What Do Jesse Spano And Eddie Winslow Have In Common?

Is it A) They were both secondary sitcom characters on hit shows?

Is it B) Both roles brought their respective portrayers to the peaks of their careers?

Or is it C) The actors who played these roles were both impacted by the work of writer Joe Eszterhas?

If you guessed D) All of the above, then you thought outside of the box to answer this question. Blue Peter badge for you!

Could this REALLY have been in the script?

Most people know that Elizabeth Berkley’s failed attempt to break free of her teen sitcom past came at the hands of Eszterhas, who wrote the screenplay for Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls.

Although Eszterhas immortalized himself by writing one of the RAZZIE’s Top Ten Best Bad Films of all time, he also created the script for Darius McCrary’s movie debut in the 1987 buddy drama Big Shots.

In Big Shots, a white boy from suburban Chicago named Obie (Ricky Busker) flies into a pre-pubescent rage after the death of his father and bikes into the wrong part of town. When he gets mugged, the most important possession he has gets stolen: a wristwatch that his father gave him.

That’s when Obie meets Scam (McCrary), who’s also routinely harassed by the muggers. Scam offers to help Obie get the watch back—for a fee—and their partnership develops into a friendship during which Obie, in turn, helps Scam find his father.

If you’re waiting for me to talk about how bad this movie is, then you should quit reading. Although you probably haven’t seen Big Shots, it’s a lot better than it has any right to be, especially for a movie so schmaltzy in the father-son love department. I happen to be into that type of thing, so I stand by it 100%.

Some noteworthy highlights:

"I SAID it's fun to do bad things!"

—   Big Shots may be one of the first films to show kids doing hoodrat stuff. Obie and Scam’s friendship takes shape as they steal cars and drink with beers. Latarian Milton and his friend have nothing on Obie and Sam. Latarian made it to Wal-Mart a few miles from home. Obie and Sam made it from Chicago…to LOUISIANA.

—   Any fan of obscure character actors will appreciate Robert Joy as the imbalanced second to the movie’s European villain (yeah, they work that into all this), Paul Winfield as a two-bit watch fence named Johnnie Red and Joe Seneca as the wise old ferryman.

—   If you look closely, you’ll see the same guy who played Blossom Russo’s drug-addicted brother Anthony (Michael Stoyanov) as one of the street punks.

As easy as it is to laugh at the career of the man who wrote cloudy gems like Basic Instinct and Basic Instinct 2, credit must go to Eszterhas for also writing better movies earlier in his career like Big Shots and Norman Jewison’s F.I.S.T. Those early achievements call into question whether Hollywood simply ate Eszterhas’s soul over time, forcing him to make lemonade out of studio lemons…trashy trashy lemonade served out of a beaver shot glass with pasties on it.

About lemarmclean

I am a writer born and raised in New York City.

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