Former Entertainment Weekly writer Melissa Maerz dives deep into director Richard Linklater's cult classic in new book Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused.
DAZED AND CONFUSED, Matthew McConaughey, 1993, (c) Gramercy Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection
Credit: Everett Collection

Melissa Maerz was 15 when she first saw Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater’s beloved 1993 movie about a group of teens’ last day of high school. “Even though it’s set in the ’70s, I was watching as if it was a preview of my future,” she says. “I’d never kissed anyone, I’d never had a beer, I’d never driven around in a car all night.”

After college, Maerz embarked on a career as a journalist, including a stint at Entertainment Weekly, but she never lost her love for Linklater’s film. Her debut book is Alright, Alright, Alright (published Nov. 17), an oral history of the movie, whose deep-bench cast of then-up-and-coming actors includes Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, and Renée Zellweger.

“I think if I was writing a book about a different movie, no one would have talked to me,” says Maerz. “I interviewed Ben Affleck and he called it one of the most profound creative experiences of his life. I mean, this is a guy who’s won Oscars! They’re just really nostalgic for that era. For a lot of them, it was the moment right before they got really famous. It was the last time they could just be kids in this super creative environment that Linklater created for them and have this amazing summer where they’re getting high, hooking up, and improvising scenes.”

Speaking of improv, the book’s title borrows the iconic ad-libbed line uttered by McConaughey’s louche older character Wooderson. “He was listening to this Jim Morrison record and Morrison was saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright,’” says Maerz. “He thought of it as the three things his character was setting out to get: girls, a car, and weed.” Well, alright.

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Alright, Alright, Alright: An Oral History of Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused

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