Friday, July 12, 2019

R.I.P. Dick Miller, Part IV: 1974-76


25 Dec 1928 – 30 Jan 2019

The American thespian treasure known as Dick Miller, one of our all-time favorite character actors, entered the Great Nothingness on January 30th, 2019.
A Bronx-born Christmas Day present to the world, Miller entered the film biz doing redface back in 1956 in the Roger Corman western Apache Woman (trailer). He quickly became a Corman regular and, as a result, became a favorite face for an inordinate amount of modern and contemporary movie directors, particularly those weaned and teethed in Corman productions. (Miller, for example, appears in every movie Joe Dante has made to date.)
A working thespian to the end, Miller's last film, the independent horror movie Hanukkah (trailer), starring fellow low culture thespian treasure Sid Haig, just finished production. In it, as in many of Miller's films, his character is named Walter Paisley in homage to his first truly great lead role, that of the loser killer artist/busboy Walter Paisley in Roger Corman's classic black comedy, A Bucket of Blood (1959).
What follows is a multi-part career review in which we undertake a meandering, unfocused look at the films of Dick Miller. The films are not necessarily looked at in the order of their release... and if we missed one, let us know. 

Go here for
R.I.P.: Dick Miller, Part I (1955-60)
R.I.P.: Dick Miller, Part II (1961-67)
R.I.P.: Dick Miller, Part III (1968-73)


TNT Jackson
(1974, dir. Cirio H. Santiago)

Like so many Roger Corman productions, TNT Jackson is in the public domain (and available to download at the Internet Archives), which explains why so many DVDs out there offer such bad quality. But crappy quality of not, the movie is a hoot… and not just due to all the hooters.
Over at Filmlink, they list TNT Jackson as one of Dick Miller's "Top Ten", saying: "Miller's not actually in this film — a blaxploitation kung fu movie — but he did write it. It's silly fun, and probably could have used Miller's presence in the cast. Miller had ambitions as a writer, and did a number of screenplays, only a few of which were made. They include this and the Jerry Lewis film, Which Way to the Front? (1970, see Part III)."
This blaxploitation trash classic was directed by the Filipino auteur Cirio H. Santiago (18 Jan 1936 – 26 Sept 2008), a man with numerous truly fun crappy films to his name. Rumor has it that Dick Miller only submitted the original first draft, after which a dissatisfied Roger Corman had it rewritten — assumedly by Ken Metcalfe, the credited co-scribe. Oddly enough, when TNT Jackson (or at least its basic plot) was retooled and remade with a butt-kicking white woman lead seven years later as "the screen's first erotic king fu classic", Firecracker (1981 / trailer / poster above), Santiago's regular co-conspirator Ken Metcalfe got a co-writing credit but Dick Miller didn't. Retooled again 12 years later with less breastage as Santiago's Angelfist (1993 / trailer), neither Metcalfe nor Miller were given credit, all of which went to Anthony L. Greene.
TNT Jackson:
All that aside, T.N.T. Jackson makes the average Pam Grier exploiter look like a Shakespeare production — but that is part of the film's attraction. TNT Jackson (aka Dynamite Wong and TNT Jackson and Dynamite Jackson) features "your typical 'deadly woman out to get revenge for her brother's death at the hands of drug dealers' plot that you exploitation fans should all be familiar with now. T.N.T. Jackson (Jeannie Bell) touches down on the tarmac in Hong Kong and immediately sets out to her brother's old stomping grounds, which of course happens to be in the worst part of town. So bad in fact, that the first thing she sees when stepping foot in the area is a bare-breasted woman fleeing from a drooling rapist. Within minutes, T.N.T. is already kicking the shit out of a gang wielding balisong knives. The fight is typically slow and clunky as these films usually go, but ends on a high note as T.N.T. breaks some guy's arm while blood gushes out of his elbow… fantastic cinema! Soon T.N.T. makes it over to her brother's old residence, a karate dojo named Joe's Haven. There she meets… Joe. Joe (Chiquito [12 March 1928 – 2 July 1997]) is a resourceful man who seems to have the lowdown on all the town gossip and is also very passionate about hair dressing. Joe agrees to ask around town and causes a major shitstorm when he sparks the ire of the local mob, who were already very nervous about T.N.T.'s presence in the first place. Meeting the mob bosses in a nightclub, she eventually befriends their right hand man, Charlie (Stan Shaw)..."
The above plot description fails to mention babe number two of the movie, white chick Elaine (Pat Anderson), girlfriend of Sid (Ken Metcalfe of Beast of the Yellow Night [1971 / trailer], The Twilight People [1972 / trailer] and Up from the Depths [1979 / trailer]), the mob boss. She and T.N.T. insult each other like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford on a bad day, beat the shit out of each other, and then join forces…
The movie is possibly the film debut of the eternally watchable but always underappreciated and underused actor Stan Shaw: "The real scene stealer […] as the sartorially splendid kung fu heavy who Jackson beds, bothers, and then beats to a pulp. He is simply put, pretty terrific. Even if he refuses to believe Jackson will be trouble since she's such a fine sister in a place where there are almost no other black people. But why is she in Manila anyway, really? His thinking is cloudy, but who can blame him? [Academic]"
"T.N.T. Jackson is a blast from start to finish. Plenty of wonky fuzzed out seventies music compliments the big hair and bad fashions just perfectly while Santiago keeps the movie zipping by at a remarkably quick pace. […] There's not much to the story here and what plot there is really just seems there in order to move the film from one badly choreographed martial arts scene to the other but that just adds to the zaniness of the whole thing. Throw in a ridiculous amount of gratuitous nudity, some awesome tough-talking dialogue from our uber-sexy soul sister leading lady and some recycled music, and you've got yourself a hell of a good time at the movies. [DVD Talk]"
"There are moments in TNT Jackson where it really earns its exploitation bonafides. Sights like the titular badass (Jeannie Bell) wearing only a pair of panties (which change color from black to white and back again at one point in the scene) taking part in an awkward, badly choreographed hand-to-hand fight scene feels like it was lifted wholesale out of the mind of a twelve-year-old boy who fantasized about what kind of R-rated movies showed at the drive-in he was too young to attend. [Grindhouse]"
Indeed, special mention must be given to Jean Bell, born Annie Lee Morgan, who plays the eternally frowning babe-asonic T.N.T. Jackson. The second Afro-American Playboy Playmate of the Month ever (October 1969, see below), she had many small and a few large parts in films like Disco 9000 (1977 / tv spot), Policewomen (1974 / trailer), The Muthers (1976 / trailer), Melinda (1972 / trailer) and Three the Hard Way (1974 / trailer), both with Jim Kelly), and Trouble Man (1972 / trailer) before disappearing from the screen in 1977. In 1986, she married multimillionaire Gary Judis, of Aames Funding Corp.
The original artwork to the TNT Jackson film poster way at the top, of TNT in virginal (?) white, is by John Solie, whose website has gone dead — a bad sign, to say the least. The artwork — or at least the image of TNT — got reused, incongruently, for the later psychotronic blaxploitation flick Darktown Strutters (1975), which we look at further below.


 Summer School Teachers
(1974, writ. & dir. Barbara Peeters)
 

"You give an inch, the guy takes two, you find out he only has three, and you end up with zero."
Sally Hanson (Pat Anderson)

