Listen Up, Buckaroos

Would I sound crazy if I claimed the closing credits were the best part of Buckaroo Banzai? Probably. Besides, unless someone has watched the whole movie the credits just look like another 1980s men’s fashion commercial. But they are the best part, just the same.

Moviefone interviewed director W. D. Richter about the credits in 2011

Moviefone: To this day, the end credits of ‘Buckaroo Banzai’ make me very happy. Where did the idea for the end credits even come from?
W.D. Richter: Well, actually, an unlikely source was [producer] David Begelman, who was really our enemy for the entire movie. He was the guy who said, “Go ahead, you can make this movie,” but he never got it on any level. And so, when it ended just with a kiss, he said, “it needs something else.” And we had no money, at all, at that point. And he said, “I’m going to pop for some sort of choreographed ending that we can talk about.” We got a choreographer in because there was no way I would know how to movie around all of those people. So it kind of emerged from the end of the postproduction.

My high opinion of the credits was simply based on the music, the choreography, and ultimately, my desire to see more of these characters.

But once I started replaying this video over and over, like a favorite old 45, I noticed a couple of things for the first time —

(1) Seven characters meet at the base of the dam and start marching. Penny Priddy and John Bigbooté join them. That’s nine. Then there’s a cut, everybody turns left at the wall — and suddenly there are 16 or 17 people marching!

(2) Also Perfect Tommy comes out of the left turn wearing a completely different outfit. (Perhaps one that’s more perfect for walking in front of walls?)

Another character’s change in appearance requires no magical explanation because we see him shucking off his jacket.

Heaven only knows what else I’m missing.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

13 thoughts on “Listen Up, Buckaroos

  1. Yes to all of the above! That info about David Begelman is a bit surprising though — how very strange that someone with such a deep antipathy for the film nonetheless added something so great to it.

    Also, the sequence was lifted by Wes Anderson for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Funny thing though, when you watch those closing credits after watching the Banzai credits, the effortlessly cool Peter Weller makes the normally laid-back and cool Bill Murray seem stiff and awkward by comparison. Not saying that as a knock against Murray — it’s just that if there’s a hierarchy of zenlike serenity, Dr. Banzai is at the top of it.

  2. What is the location that they’re walking around in? What is all that cement? If you recognize it as a dam, that suggests that you know where it is; it just looks to me like the underparts of some large highway construction.

  3. When Buckaroo comes off his rappel down the wall and you get the head shot, he could be the 11th Doctor’s older brother; jacket and bow tie, similar head shape, etc.

  4. Agreed, the end credits are the icing on the cake.
    (3) If you look closely at the wall you’ll see the ghostly image of a previous attempt to write Buckaroo Banzai’s name in gaff tape.

  5. I wouldn’t say the end credits are the best thing in the movie, but I agree with Jeff Warner that they’re sweet icing on the cake.

    The sequence is very reminiscent of the opening to TV’s Tales of the Texas Rangers (1955-1958). Here’s a link to a clip. Ranger Jayce Pearson begins walking down the street of a Texas town, toward the camera. A chorus sings the stirring theme song, to the tune of “The Eyes of Texas Are upon You.” Ranger Clay Morgan falls into step beside Pearson. Presently more Rangers march the picture from both sides of the screen. Then more. Pearson and Morgan are leading a phalanx of brother Rangers, marching right into the camera.

    I wonder whether I am allowed to embed a video clip here? I will attempt to make it appear below.

  6. I find both sequences reminiscent of the ending production number of A Chorus Line.
    The real (stage) version — I don’t remember what they did when they filmed it.

  7. A nice question: The end credits announce a sequel. Do you thing 1) there really was going to be one or 2) they just put it there because that was what you put in thirties-serial style movies?

  8. Apparently there were plans for a tv show:
    “IN THE WORKS The director of the 1984 cult sci-fi comedy “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension,” W.D. Richter, is turning it into a weekly television series called “Buckaroo Banzai: Ancient Secrets and New Mysteries.” Fox has commissioned a pilot script for the show, which will follow the continuing adventures of the rock star/brain surgeon and his cohorts as they battle interplanetary baddies.”,,84009,00.html

  9. Unfortunately I can’t fix the link, which works if copied into the URL window. WordPress keeps “correcting” my format every time I save the code.

  10. I think it was either Michael Okuda or Rick Sternbach who linked to an animation intended for the proposed television series showing the Jet Car being used to save a Shuttle Orbiter with a landing gear problem, synchronizing speeds on the runway and the orbiter nose-gear nestling into the jet car pickup bed.

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