The Original Version Of This Article Can Be Found Here At Moon In The Gutter.
Joe Dante's and Alan Arkush's 1976 film, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, for Roger Corman's New World Pictures is an absolute treasure of in-jokes and allusions for film lovers. The film, which stars the lovely and much missed Candice Rialson, is one of the great films made about films; specifically in this case low budget exploitation films of the seventies.
Joe Dante is one of those great directors who wears his love for film clearly on his sleeve, as his work is often often filled with sly nods and outright tributes to his favorite pictures. HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD is an incredibly funny send up and tribute to the exploitation film genre, of which HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD is proud to be a part of.
The film is scattered with stock footage from other Corman productions from the seventies including DEATH RACE 2000 and BIG DOLL HOUSE. Dante had been working as an editor on New World's incredible trailers and HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD'S quick and clever editing is one of it's biggest assets. This is a deliciously fast moving and entertaining picture that demands repeat viewings to get not only all of the references, but also all of the jokes.
Co-director Alan Arkush makes, along with Dante, his major film directorial debut and he would of course deliver the glorious ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (also with Dante's assistance) just a few years after HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD. His other 70's film, the sci-fi action epic DEATHSPORT, is also notable if just for the casting of the talented and tragic Claudia Jennings.
HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD was reportedly shot in less than two weeks and features, along with Rialson, some of New World's brightest and funniest stars including Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Rita George and of course Dick Miller. Bartel, as the egotistical out of control director, is particularly brilliant and it remains one of my favorite performances by him.
The sharp sun drenched photography is very well done here by cinematographer Jamie Anderson. Anderson has gone on to work on a few of Dante's productions including PIRANHA and SMALL SOLDIERS. It is also worth pointing out that Anderson filmed Claudia Jennings the same year in the similarly lit THE GREAT TEXAS DYNAMITE CHASE, another seventies jewel that deserves a wider audience.
The film hops several genres in it's breezy 83 minute running time including action pictures, gangster films, sexploitation, horror, a very odd musical sequence and of course the women in prison film. It wears it's un-pc stamp proudly and with the release of GRINDHOUSE it is a shame that the anniversary dvd (featuring a fine commentary) is still currently out of print.
HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD'S brightest spot remains the delectable and hilarious Rialson. Looking very much like a young Michelle Pfeiffer, this is Rialson's greatest role and proof positive that she deserved much more of a career than she ever received. The opening credit sequence where she is excitedly walking down the Hollywood Walk Of Fame has become particularly poignant since her untimely death a couple of years ago. She is simply breathtaking throughout the film...funny, alive, sexy and just unforgettable.
Joe Dante's HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD should be required viewing for all film lovers and students. It is a textbook example on how to make a great low budget film about films and its prideful stance as an exploitation picture crammed with nudity, off-kilter humor and violence is especially enduring.
Dante really started to cook after this with the one two knockout punch of PIRANHA and THE HOWLING. Rialson was derailed by her next film, CHATTERBOX, and her career never fully recovered. She remains one of the seventies brightest lights and HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD isn't just a good film, but it is a small miracle.