Barbara Peters, who was the 2nd unit director on Kaplan's The Student Teachers (1973, see Part III), took over the script and directorial chores for this, the follow-up teachersploitation flick. Dick Miller is there again, playing the sexist Head Coach, Sam, who at least isn't a rapist (see: The Student Teachers); you even see him in the trailer. The film was made at a time when female teachers sleeping with their younger students didn't raise too many eyebrows. 
Trailer to
Summer School Teachers:
Over at imdb, woodyanders has the skinny on writer/director Barbara Peters: "Writer/director Barbara Peters was one of the few female filmmakers who specialized in entertainingly trashy low budget drive-in exploitation fare in the 70s and early 80s. Peters often worked for Roger Corman's B-flick studio New World Pictures. She made her feature debut as co-writer and co-director of the soft-core lesbian outing The Dark Side of Tomorrow (1970 / trailer below). Barbara followed this movie with the gritty distaff biker item Bury Me an Angel (1971 / trailer), the amusingly silly comedy Summer School Teachers, and the enjoyably inane Starhops (1978 / full film). Peters achieved her greatest notoriety with the wonderfully nasty horror creature feature winner Humanoids from the Deep (1980 / trailer)." After directing the last, a violent sleaze classic if there ever was one, Peeters moved into TV before leaving to found her own firm in Oregon, SilverFoxx Films, an embarrassing name if there ever was one, and has specialized in "business and music promotional videos".
The original artwork to the Summer School Teachers poster, like the TNT Jackson film poster is by John Solie, whose website has gone dead — a bad sign, to say the least. 
New trailer to
The Dark Side of Tomorrow:
While Summer School Teachers does emulate Corman's classic 3-babe structure, noticeable here is the total lack of a the mandatory minority teacher usually found in his films — perhaps the scriptwriters figured that a minority from Iowa would be difficult to believe. Instead, the semi-social plotline went to lily white Rhonda Leigh Hopkins as the teacher who gets involved with a troubled youth… who really doesn't look all that much younger than she.
The "plot": "Summer School Teachers concerns three gals from Idaho going to teach at Regency High in Southern California, where they have three interwoven adventures: gym teacher Conklin T. (Candice Rialson [18 Dec 1951 – 31 March 2006]) battles hyper-macho coach Sam Johns (Dick Miller) to start a girls' football team; chemistry teacher Denise Carter (Rhonda Leigh Hopkins) seeks to clear the name of a misunderstood juvie; and photography teacher Sally Hansen (Pat Anderson) gets involved with a pornographer. All three girls end up suspended from teaching after a series of bizarre events: there's a big conspiracy involving payola, a porno scandal, and a kidnapping at an abandoned warehouse. It all comes to a head — as such films must — at the big football game, which becomes an all-out brawl as various protest groups and do-gooders clash for liberation. The closing theme is a rallying cry for activism. [Robert Finching at All Movie]"
"Brimming with mischief, nudity and teenage rebellion, the picture epitomizes a night at the drive-in. There's the underdog, all girls team, determined to prove that they can play football as good as their boyfriends; the misunderstood loner who is being framed for a crime he didn't commit; the instant comradely of the girls as they go undercover to seduce and trick the overbearing, chauvinist boy's coach; and the scene where Sally is eavesdropped on by a pair of dirty old ladies after hooking up with a bonafide movie star, played by Michael Greer (20 April 1943 – 14 Sept 2002), is absolutely priceless. Summer School Teachers has a bit of everything. It may not be fantastic, but it's one fun flick. [DVD Drive-In]"
"One of the biggest problems […] with Summer School Teachers is that it's considerably light on any exploitation elements. I mean, each of the three girls only gets naked ONE time apiece.  What's up with that, yo?  Another big fault is that the plot is weak and the girls' storylines come together in a rather sloppy fashion.  It also doesn't help that the flick is heavily padded with dune buggy chases and scenes of girls playing football. Summer School Teachers isn't a complete waste of time though.  I don't know about you, but I'd sit through just about anything to see Rialson naked, so the movie's many flaws didn't really bother me too much.  [The Video Vacuum]"
Candice Rialson's (18 Dec 1951 – 31 March 2006) cinema career may have been short, but she's found in some interestingly psychotronic movies, namely Raphael Nussbaum's Pets (1973 / trailer) and, most famously, Tom DeSimone's Chatterbox! (1977 / trailer). Michael Greer, one of the first openly gay actors in Hollywood, was also pretty much stereotyped to only gay parts after his film debut in The Gay Deceivers (1969 / trailer). He participated in two softcore sex films, The Curious Female (1970 / trailer below) and Diamond Stud (1970), as well as the oddly interesting, if aimless, The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970 / trailer) — Don Johnson's feature film debut — and the cult fave, Messiah of Evil (1973 / trailer). 
Trailer to
The Curious Female:
 


Candy Stripe Nurses
(1974, writ & dir. Alan Holleb)
 

"Your mother blows goats!"
Obnoxious Spectator(Dick Miller)

  
Candy Stripe Nurses is the fifth and final nurse film of the Corman Factory nursesploitation series, and this time around Dick Miller has but a small part as an obnoxious spectator in a crowd scene (you see him for second at the end of the trailer). 
Candy Stripe Nurses:
The original artwork to the Candy Stripe Nurses film poster, like that of the TNT Jackson and Summer School Teachers posters, is by John Solie, whose website has gone dead — a bad sign, to say the least.
As the Chicago-raised director Alan Holleb explains in Francesco Borseti's It Came from the 80s!: Interviews with 124 Cult Filmmakers: "Roger Corman and his wife Julie had seen a short film, a musical [entitled Heavenly Star], I had directed at UCLA, and so they contacted me about working on Candy Stripe Nurses." It took Holleb another eleven years to finally make his follow-up film, the far less entertaining comedy School Spirit (1985 / trailer, written by Geoffrey Baere), a film that probably would not be greenlighted nowadays.
In any event, at Inside Pulse, Joe Corey has the plot: "Candy Stripe Nurses wraps up the series by getting younger than the Young Nurses (1973, see Part III). Three high-schoolers find themselves volunteering at a local hospital for different reasons. Maria Rojo ("Marisa Valdez") is a troublemaker who gets in trouble. She has to either put on the candy stripe rope [sic] or face a harsher punishment. Her time on the ward involves a patient arrested for robbing a gas station (Roger Cruz). She wants to prove the guy is innocent. Candice Rialson ("Sandy") likes banging a doctor (Richard Gates, of The House of the Dead [1978 / full movie]). But she also flirts with other patients including rocker Owen Boles (Kendrew Lascelles). Robin Matson ("Dianne") gives her time to build up her chances to get into med school. She takes an interest in a basketball player (Rod Haase) that's doing drugs during games. Dick Miller is a spectator at a basketball game."
"Writer/director Alan Holleb benefits from having what's arguably the best-looking trio of stars in this set.  Plus, Rialson, Mattson, and Rojo all turn in credible and very appealing performances (Mattson went on to a long career in daytime soaps, but this was Rojo's only screen credit), miles ahead of the acting seen in Private Duty Nurses (1971, see Part III), to name just one.  While following the same formula, Holleb actually manages to establish some character development and succeeds in finding just the right balance between comedy, drama, action, and sex.  Also with Rick Gates, Bill Erwin, Tara Strohmeier, Monte Landis, and repeat appearances by Don Keefer, Sally Kirkland, and Dick Miller as a boorish basketball spectator, getting popcorn poured over his head by the impossibly cute Mattson. [Good Efficient Butchery]"
Though unknown in the US, candy stripe nurse Maria Rojo went on to a long and successful career in Mexico, while candy stripe nurse Robin Mattson had a long career in daytime soaps, usually as the scheming blonde. And although he hardly shared a scene with her, basketball player Rod Haase was in two Robert Levy films featuring the great Uschi, If You Don't Stop It... You'll Go Blind!!! (1975 / full film) and Can I Do It 'Till I Need Glasses? (1977 / trailer).
Though Corman never produced another nurse film, nurseploitation, as a genre, sputtered onwards for a few more years, reaching what could be its most memorable nadir in Al Adamson's incredible "horror" disasterpiece, Nurse Sherri aka Black Voodoo (1978 / trailer below), released the same year that the prolific porn director Bob Chinn — the inspiration for Burt Reynolds' character, "Jack Horner" in Boogie Nights (1997 / trailer) — released his porn comedy, Candy Stripers (1978 / credit sequence / review). 
Trailer to
NurseSherri a.k.a. Black Voodoo (1978):


Big Bad Mama
(1974, dir. Steve Carver)

In 1971, while studying at the American Film Institute, 26-year-old Steve Carver made a B&W short film version of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. Roger Corman saw it and hired the director to cut trailers at New World Pictures, before finally giving him a directorial project, the Italian-shot The Arena (1974 / trailer),* the second Margaret Markov and Pam Grier exploiter after 1972's Black Mama, White Mama. Pleased with Carver's ability's Corman then gave him this movie, Big Bad Mama. Dick Miller is there as treasury agent Bonney; he also did the voiceover of the film's original trailer.
Also of note: William "The Ham" Shatner is there as the second male lead, William J. Baxter, and cult fave Royal Dano (16 Nov 1922 – 15 May 1994, of Killer Klowns from Outer Space [1988 / trailer]) shows up as Rev Johnson. A hit, it took Corman over 13 years to make a sequel, the relatively abysmal Jim Wynorski-directed Big Bad Mama II (1987 / trailer further below).
* Spurred by the success of Gladiator (2000 / trailer), in 2001 Roger Corman produced a cheapo D2V remake in Russia, also entitled The Arena (trailer), by the then-unknown Russian director Timur Bekmambetov  (Wanted [2008 / trailer] and Nightwatch [2004 / trailer]), starring the (natural) breasts of Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. 
Full short —
The Tell-Tale Heart:
The script to Big Bad Mama came from the pens of Frances Doel and the interesting personality known as William Wallace "Bill" Norton (24 Sept 1925 – 1 Oct 2010), the latter of whom also scripted the memorably titled Harry Novak-distributed I Dismember Mama (1972 / trailer) and William Girdler's trash classic, Day of the Animals (1977), with Leslie Nielsen. About writing Big Bad Mama, Norton once said (at the blogspot Stone Cold Crazy): "[…] Roger Corman was a nice guy to work with. His wife was a nice person. My wife and I had lunch with them here in Santa Barbara. There was a lady who worked for him, Frances Doel. I had a pleasant relationship with her. She was the office person. Frances gave me the copy of this story, which was, as she later used the terminology, on the road, on the run movie. The story was that, and I didn't know she had done it, but she had promoted the story with Roger, and so that became a project. So I turned that into a screenplay. When things were over, I talked with Frances and with Roger Corman, saying that the story for this, I didn't invent the story, and therefore, the credit should be a story by so-and-so, whoever he is, and then the screenplay by Bill Norton. Well, it turned out that Frances was the writer of it. I felt happy about that, that I had done, what would you say, is kind of a morally correct thing, which is to credit another writer for what they have done. We became kind of mildly friendly off and on. She felt grateful for it because she'd never had a screen credit of any kind, and she liked that. So she was the writer of the story and I wrote the screenplay and Steve Carver directed it. He seemed like a nice, talented, good guy. I don't recall being involved with rewrites on the set, or any of that kind of stuff." 

