Classic Scene: Falling Down

“I’m the bad guy?”

Ever had one of those days where every little thing irritates you? With each minor inconvenience just adding to the next before ultimately causing you to snap and go on a wholly unjustifiable (for the most part) rampage across L.A. during a particularly swelteringly hot day? No, us neither, but that is exactly what happens to William “D-Fens” Foster in Joel Schumacher’s 1993 thriller Falling Down. Michael Douglas plays the unemployed engineer with barely contained rage issues to perfection, and Robert Duvall is perfectly cast as the cop (due for retirement, naturally) who sets out to nab the one-man army as his last big hurrah. Foster’s musings on poverty, commercialisation and the economy of 90s America plants him firmly in the past (as does his haircut), a representation of people unwilling to change and adapt to the times. His rage about the cost of a can of Coke has less to do with the cost, and more with how America has moved on from the ‘ideal’ 60s and 70s and ultimately left him in the dust. He takes no joy in his violence, instead he seems confused moving from one confrontation to the next without actually seeking it out before ultimately realising that perhaps he is not the good guy he imagined he was. As a side note, nobody manages to capture the feeling of a sticky hot day quite like Schumacher (just check out both Falling Down’s opening, and A Time To Kill).

But did you know…

1) The film was actually shot during the L.A. riots of ‘92. Production had to be paused several times as a result, with some filming permits even being denied — what they couldn’t shoot on location was shot on Warner Bros.’ Burbank studio lot.

2) The film has inspired pop culture on numerous occasions. Most famously The Simpsons parodied the film with the character of Frank Grimes in the episode Homer’s Enemy. The Foo Fighters music video for Walk recreates numerous scenes from the film with Dave Grohl playing the Michael Douglas character, and Iron Maiden’s song Man on the Edge’s lyrics tell the story of William Foster, including directly referencing the name Falling Down.