Actions

Work Header

How Riley became Smiley

Work Text:

Oh, I do not like all these crossovers. I never understood why people combine characters from different universes and write about them. To say the least, this is unrealistic. Roughly speaking, this is far-fetched. That is the way I used to think. I am taking my words back, because now I am going to prove that the universes of two movies of the VHS era, «Never Too Young to Die» and «The Adventures of Ford Fairlane» are somewhat similar. In my opinion, they are united by a supporting character. He is far from the main character, and not a hero at all (in the positive sense of the word), but he is quite colorful, such a petty funny sleazebag. In «Never Too Young to Die», Riley fits this description, and in «The Adventures of Ford Fairlane», Smiley does. Why does the author speak of them as one person? Here are the reasons:

1) The aforementioned characters have the same actor. Robert Englund played in various movies of the eighties, but the bulk of the audience knows him as Freddy Krueger from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (I just say that for you to get the idea). Many actors seek to make their characters different from each other visually. This is not the case for Robert. In many movies he looks similar, only the clothes and accessories of his characters change. Both Riley and Smiley wear leather clothes, though the first one only has a jacket and tie, and the second one has a whole suit made of leather. I will tell you about the theory connected with this below.

2) Their names are similar. In fact, Smiley has no name; it was Ford Fairlane who gave him such a nickname for the habit of laughing constantly. That is an ordinary English word, an adjective, the basis of smile- plus the suffix -y. These are just the subtleties of word formation, why did the author even touch on this topic? That is because Smiley is called that way in the movie credits. I mean, officially.

3) They have similar characters (mainly in terms of emotions). Riley is a modest man but pretty smiling. Smiley got his nickname for a reason: he laughs a lot and is always in a cheerful state. People around them do not consider them particularly smart, rather, morons, which is expressed in attitude to them.

4) Both Riley and Smiley are antagonists and confront the good characters — first Lance Stargrove, then Ford Fairlane. They are not the main villains of their movies, but only assistants or hired workers of their bosses who are related to the musical environment. Both have problems with the law, as their activities are either carried out in the public eye or known to the state - in this case, to the United States.


The first movie the character of which I will talk about is Never Too Young to Die. It is a cheap action movie that failed at the box office but became a classic of B-movies. What do we know about Riley? He appears only in three or four scenes and spends a maximum of five minutes on-screen but that is enough. Riley is the henchman and possible lover of terrorist Ragnar, the «mad scientist» as he is called in some articles. He works for one to make money and is a specialist in computers. According to the plot, Riley's mission was to write a program that would poison the Los Angeles’ water supply and create an environmental disaster. What for? That is another question. Ragnar openly terrorizes the government and Riley is involved in his plans, so I mentioned that he has problems with the law. Riley is quiet, well-educated, close to the boss, he looks most civilized among punks — for these reasons he is not favored. At the same time, even if he evades violence, he observes its perpetration and behaves... Like a blockhead. Just like other members of the gang.

After half the movie in the scene in Ragnar's shelter, we get the first information about the existence of Riley. It becomes clear that it is he who is behind the creation of the program on the stolen disk. In that scene, he sits in front of large computer screens and explains to Ragnar how the canyon reservoir functions. Riley is in his late thirties, he wears a beard and has already begun to go bald. His clothes consist of big glasses, a bolo tie, a letterman sweater, a white shirt, regular jeans, and boots. Not a style icon but compared to the boss, he even looks decent.

Ragnar is distracted by the incoming punk who was sent to get the disc back. Not satisfied with his failure, he kills the punk by cutting the jugular artery. The body is dragged away by fellow gangs. All this time Riley stands nearby slouching, staring at the floor as if he was out of business. At the sight of Ragnar, he straightens up, allows himself to be embraced and continues the explanation of the scheme, looking maniacally at the disfigured fish. He calms down suspiciously quickly. This may indicate a strong and blind attachment (or affection) to Ragnar, as well as moral degradation of the individual.

The second scene shows the triumph of punks in the shelter. Riley who is holding a goblet sits upstairs near Ragnar. His boss broke with his past at the CIA and is ready to notify the world about himself. Here you can see some changes in Riley's clothes: he is wearing a leather jacket instead of a sweater. He enthusiastically looks at Ragnar, finishes the wine from his goblet, and together they watch punks mock the main characters. But the rape show does not take place: Lance snatches up a machine gun and shoots the crowd with arrived CIA agents, so Ragnar and Riley have to hide in the «bunker», the closed part of the shelter. The third scene is very short: Riley answers Ragnar's questions, gives him a case with remote control and they run away before the military finds them.