Trailer to
Big Bad Mama:
Through a Shattered Lens, which says "Big Bad Mama is a typical Corman gangster film, with fast cars, blazing tommy guns, Dick Miller, and plenty of nudity", has the plot: "The year is 1932 and the setting is Texas.  Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) is a poor single mother with two teenage daughters (Susan Sennett and Robbie Lee) to support.  When Wilma's bootlegger lover, Barney (Noble Willingham [31 Aug 1931 – 17 Jan 2004]), is killed by the FBI, Wilma takes over his route.  Wilma wants her daughters to be rich like 'Rockefeller and Capone' and soon, they graduate from bootlegging to bank robbery.  During one robbery, they meet and team up with Fred (Tom Skerritt).  Wilma and Fred are lovers until Wilma meets alcoholic con man, Baxter (William Shatner).  With Fred and Baxter competing for her affections and her youngest daughter pregnant, Wilma plans one final job, the kidnapping of a spoiled heiress (Joan Prather)."
"If you ever wanted to see Angie Dickinson have explicit sex with Captain Kirk, then this classic trash is for you. […] Even though there are a few appreciated barbs at capitalism, the script is generally pure junk food. This is trash par excellence, moving from between sex and violence with a lightning pace. While the supporting cast includes Tom Skerritt, William Shatner, and cult favorites Susan Sennett (The Candy Snatchers [1973 / trailer]), Robbie Lee (Switchblade Sisters [1975 / trailer]) and Dick Miller, this is Dickinson's show all the way. She brings gusto to her strong-willed and independent matriarch role, handling a tommy gun with ease and also giving some choice nude scenes showing off her amazing forty-something body. [Teenage Frankenstein]"
As seen by the advert above, found at Scenes from the Morgue, at least at the Grand Island I Drive In, Big Bad Mama was at one point screened on a double bill with the far more obscure Andy Sidaris (20 Feb 1931 – 7 March 2007) flick, Stacey aka Stacey and Her Gangbusters (1973 / trailer), starring Playboy Playmate of the Month (May 1967), Anne Randall (original centerfold below).
Despite the fact that Big Bad Mama was a hit, it took Corman over 13 years to make a sequel, the relatively abysmal Jim Wynorski-directed Big Bad Mama II (1987 / trailer below), in which only Angie Dickinson returned. 
Trailer to
Big Bad Mama II (1987):


Truck Turner
(1974, dir. Jonathan Kaplan)

Aka Black Bullet. Director Jonathan Kaplan followed up his 1973 blaxploiter The Slams (see Part III) with yet another blaxploiter, one which has since become to be seen by some as a minor classic of the genre. To quote what is written at YouTube: "Jonathan Kaplan's badass starring vehicle for musician Isaac Hayes is simply one of the all-time greatest blaxploitation movies, which came out near the end of the cycle and never garnered the reputation it deserves. Don't tell us John Woo never saw the crazy hospital shoot-out at the end!"

The soundtrack, by the film's titular good guy star, the great Issac Hayes (20 Aug 1942 – 10 Aug 2008), is definitely an underappreciated classic of the genre. (Hayes, by the way, made his feature film acting debut in this movie.) Here at a wasted life, we have to admit that when we first saw this flick, we were shocked to see Star Trek's undeniably hot Lt Uhuru (Nichelle Nichols), in her only blaxploitation film credit, playing one bad-ass evil bitch of a whorehouse mother named Dorinda. She totally rocks! A remake of Truck Turner has been in development hell for years now…

Trailers from Hell on
Truck Turner:
The first version of the screenplay, written by Leigh Chapman (29 Mar 1939 – 4 Nov 2014), the woman who wrote the fun action flick Dirty Harry Crazy Mary (1974 / trailer), was meant to feature some big name white guy, but when none could be had, the script got retooled as a blaxploitation flick. About her original script, she once said in an interview, "It became a blaxloitation film … about pimps and whores, right? I don't think any of that was in my script and I'm not sure why I even received a story credit. I used Jerry Wilkes [as a pseudonym].  That's part of my ex-husband's name, but not the entire name. I was invited to the screening and recall telling Freddie [Weintraub] that there was so little left of what I wrote that they could still do my script and no one would recognize it." Of the two guys who rewrote her script, Michael Allin and Oscar Williams, the latter wrote and directed two Jim Kelly vehicles, Hot Potato (1976 / trailer) and Black Belt Jones (1974 / trailer), and the infamously hilarious anti-drug blaxploiter Death Drug (1978 / freakout).
Dick Miller shows up to play bails bondsman Fogarty, who hires Truck (Hayes) to track down a bail-skipping pimp named Gator (Paul Harris [15 Sept 1917 – 25 Aug 1985], an event that acts as a catalyst for the rest of the plot...
A description of which One Sheet Index has in full: "Two tough, modern-day bounty hunters, known in contemporary language as skip-tracers, Truck Turner (Hayes, of Uncle Sam [1996]) and his partner Jerry (Alan Weeks [1948 – 10 Oct 2015]), wind up a rough assignment capturing a child-molester for their employer Nate (Sam Laws [26 Jan 1924 – 16 March 1990] of Sweet Jesus Preacherman [1973 / trailer] and Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde [1976 / trailer]), the bail-bondsman. Their plans for a well-earned rest are interrupted by Fogarty (Miller), another bondsman whose erstwhile client Gator (Harris), pimp, strong-arm man and a three-time loser, has skipped leaving Fogarty bankrupt if he's not apprehended. Accepting the assignment reluctantly, but at a much higher-than-normal fee, Truck and Jerry set out to comb the underworld jungles for their prey. They encounter immediate resistance and active opposition from Gator's top girl, Dorinda (Nichols). To get a line on the elusive Gator, Truck turns for help to an old friend, retired pimp Duke (Scatman Crothers [23 May 1910 – 22 Nov 1986] of The Shining [1980 / trailer]), who informs him of antagonism between Gator and Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto of Friday Foster [1975 / trailer]), suave head of organized crime in the city. [...]"
"[...] In the ensuing hunt and exciting chase Gator is killed and, in revenge, Dorinda takes a contract on Truck's life with Harvard Blue, offering herself and her stable of girls as a reward. Truck manages to elude or overcome every local killer sent after him and is in seclusion, enjoying life with his girl Annie (Annazette Chase of Chamber of Horrors [1966 / trailer] and Black Fist [1974 / trailer]), an habitual shoplifter whom he is trying to rehabilitate. In desperation, Blue sends for some highly professional killers from out of town. They manage, through dint of torture, to arrange an ambush for Truck in Nate's office. Intoxicated and temporarily unable to respond, Truck, recognizing the urgency in Nate's voice, gets Jerry to answer the call and to hold the fort till he can get there. When Truck does arrive on the scene he finds the lifeless body of his partner, and Nate nearly dead from the beating he has sustained. Truck Turner then becomes a cold, deadly machine, bent on vengeance. He causes Annie to be framed on a shoplifting charge, feeling that she will be safer in jail. Then he ruthlessly sets out on a trail of elimination which eventually leads him to Harvard Blue and Dorinda."
"Easily one of the most violent and politically incorrect movies ever made, it is also one of the best of the blaxploitation genre. Truck Turner brazenly defines everything that makes the genre immensely fun to watch. There's lots of 70's swagger, oodles of violence, over the top fashion designs, outrageous dialog and endless charisma from lead Isaac Hayes. […] Quite possibly the most amazing and shocking thing about Truck Turner is the inflammatory performance by Nichelle Nichols […]. Nichols performance quickly spirals out of control plummeting further into the depths of bellicosity nearly stealing the movie away from Hayes in the process. She is so vulgar, so tasteless in her line delivery that the character of Dorinda deserves a spin off series of her own for her effrontery. Nichols creates one of the most belligerent, aggressive and malicious persona's in all of screen villainy. You'll never look at Lt. Uhura the same way again...guaranteed. [Cool Ass Cinema]"
"Eurotrash connection: The part of Stalingrad, the blond hooker with Gator just before he dies, is played by Werewolf Woman's (1976 / trailer) Annik Borel. [Vanity Fear]" She's also found in Tom Simone's Prison Girls (1972 / final scene) alongside the great Uschi.
The film was originally released by AIP as part of a double feature with the Pam Greir vehicle, Foxy Brown (1974) — a lesser classic of the blaxploitation genre that is nevertheless eminently watchable.
Trailer to
Foxy Brown:


Hustle
(1975, dir. Robert Aldrich)

