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Film / Tough Guys Don't Dance

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"Oh man, oh God! Oh man, oh God!"
Tim Madden
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Tough Guys Don't Dance is a 1987 crime mystery film noir drama film written and directed by Norman Mailer based on his novel of the same name.

Tim Madden (Ryan O'Neal), a former bartender and ex-con, currently struggling to make a living as a writer and who is prone to blackouts, awakens from a two-week bender to discover a tattoo reading "Madeline" on his arm, and a bloodbath in his car. He shortly finds a woman's severed head in his marijuana stash in the woods. He then must flash back to the events that led to this, with the help of his former girlfriend Madeleine (Isabella Rossellini).


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This film contains examples of:

  • Big "OMG!": The "Oh, man! Oh, God!" from Tim.
  • How We Got Here: The film begins with Tim waking up from his bender and going back to his steps to find out what happened.
  • Off with His Head!: Tim finds a woman's severed head alongside him, which really puts a lot of pressure on his What Did I Do Last Night? dilemma. Soon another severed head turns up, that of Patty Lareine.
  • Title Drop: The film features one early on when Time ask his father Dougy about his drinking:
    Dougy: Six months ago, they told me to stop or I was dead. I stopped. Now the spirits circle around my bed and they tell me to dance. I tell 'em, "Tough guys don't dance." They answer me, "Keep dancin'."
  • Voiceover Letter: Madeleine is heard in a voiceover when Tim is reading her letter about her husband having an affair with Tim's wife.
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  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Tim wakes up from a blackout to find himself in a strange situation, included a woman's severed head.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: In most scenes, Patty Laraine's accent sounds like an exaggerated southern Belle type voice. In others, particularly the scene where she first meets Tim, the accent is closer to "stroke victim." In fact, there is a stroke victim in this film who is more intelligible.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Madeleine's husband and Tim's wife had an affair with each other.

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