Hollywood Boulevard (1976)

Happy Valentine’s Day, ya jerks!

Sorry, I get surly around Valentine’s Day.  And there are many reasons for that.  I always get one year older (and one step closer to sweet, merciful peace that is death) around this time of year.  I tend not to like seeing all the stupid commercials that remind me that, yeah, I’m eating for one on VD with my cats.  It’s just a general reminder of a dark, lonely existence…

But not this year!

Nope!  This year, I decided to send all you Enemaniacs a Valentine in the form of a Roger Corman-produced, Candice Rialson-starring romp called Hollywood Boulevard!  The story of this movie, though, helps make this a little more fun.

You see, Producer Jon Davidson made a bet with Roger Corman.  The bet was that he could make the cheapest film Corman’s New World Pictures has ever released.  Corman, apparently a betting man, gave Davidson $60,000 and 10 days to make the movie.  Back then, New World Pictures would usually have 15 days to make a movie.  So, Davidson had to work smart, and fast.  He brought in collaborators Joe Dante and Allan Arkush and told them what they had to do.

And they did it.

To be fair, Davidson had a couple advantages he could use.  First, to save money on film stock, he basically just grabbed the leftover raw stock from other New World movies.  Knowing he also had the entirety of the New World catalog, he decided to use pieces of other films Corman owned to fill out the movie.  Bada bing, bada boom – Hollywood Boulevard, a satire on sleazy B-movies of the 70s about a ditzy blonde trying her hand at becoming an actress and ending up on a small budget flick that is surrounded by mysterious deaths.

More importantly, we’re returning to the catalog of Candice Rialson.  She’s a favorite around these parts.  I’ve covered no less than three of her movies over the past couple years or so.  While we are definitely running out of significant movies that she’s been in, she’ll be eternal in the an(n)als of B-Movie Enema.

Alrighty…  Let’s tear the top off this flick that will likely be full of hotness, cheese, and stock footage from other movies!

We begin with a crew from Miracle Pictures filming a scene that features a team of parachute guys jumping from a plane.  Meanwhile, the producer and a topless chick tumble out of the back of the crew’s van after laying some lumber.  He wants to juice the movie with some more laughs in the crucifixion scene.  The stunt double for our lead actress has a chute that won’t open so she crashes into the ground and dies.  But like a Loony Tunes, person-shaped hole in the ground.

The director, played by Corman alum Paul Bartel, says they will need another model for another scene that needs to be shot.  PG, the producer who just got his dipstick dipped says these broads are a dime a dozen.

Enter the heroine in the life of one Geoffrey Robert Arbuckle – Candice Rialson.  She plays Candy Hope, and she’s fresh off the bus from Indiana.  At least I think it is Indiana because the song says so, and later she says she’s from Indianapolis.  Hey!  I’m from Indianapolis!  Anyway, she tries her luck at various places but finds making it in Hollywood to be pretty tough.  That is until she meets talent agent Walter Paisley, played by another Corman (and Joe Dante) regular, Dick Miller, it is also a play on his famous character in Corman’s A Bucket of Blood.  He hires her right out of the gate, but tries to send her on her way without a job.  He tells her to go out onto the streets, get noticed.  Lana Turner was discovered in a drug store, for Pete’s sake.

She meets Duke at the newsstands.  He tells her he’s in a low budget film that might have a role perfect for her.  It requires having a car, which she has.  So he takes her out to middle of nowhere and introduces her to Rico, his partner.  Her part is to be the getaway driver.  So they take her to the bank, and they say she can’t see the camera because it’s a hidden camera.  They go into the bank and rob it and even shoot the security guard.  They slip the fuzz and go out to the boondocks where Rico makes off with the cash.  He’s killed a shootout with the cops and she and Duke escape.  She slams on the breaks, and his face slams into the windshield and dies.

Got all that?  Good.  This just went from a babe looking for a part in a movie to being a Bonnie and Clyde style action picture.  And that leads to her killing the Clyde.

Dick Miller tells Candy that she’s learned herself a valuable lesson – never take a job without consulting with her agent.  He calls over to Miracle Pictures asking if they still need a stunt girl.  He sends Candy to them advertised as a stunt driver.  Here, we get to see more of Paul Martel and Mary Woronov (playing Mary McQueen), who have a special place in cult cinema for Eating Raoul, discussing her part as a woman who has broken dreams and a tough childhood having to deliver a line with all that pain, but she can only say the line one way forcing him to repeat it over and over.

