent of tits-and-zits comedies, so numerous and pernicious that they became a genre that forever tarnished the meaning of ‘mainstream Hollywood comedy.’ But Risky Business was a perfect brew.
“The Tom Cruise-Rebecca DeMornay sex scenes were legendary, the vibe of upper-middle-class entitlement was delivered with natural authority, Joe Pantoliano‘s Guido is arguably a more memorable character than his Ralph Cifaretto in The Sopranos, and the opening dream sequence is just as funny and on-target in its depiction of encroaching doom as Woody Allen‘s Bergmanesque train-car sequence at the beginning of Stardust Memories.
“I had an invite to a special Risky Business screening at the Beverly Hills Academy a week before the opening, but I blew it off because a girlfriend was visiting that night and things were hot and heavy at the time. I wound up catching it ten days later at a theatre in Westwood, and I remember saying to myself after it ended, ‘Wow, what I was thinking when I missed that screening?’
“I remember sitting at the long-ago-shuttered Joe Allen (Third Street across from Cedars Sinai) a month or two after Risky Business opened, and noticing Cruise and DeMornay sitting at a darkly lighted table together, apart from the crowd.
“HE’s all-time favorite sex scene is the one on the Chicago “L” between Cruise (by anyone’s measure an unlikely participant in this realm) and DeMornay. It’s perfect because like any transcendent sexual encounter it feels levitational — orchestrated, finely tuned, rhythmic, musical. It multiplies and compounds the sexual train metaphor that Alfred Hitchcock created in that last shot in North by Northwest, and it ends with that perfect (i.e., very subtle) electric train-track spark.”