It is necessary to stop and clarify here: I am talking about the peculiar progress of the character, and this applies to clothing. This topic is important because one’s character and lifestyle affect one’s appearance. That jacket instead of the sweater is Riley's only visible change. We can assume that the character gradually joined the gang, became one of the punks. Note: if he agreed to work for Ragnar who loves leather and chains, it is unlikely he would not have to adopt the style of the crowd and himself.

Regarding this, I have a theory. The gang lives in robberies and looting (including breaking into shops and private houses), and punks along with the leader may take things they like with them. Riley is very close to Ragnar who allows him a lot. Ragnar could well give him unnecessary men's clothing because he has become «his». Riley, in turn, did not mind.

In the last scene, the fourth, they, surrounded by punks with machine guns, run to the truck to hide and implement the plan. Riley has to go with the boss but is scared of the main characters' shots and rushes to the side, two machine gunners close him. He shouts to Ragnar about an important detail, Ragnar thanks him, sends the punk on a motorcycle to cover the truck from bullets and leaves. Lance shoots him and Danja shoots the machine gunners behind whose backs Riley was hiding.

Riley tried to escape but after the killing of guards, he (or his body) was not shown, although he was quite close to them. How likely is that they missed him? That is unlikely. Danja shot at close range. Instead, it would be logical for the CIA to seize Riley and interrogate: he had important information. That is another plot flaw. Nevertheless, Danja with captain Grady returns to the military, which means there is no one else to kill or catch. Riley either died or hid at the right time.

I suggest assuming that Riley survived. Partly because my theory is built on that, and partly because of the unclear death and a certain detail. For several years I have thought that Ragnar shouted to him: «Goodbye!», but turns out there were other words in the subtitles. That is, he did not say goodbye to Riley and did not think that this would be the last meeting. So, Riley pretended to be a corpse and fled with minor injuries, then hid for some time, possibly in another country. Somehow he managed not to be found by the CIA and not go to jail. But years go by, 1990 has come and we move on to the second movie.



The Adventures of Ford Fairlane is a comedy that «may be offensive to men, women, animals ...» and everyone else. What about Smiley? He appears more often than Riley and spends more time on-screen. Smiley is the nameless mercenary of Julian Grendel, the movie's antagonist. Grendel is a record executive and knows the key to the mystery Fairlane, «rock and roll detective», is investigating. Since he is employed in the music industry, several mercenaries carry out his work to eliminate objectionable people. Smiley is the most memorable and tenacious of them. He is in his forties; he constantly laughs, speaks a certain British dialect and is in a state of manic joy for most of the screen time.

When Ford Fairlane gets on Johnny Crunch's yacht, he tries to figure out the cause of his murder by looking at the evidence. He goes to the closet and opens the door, but among the medicines, he is met by the smiling face of a stranger in a BDSM collar who exclaims: «Ello-ello!». Ford closes the door but the future Smiley punches it, gets out and tries to beat him up. Quite an original appearance. We can see his clothes: in addition to the collar, Smiley wears swimming overalls, wide bracelets, and biker gloves. There is an X-looking scar between his eyebrows. How did Smiley get on the yacht? That is unknown. Meanwhile, Ford tears a shotgun off the wall and shoots at the vessel's walls, aiming at that agile stranger. It all ends with Ford putting a TV on his head, making him get out of sight underwater.

The next time we meet Smiley when he grabs Zuzu Petals with the same «Ello-ello!». He is dressed in a chauffeur suit to merge with the crowd, but the collar is visible under a white shirt and a small braid hangs from the back of his head. Smiley and Ford have a chase on hearses; it is when Smiley gets his nickname. He behaves cheekily and giggles wildly. In response to the mention of Ford's assistant, he says he is «looking forward to raping her» at Ford's funeral. Smiley shoots at his hearse from a machine gun and knocks down the tombstones, but loses control of the car, and it falls into a freshly dug grave. Miraculously survived, Smiley hides away.

