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Every month, The State of Things hosts a conversation about a topic in film. Host Frank Stasio talks with Laura Boyes, film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art, and Marsha Gordon, film professor at North Carolina State University. And we want to hear from you. Submit your choices by email or tweet us with #SOTMovies.

Sex, Violence, And Bad Singing: Movies You Walked Out On

Braveheart poster
courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Despite the rise in luxury theatres with gourmet food and drink service, movie theater attendance is on the decline in the United States. Many more Americans are choosing to watch the latest releases at home from the comfort of their own couch. But no matter the size of the screen or the price of the experience, sometimes viewers just cannot make it to the end of a film.

In this edition of “Movies On The Radio,” film experts Marsha Gordonand Laura Boyesdissect the movies that listeners walked out on. For some it was the darkness, grit and violence of “The Dark Knight Rises” that was too much to handle. For others, it was the sound of Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor trying to sing in “Moulin Rouge.” Then there are those films that are so boring, poorly acted, or poorly written that even the most dedicated movie lovers could not make it to the end. Gordon and Boyes join Host Frank Stasio to talk about the failed plots, gratuitous sex and violence, and just plain bad acting featured in the films that caused listeners to leave the theater. Gordon is a film professor at North Carolina State University. Boyes is the film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art and the curator of the MovieDiva series at the Carolina Theater. Boyes is screening “Skyscraper Souls” on Wednesday, June 5 at The Carolina Theatre of Durham.

Interview Highlights

Boyes on choosing what films she goes to wisely:

If I know I’m going to hate something, why even go? For me there are many movies that I might have walked out of, but I just never appeared in the first place.

Gordon on the bait and switch in movie ads:

How many times do you see a trailer for something and it looks like one thing, and you see the movie and it’s something else? Sometimes Hollywood … Is to blame.


On the final reason she walked out on “Othello”:

“I really didn’t know who Laurence Olivier was, and when I saw that when you looked down his collar you could see he had white skin and he wasn’t really black. I said: This is ridiculous. I cannot believe they couldn’t find a black actor to play this role. So I simply walked out. - Listener Jean from Raleigh


On the unexpected nature of an animated art film:

“Fritz the Cat” was promoted as an art film … It was back in the 1970s. It turned out to be an animated porn film involving a cat who was a little bit too oversexed. - Listener Deborah from Holly Springs.


On the stirring performance of singer Bjork:

Bjork almost looks childlike and helpless in the film. And I just couldn’t take it and started crying like I’ve never cried before. I couldn’t see through my eyes anymore I was crying so much. It just got to the point I was so embarrassed about my crying that I had to get out of the theater. - Listener Sabine from Chapel Hill.

BLOOD OF THE BEASTS (Le Sang des bêtes)

On watching filmgoers walk out on “Blood of the Beasts”:

Eventually they all gather in the slaughterhouse where they work as butchers. And as soon as the film began to depict the killing of cows, a fairly large audience bolted for the doors as fast as they could finding the scenes intolerable until we had virtually an empty house in less than a minute. - Myron on his days as a movie projectionist.


On the poor singing in “Moulin Rouge”:

I am actually a trained opera singer, and while it’s not about the genre, I love movie musicals … The opulent sets and costumes and acting were actually all great, but these two leading stars singing for me really fell flat. -Listener Andrea of Durham


On the gratuitous violence in “Goodnight Mommy”:

I really tried to stay in the theater. I think I walked out about 15 to 20 minutes before the conclusion which is unusual because you’re so close to the end and yet there was so much violence and torture in the film I felt that I could not remain in the theater any longer. - Listener Allyson.


Dana is an award-winning producer who began as a personality at Rock 92. Once she started creating content for morning shows, she developed a love for producing. Dana has written and produced for local and syndicated commercial radio for over a decade. WUNC is her debut into public radio and she’s excited to tell deeper, richer stories.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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