More than one movie site out there on the internet lists this flick as having Dick Miller in it, somewhere, but none list a specific role or manner. Thus, if he was indeed in it, the either he got cut out or was a simple face in the background. But for the benefit of a doubt, we list this Robert Aldrich-directed Burt Reynolds flick here as a "maybe". After all, Miller did work with Aldrich in the past — see The Dirty Dozen (1967) in Part II, and The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968), The Grissom Gang (1971) and Ulzana's Raid (1972) in Part III — and directors do have a penchant for reusing actors they find reliable and/or effective.
Trailer to
Hustle:
At All Movie, Paul Brenner has the plot: "Lieutenant Phil Gaines (Reynolds [11 Feb 1936 – 6 Sept 2018], below not from the film) is a cynical Los Angeles police detective amorously involved with an icewater-veined Parisian call girl, Nicole Britton (Catherine Deneuve, of Anima persa [1977 / fan trailer]). On the job, he begins to investigate the shady death of a teenage girl that appears to lead straight to Leo Sellers (Eddie Albert [22 April 1906 – 26 May 2005], of The Devil's Rain [1975 / trailer]), an attorney with a frightening number of connections. The problem is, Nicole herself has a direct connection to the case — Leo is one of her clients. Meanwhile, Marty Hollinger (Ben Johnson [13 June 1918 – 8 April 1996], of Terror Train [1980 / trailer]), the victim's father, decides to undertake a grassroots investigation of his own — little realizing that his seemingly murdered daughter (Colleen Brenner of Supervixens [1975 / trailer], with Haji and the great Uschi) was in up to her neck with prostitution, porno movie acting, and dancing as a stripper, facts which suggest that she may have offed herself."
"Considered an auteur in France, Aldrich used his clout to make this European-edged film, a grim, yet fascinatingly sleazy look at corruption in the justice system, and even cast Catherine Deneuve in the bargain. The gamble did not pay off; everyone hated Hustle and it failed. Thirty years on, however, its integrity and patience look positively masterful. [combustible celluloid]"
"The idea of a cop living on both sides of the law is always provocative, but in this case, Phil's relationship with Nicole makes him unsympathetic. Tolerating her demeaning career paints him as a user, while pushing her to abandon her work suggests he's a chauvinist; there's no way for Reynolds to win. Nonetheless, the actor gives a valiant effort, while Deneuve struggles to elevate her clichéd role despite obvious difficulty with English-language dialogue. Inhibited by iffy writing and overreaching direction, the stars end up letting their physicality do most of the acting — Deneuve looks ravishing and Reynolds looks tough. But that's not enough. Excepting Johnson, whose obsessive bloodlust resonates, most of the skilled supporting cast gets lost in the cinematic muddiness, and Aldrich does no one any favors by shooting interiors with ugly, high-contrast lighting. Still, Hustle gets points for seediness and for the nihilism of its ending. [Every '70s Movie]" 
For some odd reason, Hustle is commonly referred to as a flop, but it wasn't: it was the 17th highest grossing film of the year, which meant in raked in enough bucks to not sneeze at it.
And just for your fun: can you spot the differences between the above and below demurely photographed Burt Reynolds? Both images were found online, so someone actually went through the trouble to...



Crazy Mama
(1975, dir. Jonathan Demme)

One can't really claim that there was ever a real or lasting "mama-sploitation" genre, but for a while in the 1970s, the term "mama" did pop up relatively regularly in exploitation film titles. Among the more sleazy are, of course, the great title from 1972, I Dismember Mama (trailer), and 1974's Mama's Dirty Girls (trailer). And Corman, for example, directed the great Bloody Mama (trailer) in 1970, and produced Black Mama, White Mama (1973) and Big Bad Mama (1974, see above) and this flick here, Crazy Mama. (The earliest "mama" title we could find, by the way, is Harold Young's 1944 comedy, Machine Gun Mama [full film]. Do you know of any others?) According to Trailers from Hell, "Believe it or not, this was originally conceived as a time-travel sequel to Big Bad Mama with [arthouse auteur] Shirley Clarke (2 Oct 1919 – 23 Sept 1997, The Cool World [1963 / scene]) directing!"
Crazy Mama:
Crazy Mama is the second directorial project of Jonathan Demme (22 Feb 1944 – 26 April 2017), who the year previously proved his directorial mettle to Corman with the fabulous and classic WIP flick, Caged Heat (1974 / trailer). Today, of course, he better known by most people for his more respectable modern classics like Philadelphia (1993 / trailer) and Silence of the Lambs (1991 / trailer). Shot in fifteen days, Crazy Mama is the feature-film debut of both Dennis Quaid and Bill Paxton (17 May 1955 – 25 Feb 2017), the last in a blink-and-you-miss-him role as a cop in a car. Dick Miller plays the character Wilbur Janeway, also a cop; you see him shooting all of a half-second in the trailer above. 
Bill Paxton's earliest directorial project (and he's in it, too) —
 Barnes & Barnes: Fish Heads (1980):
Though one wouldn't expect it from the trailer, Crazy Mama is a slightly schizo film; it is highly reminiscent to Demme's later Something Wild (1986 / trailer), despite the different generations in which the respective films play, in that the wild and crazy first half segues into a somewhat downer second half. "Crazy Mama opens during the depression when a landholder uses goons to evict a sharecropper in Arkansas. Instead of moving on, the poor guy gets ventilated. Witnessing his death is his wife and daughter. The film flashes forward to the 1958. The daughter (Cloris Leachman) and mother (Ann Sothern [22 Jan 1909 – 15 March 2001]) have moved to Long Beach, California, but still have issues with landlords. Jim Backus (25 Feb 1913 – 3 July 1989) evicts them from their beauty shop. Instead of merely moving on, Cloris snaps. She chases down Backus and steals his car. She loads up mom, her pregnant daughter (Linda Purl of Fear of the Dark [2003]) and the future-baby daddy (Donny Most) and heads to Las Vegas for excitement. While in Sin City, she puts together Mama's Gang with the intent of a cross country crime spree so she can buy the Arkansas farm. She hooks up with a small town mayor (Stuart Whitman of The Girl in Black Stockings [1957]) who wants to marry her. Instead of him getting a divorce, they fake his kidnapping so the guy's rich wife will cough up millions. This is the plan that really backfires and brings down the law. [Inside Pulse]"
"Cloris Leachman (of Young Frankenstein [1974 / trailer]) relishes Melba's every come-on and helpless shriek, crafting a believably conflicted woman in the process. She's the victim of a tragically naive upbringing. Brainwashed by her mother — Ann Sothern's brazen Sheba — Melba passes on the 'get rich or die trying' message to Cheryl. As the gang sets out on its adventure, Melba learns Cheryl is pregnant by local surfer Shawn (Donn Most). 'You ruined my baby's life,' Melba screams. The irony of this woman then taking said daughter along on a hopeless crime-spree and turning the father of her underage daughter's baby into a patsy is so grand it must be visible from space. Fortunately Demme doesn't beat us around the head with the gang's (im)morality, instead allowing the sugar rush of their adventure to cool off like the onset of guilt after an eating binge. The Stokes' carousel of crime and carnality, like all rides, can only go so far. Half the joy of Crazy Mama, like the build up to a first horror movie kill, is wondering when the inevitable payoff will come. And how much collateral damage there'll be. [CHUD]"
"The film […] wonderfully tears down the conventions of '50s womanhood, while providing loads of quirky fun along the way. The film is a bit of an acquired taste, often playing a little like a [latter-day] John Waters movie, but the trip is worth your time. [ign]"
"Crazy Mama is […] an absolute waste of considerable talent and warrants no further attention. Skip it. [10K Bullets]"
"Crazy Mama is a Roger Corman-produced, Jonathan Demme-directed […] nostalgia-crime flick that feels like a less-competent John Waters version of Grease (1978 / trailer) fused with Bonnie and Clyde (1967 / trailer). [Junta Juleil's Culture Shock]"


Darktown Strutters
(1975, dir. William Witney)


"Any similarity between this true life adventure and the story Cinderella ... is bullshit." 