In the third scene, Ford and Zuzu are in the room of Julian Grendel who aims to get the third disc. He is not going to torture the heroes to find out information; instead, he is going to torture Ford's favorite guitar. Smiley walks up to his boss and hands over the instrument. His clothes have once again changed to a leather shirt, black sleeveless shirt, chaps (cowboy pants) over black jeans with chains and a lash on the belt, suspenders with rivets and short cowboy boots. Smiley gets up next to Grendel’s chair, leans against its back and gives him a folding knife. He hooks up a drill and with a sly smile looks at Ford who is not allowed to escape by the mercenaries. Later Smiley sits on the back of the sofa, embracing a guitar and pretending to play it. He seems to love rock culture. By Grendel's order, he runs to open a window for him to throw the guitar off, walks around the room and tries to beat Ford up again. Ford de-energizes the building and runs to the roof with Zuzu.

The main characters are trying to escape from «Capitol Records» by descent along its facade. This scene is not too informative. Smiley, who has taken the chain on a collar into his mouth, is trying to push Zuzu, Ford stops him. He decides not to kill one since he sees a ring on his finger that is important for the plot. As a result, «good» characters save themselves and Smiley, having ceased to hold on to Zuzu, falls on the piano carried below and breaks it in pieces.


In the final scene, Ford returns to his burnt-down house. The hero has experienced a lot in recent days. He thinks he was finally left alone when he feels the gun barrel behind the head and hears the familiar: «Ello-ello ...». Smiley, wounded and in torn clothes, wants to kill him. Because of the ring on his finger, Ford does not want to kill Smiley: that ring used to be worn by his friend Kid's father. Without lowering the gun, Smiley admits that he stole it from an «idiot» he has strangled a year ago. That is, he has been involved in crime for at least a year. Ford convinces him to drop the weapon and fight «mano a mano». He agrees but takes out a knife from his bosom. Ford laughs at this: «What kind of idiot drops his gun?» and shoots Smiley from his one. Unkillable Smiley is killed.


The time has come to summarize the aforementioned. The general theory with the author's additional thoughts looks like this:

The 1980-s, XX century. Being a programmer and hacker, Riley worked for the CIA during the heyday of computer technologies. He was a valuable middle-aged worker, well trained but with his vices, a rather quiet marginal. Because of his self-confidence, curiosity, and love of money, Riley wanted to steal a couple of millions from the state and shift the blame on his unloved colleagues but did not have time. After observing Riley, a man named Carruthers did this before, substituting him. Now he was threatened with jail. Carruthers realizing that he would be useful made him work for terrorist Ragnar in exchange for protection and money. Riley appeared in a new environment, noisy and cheeky, which was new to him. Riley's beliefs and values began to change. Ragnar defended him from punks, although he did not like him for arrogance and periodic drinking. For a couple of years, their relationship has ceased to be purely working, and they got used to living with each other. Ragnar developed a new plan to terrorize the government. Together with «Carruthers», the boss' alter ego, Riley gathered information and conducted experiments to understand how water poisoning would affect Los Angeles residents. The needed program was written, a few days remained before the plan was implemented, but Ragnar’s temporary lover stole a floppy disk and handed it to the CIA. Thanks to the punks, it was returned to Riley. Victory seemed to be in their hands. Having completed the plan, they planned to escape to Mexico and further overseas with the boss and gang, but that did not happen. The punks' shelter was invaded by the CIA, Riley pretended to be dead and hid away, and Ragnar was killed. Taking someone else's passport, Riley flew to the UK where he joined a small biker gang and got an X-carved scar on his forehead. His sadistic inclinations became visible with the naked eye there: he became a part of S&M culture, wore a lash on his belt and took part in street fights, sometimes beating people to death. Riley has changed a lot. He managed to erase all the CIA information about himself, broke with computer hacking and a few years later returned to the USA. There he became a mercenary of Julian Grendel. Riley loved music, the job of eliminating the boss’s ill-wishers was easy for him. They were not too close, but Riley liked being commanded, as if during their lifetime with Ragnar. That was until Ford Fairlane became Grendel's enemy. Riley, who received the nickname "lucky" for his vitality lost his luck. He died after having lived a vibrant life.


Robert Englund himself said that he successfully plays best friends. Not the main characters, not villains, but friends, someone's assistants. I believe that Robert is right, and he looks very believable in playing them, he loves it. The two characters told about above are only part of his roles. I just tried to combine their stories and destinies into a whole, into a single person's story. This theory is nothing more than a fan idea, but it does have a right to exist.