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  Hollywood Boulevard Making Movies
Year: 1976
Director: Allan Arkush, Joe Dante
Stars: Candice Rialson, Mary Woronov, Rita George, Jeffrey Kramer, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, Richard Doran, Tara Strohmeier, John Kramer, Jonathan Kaplan, George Wagner
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Pretentious film director Erich von Leppe (Paul Bartel) is directing the last action scene of his latest low budget epic, which stars Mary McQueen (Mary Woronov), when tragedy strikes: the stuntwoman's parachute fails to open and she falls to her death, leaving a large hole in the ground. Meanwhile, Candy (Candice Rialson) arrives in Hollywood with dreams of making it big in the movies as an actress, but is turned down just about everywhere. The only person to offer a ray of hope is agent Walter Paisley (Dick Miller), who admits he has no work for her at the moment, but suggests she wander around Tinseltown and get better known - the streets are full of casting directors and producers, so it's only a matter of time before she is given a role. However, her first excursion into showbiz isn't what it seems...

Written by Danny Opatoshu under the name of one of the characters, Hollywood Boulevard was reputedly made as a bet to film the lowest budget movie in the shortest time. Two of producer Roger Corman's editors at the time, Allan Arkush and Joe Dante, were keen to make the jump to film directing and this was their big chance. As they were skilled in the cutting room, they had the opportunity to insert scenes from other Corman productions to pad out the running time and further the plot, so don't be surprised to recognise bits of The Terror or Death Race 2000 in there while you're watching. The two were big movie fans, and so the film is stuffed with references and in-jokes in a cruder fashion than that which Dante would continue well into his career.

Naive Candy's first acting job is in fact as a getaway driver for a couple of bank robbers, and she only realises all too late what's really going on as she's driving away at high speeds. After ditching the criminals and her car, she returns to Paisley a little wiser and he offers her a job as a stuntwoman for lowly studio Miracle Pictures, whose motto is "If it's a good picture, it's a Miracle!" Miracle make the kind of exploitation movies that Corman's New World were making, so it's amusing to see the conventions of his efforts sent up. Candy does well as a stuntwoman, and is given a job as an actress, just as she wanted, in an Erich von Leppe action movie produced in the Phillippines. Along with the cynical Mary, Candy is joined by Jill (Tara Strohmeier) and Bobbi (Rita George), together filling the machine gun toting roles.

For the most part Hollywood Boulevard is a cheerful comedy set in the world that Arkush and Dante, and the cast, knew only too well. The actors seem to be enjoying themselves, and there is gratuitous nudity and a wet T-shirt scene throughout the first half hour to keep your attention amongst the middling jokes. Then a change in tone creeps in which has you thinking, "Is this still supposed to be funny?" The hapless Jill is gunned down during the climactic sequence of mayhem and nobody can tell if it was an accident or not. Still, the show must go on, and Candy, scriptwriter boyfriend Patrick (Jeffrey Kramer) and Paisley attend the film's premiere, which appropriately is at a drive-in - no red carpet, then. It is here that Candy is almost raped in the projection booth, in between the gags revolving around the patrons, but she's saved by Paisley.

As an indication of how tiny the budget was, Arkush and Dante had obviously resorted to driving around and shooting the city; there's at least a couple of minutes where Candy and company get lost on the way to the drive-in and we get travelogue footage instead. But it becomes clear there is a killer on the loose when Mary is almost killed in an explosion while performing in a stunt, and the film turns serious, with a graphic murder of one character that seems out of place compared to the previous fun-filled frolics. Candy could be the next victim if she 's not careful, but who could the killer be? Whoever it is, they have a date with the Hollywood sign, in another example of the inventiveness behind Hollywood Boulevard, which gets by on goodwill and an honesty about its intentions. Plus there are all those in-jokes to endear it to film buffs, and Robby the Robot for good measure. Music by Andrew Stein, and an appearance by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Allan Arkush  (1948 - )

American television director who got his break working on films for Roger Corman: Hollywood Boulevard (co-directed with Joe Dante), Deathsport and Rock 'n' Roll High School. During the eighties he moved into TV, but directed a few features: Heartbeeps, Get Crazy and Caddyshack II.

Joe Dante  (1946 - )

American director of science fiction and horror, a former critic who got his big break from Roger Corman directing Hollywood Boulevard. Piranha was next, and he had big hits with The Howling and Gremlins. But his less successful films can be as interesting: Explorers didn't do as well as he had hoped, but illustrated the love of pop culture that is apparent in all his work.

Other films include flop sequel turned cult favourite Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Innerspace, the underrated The 'burbs, Matinee (a more obvious tribute to the movies of his youth), Small Soldiers, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, The Hole and Burying the Ex.

 
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