A.k.a. Get Down and Boogie. The second and last blaxploitation film scriptwriter George Armitage ever wrote after 1972's Hit Man (trailer), Armitage was also set to direct Darktown Strutters (as he did Hit Man) but bowed out for another project that eventually fell through. He was replaced by William Witney (5 May 1915 – 17 March 2002), who had previously also directed the Gene Corman produced The Girls on the Beach (1965, see Part II). Darktown Strutters was his second to last directorial project, his final, the semi-Eurowestern Showdown at Eagle Gap aka Quell and Co. (scene), followed seven years later in 1982.
"Veteran western and serial director William Witney, a Tarantino favorite who began his career as a bit player in 1934, cashed in his Hollywood chips with this penultimate, extremely cartoony and uncharacteristic effort. New World picked it up from Roger Corman's brother Gene who produced it with Tennessee financing but was unable to find a distributor. When it proved a bit too bizarre for the general blaxploitation market, NW reissued it two years later as Get Down and Boogie, to similarly meager boxoffice returns. [Trailers from Hell]"
 Darktown Strutters:
According to Armitage, "The script, by the way, was one uninterrupted full sentence with no punctuation. I think I wrote it in three days. I was going to direct it, but Warners wanted to make a script I had written called Trophy, which was about two police departments getting into a shooting war. Unfortunately I still haven't been able to get it made. I thought the Darktown Strutters script was good. Roger Moseley, who was in Hit Man, was in the film. Joe Viola [director of The Hot Box (1972 / trailer) and Angels Hard as They Come (1971 / trailer)] started as the director, but he felt the production was too loose and there was almost a terrible accident. He left, and they brought in a famous Western director named William Whitney, and he finished the picture. I thought it was a fun film. I remember we had a screening and we invited Richard Pryor because we thought we might be able to get him to punch up some of the dialogue. I looked over at the aisle and Richard was crawling out of the theater! I took it that he was not totally crazy about the movie. After the movie was over we went outside and he was driving away in some sort of Ford Land Rover thing, wild eyed because he thought we were going to try and stop him. [Money into Light]"
A version, by Ella Fitzgerald, of the song that gave the movie its title, Darktown Strutters' Ball (Shelton Brooks, 1915):
On its "Counter Culture" list, the generally hard to please Worldwide Celluloid Massacre rates the film "Of Some Interest" and says: "Truly wacky blaxploitation musical slapstick that has women with attitude on three-wheeled choppers looking for their momma (Frances E. Nealy [14 Oct 1918 – 23 May 1997]) and missing black people while fighting the KKK and cops with a single-digit IQ. The evil is personified by a Colonel Sanders lookalike (Norman Bartold [6 Aug 1928 – 28 May 1994]) who has built a cloning machine which produces pig-people and full-grown men in diapers. The cops have a siren the size of the car, there's VD (Otis Day), who carries a huge syringe in case somebody touches him and gets infected, a drug-dealer ice-cream man selling pot-sicle and other colorful clownish characters. Messy and wacky but not very funny."
The usually not easy to shock Temple of Shock, however, seems to have been shocked by the film, saying "It's a (great white) wonder the video box doesn't say 'Dey doan shake 'em like dese anymo'!'" Indeed, one is never sure whether the film is laughing with or at the Afro-Americans in the movie and watching the movie — but, damn! It be funny."
"Of course one could think to oneself — in today's enlightened times — that hey, it's written by a white dude, produced by a white dude and directed by a white dude, with a big dash of Green Pastures-style hokus in its cardboard iconography, how can it really lampoon racist tropes without being racist? (Armitage notes Richard Pryor crawled out of the test screening.) Maybe it can't, but that's no reason not to enjoy it. If you can't laugh in horror as the local police chief — dressed up in drag and blackface to catch a white female rapist who targets only "black male queers" — is shot trying to leave the precinct by his skittish officers (who don't recognize him), then man, you'll never survive the decade to come. [Acidemic]"
Full film at YouTube:
Over at the website of the best film magazine in the world, Shock Cinema, the blurb found on the "Shock Cinema Favorites" list says, "A beloved, brain-damaged, grindhouse all-time favorite! This blaxploitation/musical/comedy/biker movie is unapologetically surreal and stooopid, featuring a female motorcycle gang led by Trina Parks and decked out in threads that would've given Liberace wet dreams. Searching for the leader's missing mom (who ran the local Watts abortion clinic!), these funky femmes encounter a cocaine dealer in a white cowboy suit pedalling a 'Pot-sicle' cart; a karate choppin' Brother who breaks through doors (even at his own house); cycle-straddling KKK'ers in red leather hip boots, with crosses strapped to their cissy bars; a sexually-kinky Colonel Sanders look-a-like who's into cloning experiments and keeps kidnapped blacks caged in the cellar; outlandish song-'n'-dance numbers; plus more watermelon and ribs jokes than you'll believe. It's all jawdroppingly demented, with kudos going to whacked scripter George Armitage, director William Witney (who made about a billion B-westerns back in the '30s and '40s) and set designer Jack Fisk, who mixes Willy Wonka with Ken Russell for cornea-singing results. Look for Roger Mosley (MAGNUM P.I.), Stan Shaw, DeWayne Jessie, plus Dick Miller as a local Pig [named Office Hugo]."
 
The original artwork to the Darktown Strutters film poster is by John Solie, whose website has gone dead — a bad sign, to say the least. Obviously enough, he also did the original artwork to the TNT Jackson (1974) poster featuring the same gun-toting babe that was later recycled for some of the Darktown Strutters' advertisements. The clipping above is for a screening at the former Loews and current Landmark Theatre, where it screened with the Shaw Brothers' Seven Blows of the Dragon (1972), a.k.a. The Water Margin and Outlaws of the Marsh. 
Trailer to
Seven Blows of the Dragon:


White Line Fever
(1975, dir. Jonathan Kaplan)

Another Jonathan Kaplan film, his follow up to the previous year's Truck Turner, one which a wasted life already took a quick look at way back in 2012, when we reviewed the career of another departed fave character actor, R.G. Armstrong (7 April 1917 – 27 July 2012), who likewise appeared in a small part in this movie. (Back then, we wrongly credited this movie to the Corman house — it sure looks and feels like one — but it is actually a "major" release, from Columbia Pictures.)
There we sort of wrote: Dick Miller "has a super-tiny part in this […] flick aimed at the USA's pop culture fascination for the trucker culture of the states (think Convoy [1978 / theme song] or Smokey & the Bandit [1977 / trailer]), which saw/sees the trucker as a sort of modern-day cowboy. White Line Fever is but one of a whole slew of more than entertaining […] drive-in flotsam that Jonathan Kaplan did in the early seventies, including 1973 The Student Teachers (1973 / trailer [See Part III]), Night Call Nurses (1972 / trailer [See Part III]) and the semi-classic Blaxploitation flick Truck Turner (1974 / trailer [see further above]). In regards to this pre-alcohol-bloat Jan-Michael Vincent flick, Don Druker of The Chicago Reader says: 'The blue-collar revenge tragedy lives on in Jonathan Kaplan's surprisingly effective tale of a young independent trucker (Jan-Michael Vincent) up against the petty graft and entrenched hoodlumism of the industry. Strongly reminiscent of Walking Tall (1973 / trailer) [...], Kaplan's film breaks no new ground. But Vincent is stronger than usual, and Kaplan is clearly in control of his pacing and editing. With Kay Lenz, Slim Pickens, and L.Q. Jones.'" 
White Line Fever:
Broke Horror is of the opinion that "Despite being an influence on Quentin Tarantino, the film is quite slow by today's standards. […] Rather than a revenge film, it plays out like a response to the vigilantism popularized by Death Wish (1974 / trailer), which was a huge success the prior year; the whistle blower is championed for his good behavior. White Line Fever is southern-fried, from the accents to the music to the Arizona scenery. There's plenty of truck driving, fist fighting, gun shooting, beer drinking, and casual racism. But all the violence is quickly swept under the rug with little consequence. Because everything — both good and bad — seemingly happens at random, it's difficult to get invested in the stakes. There are some good action scenes — most notably, a stuntman risking his life to run atop a speeding truck — but Kaplan can't seem to decide if he wants to make a tough-guy action movie or a blue collar drama."
As evidenced by Armstrong and the other names on the cast list, White Line Fever is a film full of other familiar faces (i.e., "character actors") aside from that of Dick Miller, who shows up to play "a friendly, good-hearted, squirrel hunting jacket-wearing trucker named" R. Birdie Corman — a nod to Roger Corman, of course. The film was meant as a star vehicle for the then up-and-coming (and then still hot-looking) Jan-Michael Vincent (15 July 1945 – 10 Feb 2019), whose full frontal in the previous year's depressing Buster and Billie (1974 / scenes) remains a fond childhood memory. If one is to believe what the thyroid-handicapped Kaplan says at Trailers from Hell, the shoot of White Line Fever is the possible beginning of Vincent's eventual white line fever and other substance-abuse problems. 
Credit sequence with the theme song
Drifting & Dreaming by Valerie Carter:
Kaplan cowrote White Line Fever with Ken Freidman, who some four years earlier wrote and directed the unpopular but odd horror flick, Death by Invitation (1971 / trailer).


Deathrace 2000
(1975, dir. Paul Bartel)


"As the cars roar into Pennsylvania, the cradle of liberty, it seems apparent that our citizens are staying off the streets, which may make scoring particularly difficult, even with this year's rule changes. To recap those revisions: women are still worth 10 points more than men in all age brackets, but teenagers now rack up 40 points, and toddlers under 12 now rate a big 70 points. The big score: anyone, any sex, over 75 years old has been upped to 100 points." 
Harold (Carle Bensen [8 Dec 1916 – 21 Nov 2001])

Dick Miller is basically an uncredited extra as one of the Chicken Gang in this exercise in violent black comedy from the sadly departed Paul Bartel (6 Aug 1938 – 13 May 2000). The real name that is fun to see in this movie, however, is a young and unknown Sylvester Stallone, seen below (in his DILF age) not from this film but from the film set of the fun flick Demolition Man [1993 / trailer], as one of the main other racers.
Deathrace 2000 is the second feature film directed by Bartel, whose first feature film project, Private Parts (1972 / trailer), remains a blackly funny shocker that must be seen to be believed. Which isn't to say that Deathrace 2000 isn't good, for it is actually truly entertaining, but there is a reason why this exploitation semi-classic got remade and recycled multiple times* while Private Parts remains an obscure cult film: Bartel's earlier film is simply much, much more perverse. (Check it out if you haven't seen it yet.)
* In 2007/8, it was remade as a Jason Stratham vehicle, Death Race [trailer], which was followed by two D2DVD prequels, Death Race 2 (2011 / trailer) and Death Race 3: Inferno (2013 / trailer) and a sequel, Death Race: Beyond Anarchy (2018 / trailer) were also produced. An "official" Roger Corman produced sequel, Death Race 2050 (trailer), went straight to the DVD cutout bins in 2017. (The last, oddly enough, is the campiest and most fun.)
 
