THE FAN (1981) Yet another book from the 70s made into a misguided movie.

thefan_usposterTheme Song: There is a soundtrack of mostly orchestral stuff by Pino Donaggio.

According to the credits, there was a song called “Hearts, Not Diamonds” in the movie, but I don’t recall hearing it.

Interesting Dated References: Toward the end of the film, there is a scene filmed inside New York’s Haymarket Bar, which allegedly was one of the seediest of the mafia-run gay clubs in the early 80s. Haymarket was noted mostly for being a place where a lot of hustling went on.

Best Line: Apparently The Fan had some type of goal to deliver one of the most extreme and out-of-context lines in movie history: “Dearest Bitch, see how accessible you are? How would you like to be fucked with a meat cleaver?” To be fair, nerds on the internet say this line appeared in the book.

Social Context: Released only a few months after John Lennon was shot, I suppose America considered The Fan in poor taste. It was merely a coincidence, but still, it probably didn’t help. It also doesn’t help that The Fan isn’t all that great to begin with.

Summary: The Fan opens with one of many hilarious letter-writing voiceovers provided by Doug the Fan, played by Michael Biehn (Terminator). He rants on and on about how much he likes Sally the Actress, played by Lauren Bacall (everything). Then the director does all he can to make sure we know Bacall is famous.

We see her sign autographs, bark orders at her secretary, have fancy dinner with her ex-husband, and complain about her life as a star. Mixed in with all of this (and at a pace barely fast enough to move the plot along), we watch Doug write more letters and become mentally unhinged at responses he receives from Bacall’s secretary. We also see him dine with a picture of Sally and do some other crazy stuff.


Check it out, Doug works in a record store. A record store is like iTunes, except you had to deal directly with sociopath elitists in order to get them to tell you about the interesting new stuff coming out. Thankfully, record stores no longer exist and you can freely buy and steal music without fear of being judged by someone in their 7th year of college, or as they liked to call it “advanced studies.” Doug gets bullied at his record store job, so he quits in order to allow for more time to practice-talk into the mirror a la-Taxi Driver. Oh, and after he writes Sally a sex letter, her secretary advises him not to write again. Of course this throws him into a tailspin.


Nothing else goes on here, but some great 1980 New York street scenes. Check it out: “Wienerwald.”


So things go on, and Doug gets so mad he slashes the secretary’s face on the subway. I forgot to mention that the secretary is played by Maureen Stapleton, who was always one of my favorite actresses in the Cocoon Trilogy. The cops catch on and start trying to find Doug. This leads to a bunch of detective scenes that are boring.

Doug then slashes up Sally’s dance instructor while he’s at some weird underground pool. The paranoia sets in for Sally and her entourage.

Then the maid gets killed. Check out the single fatal slashing that causes her to die. I’ve cut myself deeper on accident at work. Doug trashes Sally’s apartment, which they didn’t really explain how he got into. After that a bunch more cops ask questions and Sally goes into hiding.



Meanwhile, Doug goes to legendary New York gay bar Haymarket and picks a guy who looks just like himself to murder in an effort to stage his own death. This is the only movie to have any interior shots of Haymarket which was one of the early New York Mob-run gay bars. They leave the bar and Doug kills the guy while receiving a blow job from him. Doug burns the corpse and writes a fake suicide letter. There are so many fucking fade-to-black scenes in the movie I’d swear it was made for television. So Sally comes out of hiding and does the big play premier. Then there’s a bunch of musical numbers! Seriously! Like 15 minutes worth!

The play ends and of course this leads to Sally being alone in the theatre with Doug who hid backstage. He tries to kill her, but she delivers some boring monologue and stabs him in the throat. Yet another book from the 70s made into a misguided movie.

Poster and Box Art: A nice, classic composition makes this poster a great piece. Of course this is an instance where the poster is way better than the movie, so it gets forgotten since no one would ever want to hang a The Fan poster in their house. Oh, and for a real fucking laugh, check out the DVD cover. I’m not posting it here because it’s pointless.

Availability: A remastered DVD came out a few years ago and should still be available.

Leave a Reply