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Christopher Walken’s first film of the 1980s was the controversial Heaven’s Gate directed by Michael Cimino. Walken also starred in the 1981 action adventure The Dogs of War, directed by John Irvin. He surprised many critics and filmgoers with his intricate tap-dancing striptease in Herbert Ross’s musical Pennies from Heaven.
In 1982, he played a socially awkward but gifted theater actor in the film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Who Am I This Time? opposite Susan Sarandon. Walken then played schoolteacher-turned-psychic Johnny Smith in David Cronenberg’s 1983 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. That same year, Walken also starred in Brainstorm alongside Natalie Wood and (in a minor role) his wife, Georgianne.
I think that if I had grown up and had been in show business and the movies twenty five, thirty years earlier, I think I would have made a lot more musical movies.
The film’s coup de grace is Christopher Walken playing the mobster. It’s hard to deny Walken’s silky fascination, and it’s always fun to listen to his melodious voice and quirky choice of syllable emphasis (he could put more creativity into the pronunciation of the words ‘suicide kings’ than that put into this entire production).