Trailer to
Deathrace 2000:
In regard to the original film, which is nominally based on the short story The Racer by "Danish-American novelist, short-story writer, film producer, film director, and screenwriter" Ib Melchior (17 Sept 1917 – 14 March 2015), Corman now claims that the satire of Bartel's original was his aim all along. Everyone else who worked on the original production, however, never fails to mention that Corman wanted a serious action flick and cut out as much humor as he could.
For example, according to Charles Griffith, who rewrote the original script submitted by Robert Thom (3 July 1929 – 8 May 1979): "[Roger Corman] tried to make it serious. He was enraged with me for trying to make it funny, but he took me to see the cars and they were all goofy looking with decal eyes and rubber teeth. I said, 'You can't be serious', and he tells me, 'Chuck, this is a hard-hitting serious picture!' Obviously, Bartel didn't think so either. […] When Paul went to shoot it, I didn't envy him; all the gags were cut. But he did make some gags up on the spot, a hand grenade, you know — all that stuff. So when I went out to do the second unit […], I first had everybody getting it into the ass but Roger vetoed that. [Laughs.] So then I had other ways of killing them all and we put it together as the picture. I told him to take my name off of it, but he wouldn't do that. He had already made the titles again! [Senses of Cinema]"
As seen by the newspaper clipping found at Scenes from the Morgue, at least at the Grand Island Drive In, Deathrace 2000 was screened with the not-so-funny Angels Die Hard (1970 / trailer).
Varied Celluloid has the plot: "In the year 2000 the world has made a turn for the more violent side. The [Republican] president (Sandy McCallum [17 Dec 1926 – 24 Oct 2008]) no longer lives within the country and instead rules from afar. The worldwide media has taken on a fanatical obsession with the Transcontinental Road Race that leads contestants across America in a homicidal race for worldwide recognition and fame. While making this trip, contestants are encouraged to score points by running down any bystandards [sic] who stand in their way. Along for the ride is 'Machine Gun' Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone), 'Calamity' Jane Kelly (Mary Woronov of Night of the Comet [1984]), Nero 'The Hero' (Martin Kove of Soft Target [2006] and Seven Mummies [2006]), Matilda 'The Hun' (Roberta Collins [17 Nov 1944 – 16 Aug 2008]) and the returning champion: Frankenstein (David Carradine [8 Dec 1936 – 3 June 2009] of Q [1982] and Dead and Breakfast [2004]). Frankenstein is said to have lost the majority of his body parts during previous races and is now more machine than man. Placed with a new navigator named Annie Smith (Simone Griffeth, of Swamp Girl [1971 / trailer]), Frankenstein will have to deal with both his opponents in the race as well as Annie who is an undercover agent for the rebel movement against Mr. President."
"Death Race 2000 is what happens when very smart, talented people set out to make a ridiculous movie.  It's got a hammy Sylvester Stallone as Frankenstein's arch-nemesis, Machine Gun Joe, but it also has expansive vistas shot by Badlands (1973 / trailer) cinematographer Tak Fujimoto.  It has plenty of bad puns and topless women, but it also comments on the role of violence American society.  Complete with hand-illustrated backdrops and opening credits, this is 1970s cult cinema at its trashy, funny best. [366 Weird Movies]" 
Paul Bartel's second directorial project,
the short Naughty Nurse (1969):


Capone
(1975, dir. Steve Carver)

Steve Carver, director of Big Bad Mama (1974), partakes in another Roger Corman production, this one scripted by Howard Browne (15 April 1908 – 28 Oct 1999), who way back in 1967 had scripted another Roger Corman-directed Al Capone movie, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (see Part II). Capone was to be Browne's third and final feature-film screenplay credit. Carver (or, more likely, Corman) reused footage from the earlier movie in Capone, including the massacre scene — which is why Dick Miller is found in this movie: he is a gunman in the reused footage.
 
Of thespian note: Sylvester Stallone, in his second and last appearance in a Corman production, has the meaty role of Frank Nitti. Of his part in Capone, Stallone later said, "I particularly enjoyed working on Capone, because it was like the cheesy, mentally challenged inbred cousin of The Godfather (1972 / trailer). [ain't it cool]"
In real life, Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti (27 Jan 1886 – 19 March 1943) killed himself long before Capone lost his grasp on reality in prison; in the movie, he survives till the end and delivers a eulogy at Capone's funeral. Of Stallone's performance, the Video Vacuum says, "It's not a flashy role like Machine Gun Joe in Death Race but he has some good moments. He and Gazzara have an easy chemistry together and it's sort of a shame that their relationship wasn't the main focus of the movie."
Trailer to
Capone: 
"Over the course of his legendary career, filmmaker Roger Corman produced two films about the life of Al Capone.  The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which starred Jason Robards as the famous Chicago mobster and featured Jack Nicholson in a two-line role, is the one that everyone remembers.  The other one was simply titled Capone and starred Ben Gazzara. […] Despite being one of the few movies to depict Al's final days, Capone makes little effort to be historically accurate.  Instead, it's a gangster film in the tradition of Little Caesar (1931 / trailer), The Public Enemy* (1931 / trailer), and both versions of Scarface (1932 / trailer and 1983 / trailer), complete with nudity, tough talk, and plenty of tommy gun action.  […]  There is nothing surprising about Capone but it's still entertaining. [Through a Shattered Lens]" 
* As mentioned in Dick Miller Part II, The Public Enemy has one of the hardest endings ever filmed.
The plot: "Capone stars Ben Gazzara (28 Aug 1930 – 3 Feb 2012) as the titular mobster. We meet him as a young man on the mean streets of Brooklyn where he catches the attention of a local mob boss named Johnny Torrio (Harry Guardino [23 Dec 1925 – 17 July 1995]). Impressed by his drive, Torrio ships Capone off to Chicago where he gives him a job and soon enough, he's working his way up the ranks and walking over a pile of bodies of rival gangs lead by Hymie Weiss' (John Davis Chandler [28 Jan 1935 – 16 Feb 2010]) and Bugs Moran (Robert Phillips [10 Apr 1925 – 5 Nov 2018]) along the way. After amassing a pretty good business in the bootlegging market and branching out into selling girls, gambling operations and the protection racket, he winds up romancing a pretty blonde named Iris Crawford (Susan Blakely). As business gets bigger, Capone starts handing off more and more to his second in command, Frank Nitti (Stallone), but the cops are closing in on Capone and his stay at the top isn't going to last forever… [Rock! Shock! Pop!]"
"'After 45 years, the true story will be told!' promises the tagline. Hmm, I don't know which story they were talking about, but Al Capone's it ain't. The film is so historically inaccurate that it makes De Palma's The Untouchables (1987 / trailer) look like an academic thesis in American Studies. To make things worse, Carver is completely ignorant of the rise-and-fall narrative convention that is the backbone of any gangster epic worth its salt. Where does Alphonso come from? How did he rise so fast? What caused the scars? Nobody seems to give a shit. In the first scene, the mafia top honchos call a greying Gazzara, easily in his forties, 'kid' — that'll suffice as an origin story, and if you're not happy, here's some boobs! Look out, a machine gun! [Permanent Plastic Helmet]"
Over at Uncle Scoopy's Movie House, Uncle Scoopy has obvious priorities: "I found it a quick watch, and thought some of the cinematography was outstanding, but none of that is important. What is important here is the nudity. Susan Blakely does an open crotch shot in clear light. This is believed to be the first such shot in an American mainstream film, and the only one until Sharon Stone's famous interrogation scene in Basic Instinct (1992 / trailer). Unlike Stone, Blakely never claimed she didn't know what would be shown. Problem is, it wasn't shown in most versions of the film. Unfortunately, the DVD version, while uncut, is in a theatrical aspect ratio, so there are some frames in which Blakely's genitalia are below the limits of the widescreen cropping."


Vigilante Force
(1976, writ. & dir. George Armitage)

