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|Index||24 reviews in total|
William Smith plays Lonnie Johnson, an aging race car driver, who's
FastCo Motor Treatment, represented by John Saxon, is about to can him due
their quest for a youthful and cheaper image. Claudia Jennings is his
long-distance girlfriend in a not wholly original, but fascinating look at
the traveling race-car circuit and it's casualties.
This may be the ultimate drive-in feature; part-documentary, part-exploitation puncuated by moments of eerie silence that proves Cronenberg can do anything he wants with any type of material and make it interesting. Strange, lingering scenes of mechanics maintaining vehicles with up-close clinical precision (as well as surreal inside-the-car camerawork) will satisfy Cronenberg's most hardcore fans, as well as the sense of desolation and alienation amongst the highways, broken-down racetracks, and most importantly, the fans and drivers of the Pacific Northwest. This may be Cronenberg's most interesting film, since it's material you would never expect him to tackle, and because it's the least-seen movie in his catalogue. Highly recommended and worth tracking down by any means necessary.
Fast Company (1979) is an interesting film by David Cronenberg. He took
a departure from his clinical horror films and made a quasi mainstream
film dealing with hot rods and the sleazy sideshow aspect of them.
Unlike most films of this genre, Cronenberg takes a look at the shady
business that the promoters of the drivers do to try a make a buck
whenever they can. Most times at the expense of the driver's safety and
welfare. I wasn't expecting much from this movie but I was quite
surprised at the results. All-American tough guy William Smith plays
the lead whilst John Saxon co-stars as his shady promoter/ manager.
In the hands of any other director, this movie wouldn't have been that watchable. But Cronenberg works with what he has and creates a visually appealing movie. The inside shots of the driver was very well done. In some scenes the driver looks as if he's part of the machine! The camera catches the action and you can feel yourself being dragged along at 200 plus miles an hour. The film follows these drivers as the go from one small town to another performing in front of small crowds. This movie neither glamorizes or denegrate the "sport". It just documents it.
Like I said in the beginning, I wasn't expecting much (maybe because this movie wasn't widely released if at all in the U.S.A.) but I was surprisingly pleased with the end results. I would have to recommend this film for Cronenberg and William Smith fans.
A sentence with the words "David Cronenberg" and "car racing movie" isn't exactly something you hear every day, but yes, Cronenberg did in fact make one in the late 70s in between his horror classics 'Rabid' and 'The Brood'. Very few people outside of Canada have seen 'Fast Company', and as Cronenberg is my favourite contemporary director I've been intrigued about it for years. Now that Blue Underground have released a restored version on DVD we can all finally get to see it. Now I'd love to be able to say that's it's some kind of lost masterpiece and essential viewing for Cronenberg buffs, but to be honest it's just an enjoyable b-grade racing movie, the kind of flick AIP would have released without a blink of an eye. I seriously doubt that anyone who watched it not knowing who directed it would be able to guess that Cronenberg was involved. He himself regards it as an important movie in his career, as it was another step in his learning how to make "real" movies, and because he also met several key future collaborators. That historical interest aside it's by far the most "normal" and therefore least interesting movie he's made to date. The movie is helped immeasurably by having b-grade legends William Smith ('Run, Angel, Run', 'Invasion Of The Bee Girls', 'Boss N*gger', 'The Ultimate Warrior') and John Saxon ('Planet Of Blood', 'Enter The Dragon', 'Black Christmas', 'Cannibal Apocalypse') as leads. Smith plays Lonnie Johnson a racer under pressure from his sponsors, who are represented by the back stabbing Saxon. The two work well together and by the looks of the short interview included on the DVD seem like great buddies. The late Claudia Jennings (her final role) plays Smith's love interest Sammy, and Nicholas Campbell, who subsequently acted in Cronenberg's 'The Brood', 'The Dead Zone' and 'Naked Lunch', plays his cocky protege Billy "The Kid" Brocker. The main problem with the movie apart from the awful sub-Springsteen "rawk" score, is a dull script. With a bit more work the movie really could have been something special , but as it stands 'Fast Company' is little more than an interesting curio for fans of Cronenberg and/or 70s exploitation movies.
