Risky Business

Risky Business Information

Risky Business is a 1983 American teen comedy-drama film written by Paul Brickman in his directorial debut. It stars Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay. The hit film launched Cruise to stardom.


Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) is a 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, so Joel's mother tells him to tell the interviewer, Bill Rutherford, about his participation 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 is left with explicit instructions not to touch the stereo system and not to use his father's beloved Porsche. Joel's friend, Miles (Curtis Armstrong), convinces him to take advantage of his newfound freedom to have some fun. On the first night, he raids the liquor cabinet, plays the stereo loudly, and dances around the living room in his underpants, socks, and pink dress shirt to "Old Time Rock and Roll". Later, he and his friend Barry (Bronson Pinchot) take the Porsche out and drive it recklessly.

The following day, Miles calls a call girl named Jackie on Joel's behalf despite his frustrated objections. Jackie (Bruce A. Young) turns out to be a tall, masculine transvestite. Joel reluctantly pays Jackie most of the money his parents gave him to go 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 turns out to be a gorgeous blonde and they have sex all night. The following morning, Lana asks Joel for $300 for her services. Having no money in the house, he goes to the bank, but when he returns, Lana is gone, along with his mother's expensive Steuben crystal egg. Joel and Miles find Lana at a restaurant and demand the egg back, but they are interrupted by Lana's pimp, Guido (Joe Pantoliano), who pulls a gun. Joel (in his father's Porsche 928) is chased by Guido, but manages to escape.

The next morning, Lana tells Joel that the egg is with the rest of her stuff at Guido's. Joel lets Lana stay at his house while he goes to school. When he returns, his friends are over, and Lana has invited another prostitute, Vicki (Shera Danese), to stay. Later, Lana mentions to Joel that his friends should collaborate with her friends to make money. Joel rejects the idea.

That night, Joel, Lana, Vicki, and Barry go out. They get stoned, and while Vicky and Barry wander away, Joel and Lana talk. Lana takes offense to something Joel says and leaves. While retrieving her purse from Joel's car, she inadvertently moves the shifter out of gear. Moments later, the car rolls down the hill and onto a pier, despite Joel's futile attempt to stop it. The pier collapses, dumping the Porsche into Lake Michigan. Joel takes the car to a repair shop and is horrified to learn how much it will cost to fix it.

Arriving tardy to school, Joel realizes his lateness will cause him to fail 2 midterms. He attempts to explain his situation to the school nurse but is coldly rebuffed. He grabs the nurse by the collar and calmly demands compassion. Following this, Joel is suspended for 5 days and kicked out of Future Enterprisers. He goes to see Lana, who decides to turn the Goodsons' house into a brothel for a night; Joel's share of the profits will pay for the car repairs.

The party is a huge success; the house is packed with Joel's friends and classmates and Lana's co-workers. However, Rutherford (Richard Masur) chooses that night to evaluate Joel for admission to Princeton. The interview is plagued by interruptions, and Rutherford is unimpressed by Joel's resume. Unaffected by the apparent rejection, Joel famously puts on a pair of Wayfarers and joyously exclaims, "Looks like University of Illinois!" Afterwards, Rutherford stays at the party and becomes acquainted with Lana's friends. After the party, Joel and Lana go and have sex on the deserted Chicago 'L'.

The next morning, Joel finds his house has been burgled. When he tries to call Lana, Guido answers; he tells Joel that he will let Joel buy back his furniture. Joel buys back all of the furniture, the final piece being the glass egg. Guido's female associate tosses the egg like a football and Joel just barely manages to catch it before it hits the ground. 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 eventually accepts responsibility and goes out to rake the yard. His father comes up to him and excitedly informs Joel that Rutherford was satisfied with the interview and said "Princeton could use a guy like Joel".

Joel meets Lana at a restaurant, and they speculate about their future. She tells him that she wants to keep on seeing him; he jokes that it will cost her. In a final voiceover, Joel reveals that, for his Future Enterprises class, he "deals in human fulfillment" and it has turned quite a profit. He ends by quoting Guido: "Time of your life, huh kid?"

Original ending

The newly remastered 25th-anniversary edition offers "both the upbeat studio ending and Mr. Brickman's original, more tentative and melancholic conclusion". In this ending, while Joel is still accepted into Princeton, the film ends on an ambiguous note. Joel and Lana ponder the future and Joel then asks Lana if their "night together" was all a setup. Lana denies this, but it is clear that Joel has difficulty believing Lana and states that he does not want her to get hurt, to which Lana exclaims in frustration, "Why does it have to be so tough?" Joel asks Lana for her embrace, and she embraces him reluctantly. The scene and film conclude not with the quote from Guido, but with the voiced-over line, "Isn't life grand?" After test screenings, it was decided by The Geffen Company that the film needed a more upbeat ending.


  • Tom Cruise as Joel Goodson
  • Rebecca De Mornay as Lana
  • Joe Pantoliano as Guido
  • Richard Masur as Rutherford
  • Bronson Pinchot as Barry
  • Curtis Armstrong as Miles
  • Nicholas Pryor as Mr. Goodson
  • Janet Carroll as Mrs. Goodson
  • Shera Danese as Vicki
  • Raphael Sbarge as Glenn
  • Bruce A. Young as Jackie
  • Fern Persons as Lab Teacher


See Risky Business (soundtrack) for more information The film score was by Tangerine Dream; their songs comprised 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, "Every Breath You Take" by The Police, 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.


Risky Business received critical acclaim by critics and audiences. It is also considered by many as one of the best films of 1983. 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." 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."

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".

Ebert continued:

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, go 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."

In 2006, the film was #40 on Entertainment Weeklys 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."

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 in episodes of many television series, films, and advertisements.

The film was arguably the beginning of the resurgence in popularity of the Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses.

The film holds a 98% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Risky_Business" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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