Elsewhere on set, the producer is checking out the potential models for the topless scenes.  But time is money, so instead of them taking their shirts off, they just turn the hose on them.  The producer takes his favorites to the van for a romp while telling the production assistant to “keep them wet.”  After that fun little interlude of a wet t-shirt contest, Candy is told to go drive an old timey car into a hill and turn it over.  After surviving that, she goes out on a date with the screenwriter, Patrick, all to the lovely sounds of Commander Cody and His Lost Airmen.

This is ultimately a music video for the song by the band.  It’s a catchy as all hell of a song about truckin’.  But not just truckin’, but truckin’ AND fuckin’.  Because, you know, everybody’s doing it now.

Apparently, Dick Miller represents several characters, including a girl who is a roller derby player, Bobbi, as well as her friend, Jill.  He offers roles to Candy, Mary, Bobbi, and Jill, but Mary seems to turn her nose up on playing a role she’s essentially done before… until Miller says Candy will then play the lead.  Then Mary is all over it.

So off they go to be in an action movie about blowing up some Asian guys with fuckin’ machine guns and grenades.  I know the footage of the firefight is from a 1973 flick called Savage! but I wanna see the finished product with these babes blowing up these dudes because that shit looks awesome.  Anyway, Mary tries to talk to Erich, the Bartel character, about killing off the other three girls in the movie and then it gives her character an opportunity to have emotional depth.

Candy is then told she has to do a scene in which she’s gang raped by a bunch of, well, savages.  She is a little unnerved by it.  Paul Bartel tells her it will be the most sensual scene ever captured on film… and it has to be done in one take.    So the guys go in and literally ravage her and tear her shirt off and what have you while she cries in fear.  Then, it’s up to Bobbi to deliver the line of the movie, the one thing that sums up the entire core and meaning of the movie – “Get it up or I’ll cut it off!” (said while topless and holding a machete to a guy’s throat)

That night, Bobbi and Jill has a threeway with PG, which definitely makes Bobbi feel like a real Hollywood type.  Cut to Bobbi, Jill, and Candy sunbathing topless while also talking about whether or not showing your tits and sleeping with producers is really the best way to be a star in Hollywood.  Also, they are going to town on cans of Schlitz Beer.  I’m not sure what’s sexier – the topless sunbathing or pounding Schlitz.

Bobbi and Mary get into a catfight because Mary thinks the other girls are amateurs, and she’s the real professional.  However, Mary is all too happy to point out that Mary took some interesting parts when she was first starting out too.  That night, the next battlte scene plays on as scripted.  During the firefight, Jill is shot by a real gun and killed.  But, because this is the Philippines and this shit doesn’t exist there according to Mary, no one calls any authorities or reports it.

Back to Hollywood!  Dick Miller picks Candy and Patrick up to go to the “world premiere” of the movie, but it’s part of a triple feature at a drive in with some other Roger Corman movies like The Terror and Battle Beyond the Sun.  Leading up to the movie starting and during the movie, Candy gets wasted on Jack Daniels and is severely disappointed in the movie.  She decides to go for a walk.  She goes to the projection booth during her rape scene and tells the guy to “take it off” – to which she means the movie though…  Naturally, he attacks her.  Because it’s been a while since she left, Patrick and Dick Miller go looking for her, but this just leads to more shenanigans until Dick Miller finds her in the projection booth and has to beat up her attacker.

The next morning, Patrick swears to Candy that he’s going to write a part for her that will be everything she wants in a movie.  Patrick pitches his movie to PG, but PG doesn’t want to make a 1950s movie, but a movie in the 2050s.  So…  He does and this puts Candy in some Death Race 2000 footage.

This movie is obviously zany.  Like REALLY zany.  If you check back to another Candice Rialson/Roger Corman movie, Summer School Teachers, that’s a movie that gets darn zany down toward the end of the movie.  This is 83 minutes of very broad jokes about movie making.  It’s really pretty funny.  In some ways, it is somewhat like a Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker style send up, not of a particular genre, but of an entire industry.  You’ve got the stock girl who wants to hit it big in the movies.  Sleazy producers, directors, and other actors are all over this movie.  Mary Woronov is amazing as the uppity movie star that is a total bitch to everyone, but can’t let anyone else have any spotlight.  This may be the most direct example of the exploitation genre of the 70s.  This is all about seeing car chases, explosions, war scenes, and tits.  There’s only a loose story to tie things together and it’s really an amazing feat to have been able to pull this off the way Dante and Arkush did with all the money Jon Davison had to make good on the bet.

