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VAN NUYS BLVD is another Crown International teen film that shows what a different place America was in the 1970's. Kids cruise around for sex, drugs and bad disco music. They also get to go to jail and then go to Magic Mountain the next day. Why I live for these movies I'll never know. Lots of drag racing, cool cars and hot chicks round out a film about doing nothing that totally makes a movie-watching SESSION a memorable experience. Recommended for the right people.
I appreciate that having been born in 1946, I don't really have the right to review this film. My period is 1968/69, some ten years before this and boy does it show! Here, the car has already become God once more, the dancing looks more like aerobics and the music! Well, I got through prog rock and even punk but this disco sound was beyond me. Amazing though just how early the 'eighties' began because this really looks absolutely on the button for the eighties and yet was presumably made no later than 1978 if it came out in '79. As others have mentioned no plot to speak of, lots of very cute naked bodies, but, for me, too much motoring, too much fairground riding and too much of that music. For anyone ten years younger, however, probably absolutely essential viewing.
The film footage at the beginning and end of Van Nuys Boulevard accurately portrays the action and excitement of what life was like cruising the boulevard. By the time I cruised there in 1981 there were plenty of college and high school students hanging out, cruising and racing. Car clubs gathered in parking lots. I was 22 attending college and my dad bought me a 1978 Corvette. I cruised there in the summer and I will never forget the adventure. It truly was just like in the movie and better. You made friends easily and there were always street races. In the fall of 1981 the LAPD began barricading off the boulevard and closing off traffic. This killed the adventure and those times are gone forever. Having been there, Van Nuys Boulevard is a nostalgic return to the past and a memorable way of remembering a great time of American youth.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At the tail end of the swinging 70s is William Sachs' Van Nuys Blvd.
Crown International is a movie company fast moving up as one of my
favorite guilty pleasures in that they released fodder directly
targeted towards a specific audience, catering to a drive-in crowd. I
sadly never had a chance to partake first hand the drive-in experience
which is too bad and so I have to live vicariously through what is
presented to us on DVD. Just isn't quite the same, but what can you do?
Bill Adler stars as Bobby, a country kid yearning for the city action he watches on television regarding the "happening" spot of California's busy Van Nuys Blvd. where all types of people go to cruise and meet. He soon comes in contact with Moon(Cynthia Wood), a girl he drags against, along with her pal, Camille(Melissa Prophet). The three are soon arrested by notorious cop, Zass(Dana Gladstone), who has made it a vendetta against the kids who attempt to raise a ruckus on "his strip." A likable / charming Dennis Bowen is Greg, a young man who spots Camille in the car with a jock, insisting that she was in a series of dreams he had(..an obvious homage to American Graffiti)and, in a gutsy move, gets out of his brother's ride to tell her, igniting the rage of her boyfriend..this sets off a truly memorable "celebration of destruction" as the two bash in each other's vehicles with tools.
Greg later meets up with Bobby, Moon, and Camille in jail(..on a wimpy jaywalking charge), igniting a blossoming friendship, and soon they are an inseparable pack, riding on roller coasters, hanging out at the local arcade, getting down at a popular disco floor, etc. Soon Bobby and Moon, Greg and Camille, each duo, finding themselves in love as the days and nights on Van Nuys Blvd provide quite a backdrop for them to do so.
David Hayward has the gem supporting role as an older regular who has been touring the blvd for quite some time, Cooch, soon himself finding romance in the car hop, Wanda(Tara Strohmeier). Wanda has a one night fling with Bobby not long after he arrives(..this guy bags plenty of babes in this movie, the lucky bastard)and they later meet when Cooch introduces her to the pack in what is appropriately awkward and rather amusing.
The running gag of the film has Officer Zass hand-cuffed to his police car thanks to Wanda who retaliates after the cop got a bit too fresh with her, demanding sexual gratification despite her resistance. He spends a good portion of the film this way as he comes in contact with a biker who lifts his wallet and other possessions and a dog who buries the keys to his cuffs in the sand.
William Sachs effectively captures this period of time with quite a flavor, establishing the liberated and free sexual lifestyle concerning one-night stands, randy behavior between people who simply meet up and shag as if they were sharing smokes. A plethora of lovely ladies(..many quite naked)pass through the film and most are uninhibited, willing to buck conventional mores for a good time with whatever man fits their fancy.
The 70's to me is like a whole alternate universe where we witness a type of unpredictable, live and free, engaging yet racy, atmosphere of sex and independence, where the rules of the establishment seemed shattered, where barriers which may've existed before were removed. Granted, a lot of what you might see is slightly altered and skewed, but the cinema of the time expressed a different, less oppressive, less-politically correct world, unlike the world I myself live in today's more modern times. While I thoroughly loathe disco music, I find myself drawn to the styles, culture, this whole scene, a fad that swell and burst..the strobe lights, bright red light which set off a distinctive hue, and those unusual dance moves where gyrating bodies boogie down, those in attendance out there without a care in the world, cutting loose on the floor. I guess this whole time came and went while I was a pup, born as the decade was winding down. Like other films of it's type, Sachs' Van Nuys Blvd casts a fond light on the colorful personalities, lascivious activities, amorous girls, and the overall spirit the 70's had to offer. There is an emphasis on competition, as Bobby(..and Cooch, to a certain degree)must win a race against Moon, to prove his manhood, an ego-trip he will have to deviate from in order to maintain the love of his new girl. The very attractive leads are easy to cozy up to, and the whole movie has a gregarious appeal that, to me, off-sets the rather lurid content that is certain to be off-putting to a more conservative audience. Alas, this is what makes discovering these Drive-in flicks so worthwhile.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cocky, blustery, bored stiff country boy Bobby (swaggering Bill Adler)
drives his souped-up van to Los Angeles in search of kicks and
competition. Bobby falls a** over teakettle in love with assertive,
self-assured rival lady driver Moon (adorable '74 "Playboy" Playmate of
the Year Cynthia Wood) and befriends hip, brawny greaser Chooch
(hulking David Hayward), Chooch's insatiable nympho carhop main squeeze
Wanda (cuddly, curly-haired perennial 70's B-movie cutie starlet Tara
Strohmeier of "Hollywood Boulevard" and "The Kentucky Fried Movie"),
wide-eyed naif Greg (boyishly affable Dennis Bowen), and Greg's foxy
gal pal Camille (lovely brunette knockout Melissa Prophet).