When I go to see a movie, I try not to tear it apart and deduce what "hidden
messages" may or may not be in it. This movie is plainly and simply an
excellent movie about a drag racing team and the wrongs dealt them from
their sponsor's track rep, and the interesting way they get even with him.
The script and dialogue are the most accurate portrayal of the sport that I
have seen yet...the producer/writers obviously knew their stuff and have
actually *been* to a dragstrip, not merely "speculated" about
Highly recommend this movie as one of the "must see"'s for those who are a fan of the sport, or who are even curious to get a taste for it. (This coming from a gal who "grew up on the track".)
AN AWESOME MUSEUM PIECE OF 70'S DRAG RACING "B" DRIVE-IN MOVIE HISTORY!
As other reviewers have said, this is not Cronenberg's best movie, but you need to understand even though it came out in 1979, it was shot way before that, and was one of his first movies of this commercial nature, actually his first movie with a budget of over a million dollars. So? So lighten up a bit, and look at what is there, not what lacking!
Yes, I agree with the blackxmas review above, but beg you all to view this as a "moment in time", in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Spokane, Washington, USA. You have to, otherwise it won't stand up to criticism using current movie criteria. In other words, do not buy this movie if you want an intriguing plot and award-winning acting! LOL But if you know a person who went to these two drag strips back in the 70s, make their day with this one!
I am not going to add any more film criticism here, but wanted to make the point that it is rare movie because of the age of this famous film maker, because few VHS copies were ever released and because it is a Northern-made drive in movie made by a young Canadian film maker. Yes, Canadian. LOL And, oh yes---- a certain November 1969 Playboy model named Claudia Jennings was featured in this movie, and tragically, and perhaps ironically, lost her life in a car accident shortly after. So, yes, I think Fatss Company is a collector's movie.
**Canada had just started offering incentives to U.S. film makers to come up north, so David was in the right place at the right time. A long string of very famous movies have been shot here in Alberta, and Brad Pitt is getting ready to star in a movie about Jesse James--right here--- as I am typing this.
One last thing: If you look VERY carefully in the stands near the crash scene, you may be able to see me in my Mopar ball cap----yes, I was there. Hey Honey--we're out of popcorn! See you at the movies!
The famous drag racer Lonnie 'Lucky Man' Johnson (William Smith) is the
star of the Fast Company, managed by the corrupt Phil Adamson (John
Saxon) Lonnie is the mentor of the promising funny car racer Billy 'The
Kid' Brocker (Nicholas Campbell). When Adamson makes a deal with
Lonnie's competitor Gary 'The Blacksmith' Black (Cedric Smith), he
takes the funny car from Lonnie and Billy. But they decide to steal the
car and run independently in the next race. But Adamson intends to use
any means to stop Loonie.
"Fast Company" is an incredibly dull film by David Cronenberg. The film is indicated only for fans of this great director that want to know his complete filmography and fans of drag racing. This film is the last one for the gorgeous Claudia Jennings that ironically died in a car accident in the same year. My vote is five.
Title (Brazil): "Escuderia do Poder" ("Motor-Racing Team of the Power")
Okay it's not the world's greatest movie, or even the greatest movie ever made about drag racing (that would probably be 'Heart Like A Wheel') but it does have its moments and there was a lot of effort put in to ensure the technical side of things was correct. Filmed entirely in Canada around Canadian dragstrips there is a sense of what life on the road is really like. Yes the characters are rather one dimensional - good guys wear white, bad guys wear black and snarl a lot, and the stunts do look like the camera was over-cranked but any true car fan will find it holds their interest, the first time anyway. Especially if you think of it more as a documentary than a movie. Plus the cars and female leads look great. I agree the ending is lousy though.
Fast Company (1979) is truly great B-cinema despite the tendencies of
scholastic indifference. Whether its lack of reception has been due to
lack of availability, its straight-to-Beta stigma or, most probable, an
audience's disregard for anything differing from the Cronenbergian
macabre is open for debate. What is certain is that this effort, his
first with a budget exceeding the million-dollar mark, was a precursor
to the personal trajectory of The Brood (1979).
