Joe Dante (1984’s Gremlins) and Allan Arkush (1979’s Rock ‘n’ Roll High School) cut their teeth in Hollywood putting
together trailers for Roger Corman films in the early 1970s and got the idea to
make their own film by piecing together stock footage from other Corman pics
and shooting a story around the clips. Armed with $55,000 from Mr. Corman, Hollywood
Boulevard is the result. Released in
1976 on a smattering of screens, Hollywood
Boulevard is a charming and entertaining send-up of Hollywood filmmaking
which stars the incomparable (and sadly, the late) Candice Rialson as Candy Wednesday, a fresh-off-the-bus
naïve blonde who, at the ripe old age of twenty-four, wants to be an actress
and walks straight into the office of agent Walter Paisley (Dick Miller). His advice to just go out and walk the
streets and be seen is taken quite literally, and she finds herself suckered
into the middle of a bank robbery while assuming that it’s a movie being shot
(that old gag!). It takes Candy some
time to see through the bank robber’s real intent, but amazingly it does not
seem to faze or dissuade her from getting into showbiz. Eventually she manages to hook up with a
ragtag group of performers who work for Miracle Pictures – their motto is “If
it’s a good movie, it’s a miracle!” They
are making a film called Machete Maidens
of Mora Tau II, which is directed by a campy and pretentious director named
Erich Von Leppe (Paul Bartel) who orders around his leading lady (Mary Woronov).
Unfortunately for her, she is replacing
an actress who died on the set while Machete
Maidens was being shot! Could the
same fate befall her? Candy, now doing
stunts for Miracle Pictures, catches the attention of Patrick (Jeffrey Kramer
of Jaws), a writer, and they begin a
passionate affair while making films. A
series of misadventures follows when the crew goes to the Philippines to shoot.
There is a hilarious bit where Candy, Walter, and Patrick view their finished
product at the old Gilmore Drive-In in Los Angeles. Candy eventually becomes a
glamourous film star and Patrick a successful screenwriter.
Hollywood Boulevard was shot in August 1975 in Los Angeles
over a period of ten days(!) and is a film clearly love sonnet to the industry. There are street shots of Grauman’s Chinese
Theater (Ovidio G. Assonitis and Robert Barrett’s Beyond the Door is on the marquee!), while another theatre boasts Jaws and Dog Day Afternoon. Can you
imagine that there was a time in this country when you could go a theatre and these two films would be playing at the
same time? Try finding any theatre
nowadays boasting films half the
caliber of these two titles. The Pussycat
Theater offers Fred Donaldson’s Sometime
Sweet Susan to those adventurous enough to head through the doors (Martin
Scorsese’s Taxi Driver was being
filmed during the same time in New York City and Susan is on a marquee in that film, too). The film is loaded with silly action that the
low budget would allow and ADR-looped lines abound.
Releasing has done a wonderful job of transferring Hollywood Boulevard. With
the exception of two brief streaks down the left side of the frame early on the
transfer, the 2K scan of the film’s inter-positive is a revelation, easily the
best the film has ever looked. There are
some nice extras on this edition, which is limited to 1,500 copies: the
feature-length commentary with directors Joe Dante and Allan Arkush and producer
Jon Davison has been ported over from the 2001 DVD release. Even if you are not a fan of the film (how
can you not be?!), the commentary is worth the price of the Blu-ray alone as it
has a terrific insight into the manner in which low budget filmmaking at New
World Pictures was done in the 1970s. Director Dante is very engaging and hilarious to listen to, recalling
with amazing swiftness which films the scenes were culled from, and funny
anecdotes about the scenes and how and when they were shot.
are also a handful of brand new on-screen interviews with:
Joe Dante (15:26) He quite correctly
points out that despite the fact that more movies are available for viewing now
than ever before, younger audiences don’t know about these films (foreign and
the like) because they haven’t been exposed to them.
Allan Arkush and Jon Davison (15:23) are
very funny to listen to, discussing how they came to direct and produce
respectively Hollywood Boulevard and
how they met Jeffrey Kramer and came to cast him.
Mary Woronov (11:18) speaks zealously
about her time working for New World Pictures.
Roger Corman (7:00) reiterates how
little money it took to make the film and how much he genuinely loves it.
Kramer (13:16) gets a decent amount of screen time here, reminiscing about his
early days in the film industry, and tells a very funning anecdote about the
premiere of his TV series Struck by
Lightning in which he co-starred with Jack Elam. I liked this show which debuted on Wednesday,
September 19, 1979, but I was also ten years-old, and after a total of three
episodes it was cancelled due to low ratings.
Drake (3:30) was the assistant cameraman and talks about the perils of shooting
up near the Hollywood sign.
Blu-ray also contains the original theatrical trailer and an edition of Dante’s popular Trailers From Hell.
would have loved to have seen a tribute to the late actress Candice Rialson,
who passed away in 2006 at the age of 54 from liver disease. She appeared in
Raphael Nussbaum’s controversial exploitation/social commentary film Pets in 1973, the 1974 movie-of-the-week
The Girl on the Late, Late Show and a
series of three exploitation films, Candy
Stripe Nurses, Mama’s Dirty Girls,
and Summer School Teachers, all in
1974. She was a real trouper and is
spoken of highly by Jeffrey Kramer as a kind and funny person. She is deserving of her own documentary.
Machete Maidens of Mora Tau II is a film that I really want to see,
and it would have been wonderful if it was actually made (a la Machete (2010) being born from Grindhouse (2007).
Hollywood Boulevard again suddenly
made me think of David Lynch’s Mulholland
Drive (2001), with Naomi Watts’s wide-eyed Betty leaving the parking lot of
LAX to “make it in the movies”. Candice
Rialson was a wonderful film personality and truly deserved to go on and enjoy
success in the Dream Factory.
(Note: this title appears to have sold out quickly though some dealers on eBay are offering it.)