William ("The Incredible Melting Man") Sachs' airy, aimless, virtually plot-less episodic script follows the sextet's silly misadventures as they ride roller coasters at the amusement park, cruise the strip, disco dance to flickering strobe lights at the local clubs, play pinball at the arcade, race their mean machines, and fall in love under the twinkling California stars. Sach's throwaway direction lets the rickety narrative ramble in enjoyably ramshackle fashion, neatly capturing a righteously funky lowdown cool tone, offering up a highly satisfying plenitude of bare female flesh and simulated soft-core sex, and punctuating the sub-"American Graffiti" antics with frequent dashes of sophomoric humor. Uptight killjoy cop Al Zass (balding dork Dana Gladstone) winds up handcuffed to his police car on a sweltering hot beach. A busty babe flashes her breasts at the fuzz. A mysterious leather-clad motorcycle mama (statuesque eyeful Di Ann Monaco) picks up Greg so she can have sex with him. A grunting pig runs amok on Malibu beach. Ken Mansfield and Ron Wright's catchy humming score pulsates to a throbbing disco beat. Joseph Mangine's bright, shiny, neon-reflecting cinematography gives the groovy after hours action a glittering nighttime glow. Sure, this likeably brainless Crown International Pictures drive-in piffle never really goes anywhere, but it provides a good deal of oddly pleasing dumb fun just the same.
I watched VAN NUYS BLVD as part of BCI Eclipse' Drive-in Cult Classics
(featuring Crown International Pictures releases) on DVD.
As a teenager growing up in the 70s the only thing I remember about the movie is my friend telling me about the mooning scene during the opening of the film.
I had never seen the film until now, so it seems tame; and, in the director's words "almost innocent." That is certainly true by today's standards; but I am sure it was quite scandalous for the times.
VAN NUYS BLVD is about Wednesday night's cruise scene in Los Angeles, on the boulevard of the same name. It packs in a lot of drag racing, super cool cars, dumb cops; and, hot chicks, with a side trip to Magic Mountain, to boot!
The musical score features a pulsating disco beat; and, the opening song is fun and funky!
VAN NUYS BLVD is very much in the same vein of the more famous (and better movie), "American Graffiti" released two years earlier.
My friend and I ended up in LA in 1986; but by then the cruise scene was gone forever. Nevertheless, for those that have been there, VAN NUYS BLVD is a nice bit of nostalgia for 1970s California living.
Only moments into VAN NUYS BLVD did I realize I was in for something special. I sat in my seat expecting another brainless teenager romp, but boy, was I ever wrong! This film celebrates innocence and individualism while commenting on commitment and making sacrifices. Mix in a little sex, nudity and a few liberal profanities and you have a shockingly sweet, amazingly hip teen exploitation picture the whole family could enjoy!
I came across this movie when it was playing on BRAVO, and since they don't show commercials I had no time to get distracted by something else. It's not a particularly good movie, but fun, and something about it kept me watching until 3 in the morning. Probably because I missed the beginning, so I never figured out which guy was the hick, as mentioned on the satelleite summary. That and Cynthia Wood. Wow she looks sweet in this movie. Writer/Director Sachs somehow manages to attach a subplot to no plot. It's an interesting 'slice of life' film that rates high on kitch, low on substance.
VAN NUYS BLVD. is a near-plot less slice of late '70s exploitation from
those guys at Crown International Pictures. This one attempts to gather
interest from various sources so it comes across as a mix of road
movie, disco flick, and teen sex comedy. There's nudity thrown into the
mix, along with scenes of racing and even long, protracted moments of
disco dancing that go on for twenty minutes or more.
None of it particularly sticks, and I think it's fair to note that this is a dull and relatively pointless movie. Unless, that is, you're interested in the era, in which case it's a fun snapshot of its time allowing you to checking out the fashions, the cars, and the music scene in the wake of GREASE and Saturday NIGHT FEVER. The young actresses are attractive, but the male performers are pretty hopeless, and the tries-to-be-funny script just doesn't cut it. Writer/director William Sachs also helmed THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, which on the strength of this I would say was his best movie.
A popular Los Angeles drag is the place which draws people from far and
wide for good times. A bored young man arrives here on the hope of fun
Van Nuys Blvd. is a film from b-movie producers Crown International Films that seems to be heavily influenced by the earlier American Graffiti (1973). Like that one, it's a pretty episodic affair but is instead set in contemporary times, in this case the disco era. It centres on a group of characters who frequent the boulevard teens, old-heads and cops. It works pretty well on the whole due to decent characters and fun period feel. Its not especially funny and works better in dramatic terms. A decent bit of 70's west coast Californian nostalgia on the whole.
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