Divorce proceedings underway, David changed focus to his consuming passion of the automobile. The final product was a decent drag strip movie, "a good B-Movie" he admits. The good versus evil tension included in most racing films is combined with some point of view shots from the car racers proper, in itself, well worth the price of the rental. Spending most of the film arguing with John Saxon, his greasy sponsor from Fast Company Motor Oil, William Smith plays Lonnie 'Lucky Man' Johnson, whose iconic status as drag strip guru is tested race after race. His real stroke of luck however comes through his on screen squeeze, November 1969 Playboy Playmate Claudia Jennings. This marked consecutive attempts at casting notables from the adult industry.
Attempting to recreate the similar appeal and subsequent audience draw that worked for him in Rabid, Ms Jennings' luck ran out in an ironic off-screen car-accident, taking her young life shortly after the film was completed.
Stuck between "Scanners" and "The Brood", "Fast Company" is quite a strange movie among David Cronenberg's filmography. Apparently giving away his ambitious and usual themes, Cronenberg makes a pure entertainment, very close to Burt Reynolds' universe ! So what happened? Cronenberg's attachment to this film leads us to think it could be hiding something deeper. And in fact, one of the main Cronenbergian obsessions is the subject of the film : the car races are a metaphoric expression of "the re-building of the human body by technology". Is the movie any good ? Well, for a Cronenberg fan, it's quite interesting. Others should watch a REAL Burt Reynold movie !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Almighty B-movie he-man William Smith calls his own shots, fights to
keep his integrity and stubbornly refuses to knuckle under to the Man's
rigid stay on the narrow path and just do what you're told nonsense as
fiercely autonomous and uncompromising champion professional race car
driver Lonny "Lucky Man" Johnson, a rugged individualist in excelsis
who butts heads with venal crudbag big company greedy jerk Phil (John
Saxon in peak snaky, slimy, lizard charisma oozing from every scuzzy
pore form) and attempts to rekindle the flame with supportive, but
long-suffering erstwhile old lady Sammy (a lively, luminous performance
by late, great, simply gorgeous 70's drive-in movie goddess Claudia
Jennings in her final film role).
David Cronenberg's typically precise, meticulous direction, ably abetted by Mark Irwin's sparkling, slicker-than-fresh-motor-oil cinematography, Fred Mollin's vivacious banjo-plucking and harmonica-wailing country and western score, rough-thrashing rock tunes by Michael Stanley, superlative acting, a firm, moving camaraderie between Smith and his pit crew, such always pleasing exploitation picture ingredients as a little nudity and soft-core sex, wild fisticuffs, gritty, ragged-around-the-edges iconoclastic characters, hard-hitting profane dialogue, and the expectedly thrilling pedal-pushed-to-the-near-breaking-point-medal neck-snappingly fast and dangerous racetrack action (said racetrack action smokes more than the faulty exhaust fumes on a freaky souped-up funny car), offers a tantalizingly vivid and absorbing evocation of the racetrack milieu and its funky subculture (fawning groupies, harshly competitive male rivalry, on the take race officials, grimy, incredibly loyal and courageous pit crews, faceless fascistic corporate sponsor scum) that's so exact and credible that it will overpower the viewer's nostrils with the fetid stench of hot sweat, filthy petrol, stale beer and greasy engines.
Better still, the gutsy, heartfelt script Cronenberg co-wrote with Phil Savoth and Courtney Smith tackles head-on the eternally winning and right-on theme of a "be your own self and to hell with anyone who tries to cramp my style"-type loner nonconformist daring to stand up to and willingly defy the staid, restrictive, it-don't-do-no-one-any-good sectarian code of conduct that anal retentive conformist bilge naturally epitomizes. A rowdy, rollicking and boisterously romping break-from-the-mold grindhouse feature departure for Cronenberg, this extremely entertaining and damn satisfying, but alas unjustly obscure and underrated motorhead outing deserves to be both better known and more widely seen. Fortunately, the outstanding Blue Underground DVD gives this honey the deluxe treatment: It's a beautiful widescreen presentation along with a fine and informative Cronenberg commentary, delightful interviews with William Smith, John Saxon, and Mark Irwin, the theatrical trailer, and a pretty extensive still and poster gallery.
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