For the past week, we’ve been talking about Dazed And Confused, and next week we’ll get into American Graffiti: Both movies scrutinize youth culture by telling a handful of stories that take place over the course of one day, in the mid-1970s and early 1960s, respectively. Barry Levinson’s 1982 debut feature Diner covers a whole week—the last week of 1959, to be exact, in a middle-class Baltimore populated by men in their early 20s—but it’s in the same mold as the other two, in that it takes what the filmmaker remembers about being on the cusp of adulthood and serves it up with an appealing mix of nostalgia and criticism. Levinson’s circle of friends (played by Mickey Rourke, Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon, Timothy Daly, Paul Reiser, and Steve Guttenberg) have job problems, drinking problems, and trouble relating to women, and they’re hobbled by their obsessions with everything from Colts football to record-collecting. But as the 1950s end, they realize at last that they only have so many years left—or maybe even days—where they can stay up late and argue about Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis at the diner. Diner airs on TCM tonight at 2 a.m. Eastern.
March 14, 2014 newsreel