I have to wonder what would have happened if Davison couldn’t make the movie?  Knowing everything we know about Roger Corman, I cannot imagine he would have just grinned and been okay with it.  Okay, maybe he would have accepted winning the bet but given Davison more time to finish the movie.  Still, though, he had to have been incredibly confident in Davison to pull it off or he would have just said no to the bet.

So let’s go back to that loose plot.  There are people showing up dead in past productions, and when a car chase scene was set to film with Candy and Bobbi, their car had no brakes and they were nearly killed.  Bobbi is convinced to stay on the picture despite her concern for her safety, others’ safety, and the general shittiness of Miracle Pictures’ movies.

Bobbi is woken up in the middle of the night to come in for reshoots.  She shows up where the film was being shot, but no one is around.  That is until a cloaked figure shows up in the fog.  Bobbie thinks it is Candy, but the figure pulls a knife and starts hacking away and slicing her on the arm.  She runs away from the attacker but eventually gets caught and stabbed to death.

Candy thinks Mary is to blame for the deaths.  She is mostly glad to be done with it all.  Patrick thinks it is kind of interesting to still work for Miracle and that leads to Candy going back to their place to pack and move out.  She finds a key to a shed that has all the plans laid out to mess with the parachute and then bump off Jill, Bobbi, and Candy.  When Patrick says it looks like she’s next on the list, Candy takes off.  Dick Miller calls Mary to ask if she’s seen Candy, he reveals that maybe they were going to supposed to meet at the Hollywood sign.  Suddenly, Mary decides to head out there to find her.

Thanks to the camera being turned on while Bobbi is getting killed, everyone sees that Mary was the one killing the other girls.  Patrick goes to the Hollywood sign to stop Mary from killing Candy.  Mary starts chopping the wire holding the Y up on the sign when Patrick starts shooting at her.  She attacks Candy but when Patrick holds the gun on Mary to stop, she not only axes his leg, but also gets his gun so she can now shoot Candy.  She delivers an iconic line just before she fires, “You’ll never be a star now, you little cunt!”  But just then the Y snaps and crushes her.

Patrick turns this into a movie that makes Candy a star.  It also makes Dick Miller rich and he tries to recruit Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet for a remake of Gone with the Wind.  During the credits, a bunch of stills from the productions and little additional bits are played, including this gem of Candice Rialson marrying Godzilla while Paul Bartel directs the magical moment and Jonathan Kaplan (yeah, the director of The Accused and Unlawful Entry) looks on from about ass-height.

This is a very fun movie.  If nothing else it is a neat experiment to see how a $60k and a week and a half would yield.  There’s a lot of jokes about making movies that play on things that just about everyone knows – particularly when it comes to how female talent is handled.  There’s also an Ed Wood style feel to the idea that people are making trash but they honestly believe in it even if it doesn’t all quite work out the way he envisioned it.  I was also quite unprepared for how attracted to Mary Woronov I am in this movie.

Naturally, this all seems quite quaint now that we have learned more and more about the seedy behind the scenes grab ass going on by producers.  However, there is a kind of innocence to this send up of the casting couch and the sleazy side of grindhouse schlock.  I’m not saying this is something Roger Corman or Joe Davison did themselves, though I do suspect if there was a topless scene in a movie, they probably did have to ask girls to take their shirts off or provide pictures.  What I’m saying is they were part of the B-movie exploitation world and they had to have heard stories from actresses or what have you.

And, come on, most of us over the age of 30 or so are not so naive to think the world of movie making is all sunshine and rainbows like we see on our nicely shot, pristine in presentation extras we now get on our DVDs.  It’s gotten to the point that when we hear someone is unhappy about something in a movie, it’s a scandal.  That shit happened forever until movies became these sleek, conveyor belt productions.  Actors are artists.  And we artists have short fuses – especially if our mocha chai lattes are not served at the proper motherfucking temperature.  It makes us go a little crazy at times and the only way to fix it is to kill people.  That’s all I’m saying.

Well, let’s put this one to bed, kiddos.  Again, Happy motherfuckin’ Valentine’s Day.  If you are one of the lucky few who have someone to wine and dine tonight, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do – up to and including catching VD.  That shit don’t wash off in the shower.  Next week, I will be looking at the classic women-in-prison flick which also the first film by Academy Award winning director Jonathan Demme – Caged Heat!

But, before we close out, here’s one last Valentine for you…  Candice Rialson squatting with a goddamn tommy gun blowing some motherfuckers to oblivion!

Now that’s what I call sexy as fuck.

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