The third feature film of low-output action film auteur George Armitage, Vigilante Force a violently entertaining and mildly unsubtle swipe at the American way — which probably explains why it flopped and has been pretty much forgotten. One of those great movies in which everyone shoots hundreds of rounds without ever reloading their weapons, Vigilante Force is simply superlative red neck exploitation, "If you're a fan of Death Wish III (1985 / trailer) or William Lustig's Vigilante (1982 / trailer), I would definitely expect you to enjoy Vigilante Force. [Bloody Disgusting]"
Trailer to
 Vigilante Force:
Bulletproof Action, which says "there are massive amounts of explosions, action scenes, shootouts and senseless violence to round out exactly what you would expect from a classic 70s film", has the plot: "A nearby oil reserve brings a lot of wealth to a small California town. Unfortunately, it also brings a lot of riff raff that start killing everyone in their way including the local cops. While running out of options the police chief takes the advice of a local business owner named Ben Arnold (Jan-Michael Vincent) and hires his ex- veteran brother Aaron (Kris Kristofferson of Blade [1998]) to clean shit up. Within a few days Aaron and his four newly deputized buddies do what they promised and they run all the hoods out of town. […] The story line takes a surprising twist when Aaron and his friends start shaking down the local business owners for protection money, kill anyone that opposes them and open their own gambling establishment. Not to mention, they use their new legal clout to order a ton of military weapons with enough firepower to take control of an entire state. […] Ben is now responsible for the monster he created and without giving too much away, Aaron crosses the line leaving Ben no choice but to go to war with his own kin. With the help of the community an all-out war breaks out with a climactic and energized ending."
"Vigilante Force is the 70s equivalent of Road House (1989 / trailer). It's a rough n' rowdy cinematic southern rock song and like those anthemic, loud guitar licks, it's the type of movie you don't see any more. The ultimate testosterone-fueled man's movie, this remake of Bucktown (1975 / trailer) amounts to a modern day western filled with bar brawls, street fights, shootouts and massive explosions. Filled with mindless violence and plenty of tough guy dialogue and posing, both male and female viewers get lots of eye candy in this lovingly braindead 70s obscurity that champions its drive-in heritage by shoving it in your face with one hand and brandishing a rifle in the other. [Cool Ass Cinema]
"Writer/director Armitage, who cut his teeth on Private Duty Nurses (1971, see Part III) […], fills the screen with eye candy and other dirt-cheap visual effects. A drop-dead gorgeous Victoria Principal (Earthquake [1974 / trailer], seen above not from the film) plays the girlfriend of Ben, whose idea of romance is greeting her with a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon — a gesture that may make viewers cringe, knowing how Vincent torpedoed his career. There's also a pre-WKRP (1978-82) Loni Anderson,* uncredited as a buxom, brunette casino hussy named, naturally, Peaches. One of the great unheralded pics in hicksploitation history, Vigilante Force comes packed with an uncredited Dick Miller as a piano player, a lot of whores, a guy named Shakey (John Steadman [20 Jul 1909 – 28 Jan 1993] of Fade to Black [1980 / trailer]), a girl named Boots (Lilyan McBride [3 Aug 1919 – 11 March 2001] of Blood Orgy of the She Devils [1973 / trailer]), several grown men in coonskin caps, a fake Cloris Leachman and the real Andrew Stevens. Plus, David Doyle (aka Bosley from TV's Charlie's Angels [1976-81]) gets run over by a car […]. [Rod Lott at Flick Attack]"
* Regarding the above painting of Ms. Anderson (framed, 54 1/2 by 42 1/2 inches): "A framed acrylic on canvas painting of Loni Anderson wearing a light sheath, signed 'Elfred Lee '91.' Lee, a religious painter, was commissioned by Burt Reynolds to do a nude of Loni Anderson. Reynolds wanted a full-nude painting, but Anderson balked at the idea, and the sheath was a compromise. The painting once hung in their living room, but it was too public for Anderson, who moved it to the bedroom. Accompanied by a photograph of the artist with the painting. PROVENANCE: From the Collection of Loni Anderson. [Julien's Auctions]" Sold (2014) for $4,480.
Almost Fabulous didn't notice Loni, but did notice the young men: "Jan-Michael Vincent! Andrew Stevens! Shirtless! Wow. If I was still a teenager, I'd be in heaven. Unfortunately, I'm not a teenager anymore and, while the boys might look good in this movie, their acting leaves something to be desired. The basic story is ok though and there are lots of fistfights and, at the end, many explosions, some decent stunts, and a bazooka."
Like Jan-Michael (and Bernadette Peters, for that matter), Andrew Stevens (of Venomous [2001], The Terror Within II [1991] and The Day of the Animals [1977]), who plays Paul, the friend of Jan Michael-Vincent's character, was in his heart-throb, clean-shaven-chest-and-six-pack prime in Vigilante Force. The same year that he appeared in Vigilante Force, Stevens was in a similarly plotted film that probably could not, would not, be made today: Rene Daalder's Massacre at Central High. 
Trailer to
 Massacre at Central High:


Moving Violation
(1976, dir. Charles S. Dubin [1 Feb 1919 – 5 Sept 2011])

One of the occasional Roger (& Julia) Corman productions which, uncharacteristically, doesn't have an unknown youngster at the megaphone but, instead, a forgotten geezer with years of experience — TV experience, in this case. Moving Violation is the second of only two feature films life-long TV director Dubin ever directed, the first being 1957's Mister Rock and Roll (trailer). Considering that he had been blacklisted twice in the 1950s by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, it's surprising he ever directed anything at all. The poster above is yet another John Solie poster, while the German poster below was done by Hans Braun (1925-2011).
Moving Violation is pretty typical product of its time, when for way too long films had to include multiple car crashes; this one has 26 crashed cars. As Mystery File says, "If you're looking for the type of movie that they simply don't make anymore, look no further than Moving Violation, a car-chase exploitation filmed produced by Roger and Julie Corman. Directed by Charles S. Dubin, who is mainly known for his work in television, the alternatingly thrilling, humorous, and sad film doesn't have the most complex of plots. But it makes up for it in (no spoilers here) some great car-chase sequences."
Trailer to
Moving Violation:
Scopophilia, which addendums its article with "if you can get past the highly uninspired opening bit then the film improves from there", has the plot: "Eddie Moore (Stephen McHattie of Pontypool [2008]) is a drifter hitch-hiking his way through a small Texas town (at least it's supposed to be Texas even though it becomes abundantly clear that it was filmed in southern California instead.) While in town he meets up with the attractive Camilla 'Cam' Johnson (Kay Lenz of Prisoners of the Lost Universe [1983 / trailer]). They quickly fall for each other and decide to go make-out on the lawn of one of the town's richest citizens, Mr. Rockfield (Will Geer [9 March 1902 – 22 April 1978] of Dear Dead Delilah [1972 / trailer]). It is there that they witness a murder when the town's corrupt sheriff (Lonny Chapman [1 Oct 1920-12 Oct 2007]) kills his deputy (Paul Linke of Motel Hell [1980]) after the deputy confronts Rockfield on his unscrupulous business practices. Now Cam and Eddie must go on the run as the sheriff tries to frame them for the murder."
"McHattie (Eddie) and Lenz (Cam) are not given much time to establish their characters beyond drifter and bored local girl before they are thrown into the action. We root for them because Chapman (Sherriff Rankin) is better as the villain. Geer is great in his supporting role, reacting to Tylor's attempt at blackmail with: 'Here I invite you to dinner, and you start off by stealing the silverware.' […] Don Peake's score hits all of the common country car chase notes (heavy on the banjo and fiddle), but the […] Everly theme song [Detroit Man] is the more notable aspect of the soundtrack. Humanoids from the Deep (1980 / trailer) director Barbara Peeters served as second unit director, shooting some of the car stunts and explosions not involving the main cast. […] Moving Violation was rated PG despite Lenz's topless scenes and some bloody bullet-hits. [DVD Drive-In]" 
Credit sequence with
Phil Everly's Detroit Man:
"For an hour and fifteen minutes, Moving Violation features a whole bunch of shitty cops wrecking cars, and that's pretty fun. Then it has one of the lamest, most awkward endings you could imagine. I still recommend it for the many, many car chases, but be prepared for disappointment. [Movies or Minutes]"
Dick Miller shows up to play a guy named Mack, who ends up crashing his car. Keep your eyes open when he crashes into the water and pounds the top of his car: you can see it's not Miller, but his stunt double. Also making a quick appearance in the flick, co-scripter David R. Osterhout as a gas station attendant.


Cannonball
(1976, dir. Paul Bartel)

(In the UK, a.k.a. Carquake.) Death Race 2000 was a hit, and Corman wanted another car-centric action flick. So he basically had Death Race 2000 remade, but in a contemporary setting and without the kill points: in Cannonball, the object is simply to the first in a race across the USA. And who else should better do it again than the same director as well, and so, despite his own personal misgivings about not being an action film director, Bartel took on the job. Cannonball came out around the same time as another illegal cross country race comedy, The Gumball Rally (1976 / trailer), and the success of the two begat, among many other movies, The Cannonball Rally (1981 / trailer) and its sequels, the "official" one, Cannonball Run II (1984 / trailer),and the "unofficial", Speed Zone aka Cannonball Fever (1989 / trailer). 
Trailer to
Cannonball: 

Although inspired by the success of Deathrace 2000 and other car chase & crash films, Cannonball! is actually (faintly) based on an actual, "unofficial, unsanctioned [cross-country] automobile race run five times in the 1970s from New York City and Darien, Connecticut, on the East Coast of the United States to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California […] Conceived by car magazine writer and auto racer Brock Yates (21 Oct 1933 – 5 Oct 2016) and fellow Car and Driver editor Steve Smith. [Wikipedia]"

