What Does “The Chair Is Against the Wall” Mean?

What Does “The Chair Is Against the Wall” Mean?

If you have ever seen the 80s action flick, Red Dawn, then you are probably familiar with the phrase “The chair is against the wall,” as it is a pretty common quote from the movie. But do you know where exactly the term came from or what it means? 

In Red Dawn, the meaning of “The chair is against the wall” was never actually revealed. However, in the movie, it was used as a radio code to relay a message to listeners. This was a reference both to the war movie The Longest Day and to actual codes that the French Resistance used in the same manner during World War II. 

This article will explain the phrase “The chair is against the wall” as it is used in the movie Red Dawn. It will also compare the phrase’s significance to The Longest Day and World War II. Keep reading to learn all about the meaning of “The chair is against the wall.”

Everything You Need to Know About Red Dawn 

What Does “The Chair Is Against the Wall” Mean?

Red Dawn is an action and war-type movie that was released in 1984. The film was written by John Milius and Kevin Reynolds and produced by John Milius. The original screenplay written by Reynolds was called Ten Soldiers. MGM bought the script but wanted to make some changes, so they hired Milius to help rewrite parts of the script. 

MGM wanted to make the film more teen-oriented than the anti-war style in which the script was initially written. Therefore, they had to choose a cast to speak to that generation. The cast of Red Dawn includes Charlie Sheen, Patrick Swayze, Powers Boothe, Lea Thompson, and Jennifer Grey. 

The plot of Red Dawn is that a group of the Soviet Union and Cuban communists have invaded the United States, and this caused World War 3 to happen. A group of high school students dub themselves the “Wolverines” and decide to fight back against the intruders. 

The movie received mixed reviews from the media and critics. However, it still managed to build a cult following and has remained a popular film since the 1980s. A slightly less popular remake of the original movie was released in 2012, starring Chris Hemsworth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

What Exactly Does “The Chair is Against the Wall” Mean?

What Does “The Chair Is Against the Wall” Mean?

Despite the mixed reviews it originally received, Red Dawn still made quite the impact on pop culture. The film and quotes from the film have been referenced in several other movies and television shows, including Hot Tub Time Machine, SEAL Team, South Park, and Stranger Things. 

There are also references, or Easter eggs, relating to the film in the video games Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Freedom Fighters, and Homefront. 

However, one quote from the movie often confuses people because they are unsure what it means. The quote is, “The chair is against the wall, the chair is against the wall. John has a long mustache, John has a long mustache.” What chair are they referring to? Why is it against the wall? What is the significance of the chair being against the wall?

This quote is part of a longer message that the Radio Free America station announcer delivers. While the specific meaning of the phrase still remains a mystery, we do know that “the chair is against the wall” is a code that was intended for the audience listening to the broadcast, particularly the resistance fighters (the “Wolverines”). 

The phrase was meaningless to the Soviet invaders or anyone who was not part of the resistance fighters. The Soviets may have been clever enough to figure out that it was code for something, but they would not know who exactly was on the receiving end of the message and what secret message the code was conveying to them. 

On the other hand, the resistance fighters heard the message and knew something big was either about to go down or already going down. They then understood to be alert and be prepared for anything.

Where Did “The Chair is Against the Wall” Come From: The Deeper Meaning Behind the Phrase

What Does “The Chair Is Against the Wall” Mean?

What is even more impressive about the use of “The Chair is Against the Wall” in Red Dawn is the history behind the phrase. The phrase is a nod to the classic 1962 war movie The Longest Day. The Longest Day is based on the real-life D-Day, where the Allied troops invaded Normandy during World War 2 in 1944. 

In The Longest Day, there is a scene in which a radio message is played, and it contains a French phrase that is translated to “John has a long mustache” in English. Does this sound familiar? It should, since it is the exact phrase included in the coded message in Red Dawn, and it was not an accident. 

Milius changed the first part of the phrase using “The chair is against the wall” instead of “Molasses tomorrow will bring forth cognac,” which was used in The Longest Day. Milius intentionally included this phrase to pay homage to the classic war film. In the movie, this message alerted listeners that the Allies were about to invade Normandy. 

Even more fascinating is that while the Red Dawn phrase is a nod to the words used in The Longest Day, the use of the term in the latter film was based on actual events. During World War II, BBC radio in London incorporated secret messages and code words for Resistance groups into their broadcasts. 

There were several resistance groups, and each group had its own set of codes and meanings. Therefore, one message might be meaningful to one group but meaningless to another. 

Most importantly, these messages had no meaning to the German troops. If they did hear the messages, they most likely could not decode them. However, if and when they did figure out the messages were code, they probably figured it out too late, and the plan would have already been carried out.

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Voice Film and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.