5/31/13

HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS [1980]




In this day and age of vulgar, gross-out comedies like Madea's Hangover, it is hard to remember a simpler, gentler time in film comedies.  If a line has to be drawn, a boundary established, a single movie taking all the blame, then HERC nominates 1978's Animal House as Ground Zero, the one that changed everything.



One of the first films to walk through the raunchy comedy door that Animal House kicked open was The Hollywood Knights. Probably best described as two parts Animal House and one part American Graffiti, the events in Knights take place on Halloween Night 1965 in Beverly Hills, which is portrayed as an uptight bastion of hypocritical adults closing down Tubby's Drive-In 9"Home of The Big One!"), the local teen hangout.  The titular (such a fun word!) car club take it upon themselves to prank, humiliate and ridicule the Beverly Hills Residents Society.  Fart jokes, drag racing and Michelle Pfieffer in white go-go boots ensue.


Written and directed by Floyd Mutrix, who had directed American Hot Wax two years earlier, Knights marks the film debuts of Pfieffer, Robert Wuhl and Tony Danza.  Fran Drescher, who appeared in American Hot Wax, also stars.  It's rated R for raunchy language, humor and nudity.  HERC considers it a guilty pleasure and therefore cannot recommend it to anyone who appreciates quality films.  But if you like cheesy, nostalgic movies with killer soundtracks, then by all means seek out The Hollywood Knights.  After years of unavailability, the movie can now be had on VHS, DVD and blu-ray as well as major streaming services.




An official soundtrack album was released on Casablanca Records featuring twelve tracks from the more than 30 featured in the movie.  The album's cover art features someone mooning the camera with his crack covered by a license plate styled sticker.  The "moon" is actually die-cut and opens to a gatefold featuring the picture at the top of this post without license plate and without the "Exposed at theaters..." dateline.  (For a better view of the gatefold, see video below.)



"Hollywood Knights", the movie's theme song, is the first track on the album and is performed by Casablanca recording artists Brooklyn Dreams, who also appear on-screen as a doo-wop group in the talent show scene performing two songs: "Runaround Sue" and "I Wonder Why".  The three man group (one of whom married Donna Summer) had also appeared in American Hot Wax as The Planotones.


The above video features the album version of the song which later showed up on the group's compilation, Music, Harmony and Rhythm: The Casablanca Years.  A slightly different version of the song, with a more doo-woppish beginning, was featured over the film's closing credits.  Listen to it below.


Don't forget to share your memories of The Hollywood Knights in the comments.  For HERC, 1965 will always be remembered as the year a young couple watched the submarine races from the muddy banks of the mighty Brazos River before tying the knot four months later.  It's also the blessed year of birth of MRS. HERC.

2 comments:

  1. The thing that always bugged me about this movie was in the scene where The Mamas & The Papas' "California Dreaming" is playing. I used to think "that's a bit too late for a movie that seems to take place in a specific time", but... the movie takes place in late October/early November 1965. "California Dreaming" was released (according to Wiki) September 1965, so its use would be correct.

    Compared to the movies you mentioned, it has a lot of flaws but it holds up for being wholesome and cheesy fun, and of course being where the New Bomb Turks got their name.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That song does seem out of place to me given the tone of the rest of the movie but it was used to convey the sobering sentiment of the guy going off to Vietnam or whatever, right?

    There are some films I hold historically accountable and others I do not. (See last song in American Graffiti.)

    Spent some quality time with the microfiche here in The Hideaway Research Library and documented the Billboard Hot 100 Chart run of "California Dreamin'":

    12/25/65 #116
    01/01/66 #103
    01/08/66 #099
    01/15/66 #074
    01/22/66 #054
    01/29/66 #044
    02/05/66 #033
    02/12/66 #023
    02/19/66 #016
    02/26/66 #008
    03/05/66 #005
    03/12/66 #004
    03/19/66 #007
    03/26/66 #007
    04/02/66 #007
    04/09/66 #010
    04/16/66 #016
    04/23/66 #019
    04/30/66 #026

    and then it dropped off the chart after 19 weeks. Must have been some chart methodology that kept older songs from hanging around once they dropped out of Top 25.

    Or maybe the label put all of their focus on the follow-up "Monday, Monday" which cracked the Top 10 after just three weeks on it's way to #1.

    Over on Tunecaster, "California Dreamin'" became a Number One on March 26 and held the top spot for two weeks after cracking Top 20 on Feb. 12. By April 13, the song was out of the Tunecaster Top 20 as "Monday, Monday" was in Top 20 on it's way to the pinnacle.

    ReplyDelete