Over at Discland, they say: "Truth be told, there wasn't much to this genre [the "cross-country race movie" / car crash movie"]: it was really just an excuse to crash a bunch of cool cars and blow things up. In that regard, Cannonball is a smashing success, featuring some of the most jaw-droppingly excessive movie explosions […] ever seen. David Carradine [as Coy 'Cannonball' Buckman] is fine, giving roughly the same performance he gave in Death Race 2000, but the endless parade of cameos offer the film its true highlights. Where else can you see Paul Bartel, Martin Scorsese, and Sylvester Stallone share a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken? In addition, the film features Gerrit Graham, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller, Joe Dante, Roger Corman, and future Jerry Bruckheimer sidekick, Don Simpson (who also co-wrote the script)."
Don Simpson (29 Oct 1943 – 19 Jan 1996) went on to become one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood, the man behind dozens of idiocy-inducing blockbusters of the kind we hate. "He was portrayed as a sinister frequent call-girl abuser in the book You'll Never Make Love in This Town Again by four ex-call girls (Liza, Robin, Tiffany and Linda)." One assumes that he wrote the serious stuff, and Bartel added all the fun quirkiness — like the scene in which Bartel plays the piano singing faux-Gershwin while Thug 1 (Scorsese) and Thug 2 (Stallone) beat the shit out of Cannonball's brother, Bennie Buckman (Dick Miller).
The plot: "The annual Trans-America road race is so secret it doesn't even have an official name. Announced via a single, unadorned want ad, it's open to anyone with a valid license and four wheels. The goal is simple, start in California, finish in New York. The person who punches in with the quickest time wins the prize — $100,000. This year's contestants are a motley group including: an arrogant German champion, two lovesick teens in a 'borrowed' Corvette, three carhops in a rented van, a psychotic hothead sponsored by his traveling companions, a country-western singer and his manager mother, a family man with a cunning plan and a jiggly blonde waiting for him on the east coast, a jive hipster in a swank suit driving another 'borrowed' car, and—most significantly—Coy 'Cannonball' Buckman, who's on probation after taking the fall for his best friend for the death of a passenger during a past race. Luckily for Coy, his probation officer (Veronica Hamel) is also his girlfriend and she's joining him for the ride; unluckily for him, his brother (Miller) has bet more than he can afford on Coy's winning and his interference will end up having tragic consequences for almost all involved. [Vanity Fear]"
Someone who likes the movie says: "I put off watching Cannonball! for years, having heard mostly bad things […].  However, having just seen it, I am happy to report that Cannonball is great.  The material has been adequately Bartel-ized; it's dark, hilarious, insane, and it ends with a senseless pileup of cascading explosions that truly must be seen to be believed. [...] Fulfilling the 'it's technically not a movie from 70s if Dick Miller's not in it' rule, Dick Miller appears as Carradine's desperate gambler brother.  He gives a solid, typically Miller-ish performance, and I especially applaud the balls of casting him as Carradine's brother in a movie that already features Carradine's real-life half-brother. [Junta Juleil's Culture Shock]"
Someone who dislikes the movie says: "David Carradine is Coy "Cannonball" Buckman, an ex-con and ex-professional race car driver, who wants to race his flame orange Firebird in the illegal Cannonball Run across the country. Unwillingly along for the ride is his parole officer and girlfriend, one in the same. Since he's the favorite to win, he's got everybody gunning for him, including a gangster who's laid a big bet on another driver. It's a pretty basic set-up that should provide for some fun, mindless entertainment. There's a couple of good scenes, […] but that's about it. The rest of the film is incredibly dull, the racing scenes are mostly uninspired, the acting hovers between good and bad, so you can't get into the characters, but you can't laugh at the actors ineptitude. The score is an earful of awful, it sounds like it was ripped straight from a 70's porn movie that the composer was working on at the same time. [What I Watched Last Night]"
Elsewhere, someone seems conflicted: "Due to the large cast, none of the characters are really developed beyond quirks and gimmicks. So it's really up to the cast to imbue the thin sketches with enough personality to make them worth watching, or at least take the one-note joke and run with it. […] The film seems to be of two minds. The main storyline is a pretty typical seventies car flick, with all the crashes, explosions, and gap-jumping you expect of the genre and time period. None of this is surprising, since Simpson later found much more success as the producer of such big-budget crap as Beverly Hills Cop (1984 / trailer), Days of Thunder (1990 / trailer), and Bad Boys (1995 / trailer). However, Bartel's influence is still present. All the funny and wacky stuff, like the singing cowboy or naughty girls, were pretty obviously his work. I suspect a lot of the amusing one-liners probably came from his typewriter as well. […] The two tones end up conflicting with each other, especially come the last act. Towards the end of the movie, a character is shot and killed, someone is crushed when the car they are hiding under is knocked off the jacks, a car explodes in an enormous fireball, and a huge pile-up results. […] Some of it is cool, of course, like a flaming tire shooting high into the sky, but overall the graphic violence definitely sticks out and clashes with the film's overall breezy, goofy tone. [Zack's Film Thoughts]"
Often overlooked trivia: Cannonball was a co-production of the Shaw Brothers Studios, the Hong Kong powerhouse. (Other co-productions of the time include the far more obvious Hammer-Shaw film Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires [1974] and the flop that is the sequel to Cleopatra Jones [1973], Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold [1975 / trailer].) Interestingly enough, Shaw's Hong Kong competitor Golden Harvest later co-produced the mainstream studio Cannonball film, The Cannonball Rally (1981).


Hollywood Boulevard
(1976, dir. Allan Arkush & Joe Dante)

"If it's a good picture, it's a Miracle."

Not a remake of Robert Florey's (14 Sept 1900 – 16 May 1979) justly forgotten "satire", Hollywood Boulevard (1936 / Gary Cooper). Florey, mostly forgotten today by everyone but total film nerds, did head a few noteworthy projects: The Marx Bros flick The Cocoanuts (1929 / cropped film), the much too underappreciated Universal horror Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932 / trailer), the intriguing The Face Behind the Mask (1941), the well shot The Crooked Way (1949 / scene), the disappointing The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) and, of course, the early and entertaining experimental short, The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra (1928), which a wasted life presented in April of this year as our Short Film of the Month. Many sources claim that Florey remade his short as a feature film with Hollywood Boulevard (1936), but that's not quite right: actually, Florey merely added the actor-seeking-career plot of 9413 as one of the many subplots to the far more mainstream feature film 8 years later.
Despite the fact that the Corman-produced exploitation comedy Hollywood Blvd also revolves around a thespian (this time female) who comes to Hollywood in search of a film career, the film that inspired it is actually Edwin L. Marin's (21 Feb 1899 – 2 May 1951) 1932 comic mystery thriller, The Death Kiss (a trailer), which is now in the public domain. More than anything else, this Hollywood Blvd is simply "[…] the hurry-up production of one of the last of Roger Corman's 'three girls' drive-in exploitation pictures in which nubile nurses, teachers or in this case starlets have semi-clothed adventures around LA for 80 minutes or so. Enthusiastically narrated, to say the least, by The Real Don Steele (1 April 1936 – 5 Aug 1997). [Trailers from Hell]" It is also the feature-film directorial debut of Joe Dante and Allan Arkush. 
Hollywood Boulevard:
"The movie came out of a bet made between producer Jon Davison and Roger Corman that Davison could make a film cheaper than any other that had been made at New World Pictures. Corman granted him a budget of $60,000 and only allowed ten days of shooting instead of the usual 15. The filmmakers achieved this by coming up with a story about a B-movie studio which could incorporate footage from other movies that Corman owned. The film was shot in October 1975 on short ends of raw stock left over from other movies. [Wikipedia]"
The most meta moment of the movie is probably when Dick Miller, as the hustling agent Walter Paisley (name taken from the character he plays in Bucket of Blood [1959 / see Part I]) watches himself in a scene from The Terror (1963 / see Part II) at a drive-in. (Less meta: Paul Bartel's character, the director Erich Von Leppe, is named after the part Boris Karloff played in The Terror.)
"Steve Miller has the plot: "When Candy (Candice  Rialson) arrives in Hollywood with dreams of being an actress, she falls in with the crazy low-budget filmmakers at Miracle Studios. It soon turns out that one is more crazy than the rest, and Miracle Pictures' starlets keep getting murdered. Will Candy die before she achieves stardom?"
"Well, [that's] something like a plot. You can hardly tag it as an example of Shakespearean narrative structure. It is more like you could enter or leave the theater at a random moment without having the feeling you missed something. This was an artistic component of the concept David Lynch had in mind for his film Mulholland Dr. (2001 / trailer), so there must be a disposition on this type of itineraries. For Hollywood Boulevard the creators had been taking advantage of being involved into the making of exploitation features and they did not hesitate to profit from gossip and rumours surrounding the industry as well. Of course there is no way to do this in a serious way, so it became a giddy movie within a movie comedy. [Amazing Slackery]"
"Arkush and Dante's film cleverly and affectionately spoofs exploitation movies, but it's also an exploitation movie itself, and it sometimes crosses the line separating satire of exploitation-movie tropes and crass exploitation of them, particularly during a comically gratuitous rape scene that somehow leads to a second, separate rape scene. The directors' ability to inject innocence into a film crawling with gratuitous sex, nudity, violence, and sexual abuse says much about the Corman contingent's unique ability to be creepy and strangely endearing at the same time. For those willing to overlook periodic missteps into the nether regions of bad taste, Hollywood Boulevard is the sort of scrappy, resourceful, smart B-movie that threatens to give shameless opportunism a good name. [AV Film]"
 
Teenage Frankenstein, which likes the movie but thinks that "some gross rape jokes and an oddly extended stalk and slash sequence leave a bad aftertaste", says that "the debut film from Joe Dante and Allan Arkush is a both a loving tribute to grade-b filmmaking made by movie buffs and a shameless piece of schlock itself. It's rough around the edges, but few parodies can pull off this balancing act. […]. The film is unsurprisingly stolen by Dick Miller as her agent Walter Paisley and Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel in their first onscreen pairing. The film […] is an enjoyable slapdash exploitation riffing on a beloved formula. It's essentially New World's version of King Vidor's (8 Feb 1894 – 1 Nov 1982) Show People (1928 / scene)."

Coming eventually:
R.I.P. Dick Miller, Part V: 1977-80

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...