Risky Business Crystal Egg


Risky Business, released in 1983, features Tom Cruise as his mother, who has an expensive Steuben glass egg on her mantelpiece that mysteriously vanishes, only to reappear moments later unnoticeably damaged and just in time to appear again later that same season in episode 18 of the OC series. This same egg also appeared in season two, episode 18 of this television show.

Though it appears similar, this egg from the movie does not precisely replicate its form or angle.

The Story

This Steuben glass egg became iconic as part of its role in Paul Brickman’s 1983 film Risky Business, featuring Tom Cruise in his breakthrough role and Rebecca De Mornay making her film debut.

This film follows a high school senior as he encounters a call girl while his parents are away on vacation. Cruise is widely considered his breakthrough role, and its influence can be felt today; similar comparisons to The Graduate have been drawn due to its sexual themes.

A memorable scene from the film involves a mother’s Steuben glass egg disappearing mysteriously from her mantel before reappearing just in time, seemingly stolen but later returned as risky business.

Although primarily seen as a teen sex comedy, this film contains subtle social commentary. Although not commercially successful upon its initial release, the movie has since attained critical acclaim and garnered critical acclaim among critics and audiences alike, specifically De Mornay and Cruise being particularly well received for their performances. Nominated for numerous awards, including a Golden Globe Award nomination and Best Picture Oscar consideration, its timeless tale remains popular today and can now be purchased on DVD and Blu-ray formats.

The Setting

The Steuben glass egg, featured prominently in the 1983 film Risky Business, was manufactured by a company that has been producing American-made crystal for more than one hundred years. Renowned for their quality and craftsmanship, Steuben art glass products are known worldwide. Unfortunately, however, due to a 108-year-old legacy, they are struggling to remain in business, with the Corning New York plant having closed on November 29th, 2012. As of now, the fate of this beloved American brand remains uncertain.

Paul Brickman made his feature directorial debut with Risky Business, written and starring Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay. It follows Joel Goodsen (Cruise), a tightly wound Chicago teenager who breaks out through sexual adventures with Lana (De Mornay).

Contrary to many films of its time, this movie depicted sexual work with great care and consideration. While another film may have made fun of its portrayal of Black men wearing drag or trans people taking advantage of Joel, this one showed her as simply being a beautiful young woman with challenging ambition and incredible intelligence.

The Steuben glass egg also debuted on The O.C. during an episode in 2005 where Ryan Atwood and Seth Cohen volunteer to participate in an antique charity auction when Trey Atwood (Logan Marshall-Green) stole it before selling it online for a profit. Ryan and Seth later found themselves recovering it and intending to present it to its eventual auction winner.

The Plot

Joel, a high school student, finds himself alone when both his parents go away for the weekend, and his unsavory friend Miles (Curtis Armstrong, aka Booger from Revenge of the Nerds) sets him up with Lana – an exotic call girl who soon becomes too much for Joel financially, leading her to steal from Joel his mom’s arty Steuben glass egg as payment and ultimately leading them down a dark path of sexual encounters, drugs, and murder.

Satire and social commentary in this teen sex comedy is impressively deep; it has withstood the test of time. Freudian symbolism can also be found here – particularly when Joel smokes cigarettes to indicate his phallic power.

Fans of The O.C. may remember a scene in which Ryan and Seth Cohen attempt to retrieve a glass egg from its captors; unfortunately, the egg used on-screen differs substantially from its counterpart from Risky Business; its dimensions are about three times smaller, although it still looks very realistic! It makes for an entertaining scene.

The Characters

Risky Business stands the test of time better than its 80s counterparts (Private Lessons and Revenge of the Nerds) due to writer/director Paul Brickman’s focus not as much on the loss of virginal innocence as loss of moral virtue, thus resulting in its dark undertone.

Character development was impressive in this novel. Each one is an engaging force to reckon with: Miles excels at exploiting Joel’s vulnerabilities and quickly feeding his id, while Lana is no less dangerous despite her beauty as an attractive sex worker – she is more seductive than Miles, which plays into her character development as well as its development.

As far as the crystal egg goes, I found its theft and loss quite realistic in this film. Additionally, several symbolic moments add depth and dimension. For instance, Ryan and Seth managed to catch it like a touchdown pass as its original Orrefors glass egg broke during its destruction during the storyline.

However, the original egg was smaller than the replica seen in the movie. It’s still impressive, though, and would make an incredible addition to any collection – I wish I had enough money! For anyone interested in adding one to theirs, please follow this eBay link and explore your options.

The Scenes

An undercurrent running through the film is that for growth to happen, chaos must prevail – a sentiment symbolized by the egg as a symbolic representation. Once proudly displayed on Joel’s mother’s mantel, this ornate crystal egg becomes central to Joel’s story when Lana steals and then throws it away, serving as a stark reminder that even seemingly flawless objects often hide internal frailties that cannot be overlooked.

The Cohens are one of the film’s most sympathetic characters – middle-aged antique dealers volunteering at an auction to support a local hospital. At first, they try to bid up Summer’s shoes and Trey and Seth’s services until finally giving back an egg purchased by one of these ladies helping out their auction!

It is clear why Tom Cruise made such an impactful debut performance as Frank Brickman wrote and delivered a fantastic script, and all actors gave outstanding performances in this movie, which perfectly captures what high school life can be like, not only during the early-80s but throughout its existence; all characters are well developed with intelligent dialogue that keeps audiences guessing – there is just an air of uncertainty pervading each scene that draws all characters closer together.

Steuben Glass Company, makers of the iconic egg, went bankrupt in 2013 and closed their last factory in Corning; crystal production still exists under its 108-year-old vanity brand name. Unfortunately, no revitalization plans appear imminent for its business.