Hardcore (1979 film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hardcore is a 1979 American drama film written and directed by Paul Schrader and starring George C. Scott. Writer-director Schrader had previously written the screenplay for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, and the films share a theme of exploring an unseen subculture.


Jake Van Dorn (Scott) is a prosperous local businessman in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A single parent, Van Dorn is the father of a seemingly quiet, conservative teenage girl, Kristen, who inexplicably disappears when she goes on a church sponsored trip to California.

Eventually, Van Dorn learns that his daughter ran away and has entered the world of pornography in Los Angeles. The story is an odyssey of the upright and uptight Van Dorn as he journeys through the seedy world of pornography in California. Having no luck with the authorities, Van Dorn retains the services of a strange private detective, played by Peter Boyle, to locate his daughter.

Fed up with no results from the PI, or the police, a desperate Van Dorn ends up posing as a porno movie producer in the hopes that he will unearth information about his daughter. Along the way, he enlists the aid of a sometime porno actress/hooker named Niki, played by Season Hubley. The two form an uneasy alliance as Nikki helps Van Dorn navigate his way through the maze of smut from Los Angeles to San Diego and to San Francisco, eventually discovering that his daughter may be in the hands of a very dangerous porn player who deals in the world of "snuff movies".

The film takes its time in setting up the universe that Van Dorn populates so the contrast and juxtaposition of his entry into the world of porn in California is justifiably shocking. The film thrives on the edge of a dark humor, taking its subject matter neither too lightly nor too seriously. The supporting cast is often regarded as excellent, including both Boyle and Hubley.

Writer-director Schrader had previously written the screenplay of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and the films share a theme of exploring an unseen subculture. One major criticism of the film at the time was that it utilizes the same sensationalistic elements of sleaze that it is attempting to criticize and comment upon.



Golden Berlin Bear

Paul Schrader

In Popular Culture

George C. Scott's dramatic screams of "Turn it off!" have become a popular sound drop on the Opie & Anthony radio show and a recurring riff on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hardcore (1979 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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