A medieval reenactment troupe find it increasingly difficult to keep their family-like group together, with pressure from local law enforcement, interest from entertainment agents and a growing sense of delusion from their leader.
Chris Bradley is a young man who returns to his home city of Pittsburgh after several years of drifting and working odd jobs around the country since his discharge from the U.S. Army. Rejecting moving back in with his father and not wanting to return to the family business of manufacturing baby food, Chris meets and shacks up with Lynn, an older woman who works as a model in local TV commercials, and whom becomes his 'sugar mama' of supporting him financially and emotionally, which begins to put a strain on the affair especially when Lynn finds out that she's pregnant and does not feel that Chris would make a responsible father or husband. Written by
This is 'George A. Romero''s second film, and according to him, his worst. He stated that the writer was "very lazy" and showed little interest in the production, leaving halfway through the shooting. See more »
Chris... why don't you let me send you back to school? I might as well put my money to good use.
No thanks, Dad, I don't want to hold back my education.
You better come down out of those clouds, boy... or you're not going to be worth the powder to blow you to hell.
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As said here previously, THERE'S ALWAYS VANILLA is a far better film than its reputation suggests (or director Romero himself apparently believes). As with all his best work, the writing is snappy and original, and quite unlike his best work, it proves that he could have (had?) a career with non-horror pictures if he wished so.
The film is told in flashback, with the main character (played excellently by Raymond Laine) ruminating in seemingly improvised sequences about his failed relationship, as the film illustrates its path. Fascinatingly, it resembles nothing less than Woody Allen's ANNIE HALL from some six years later - and is the far better movie. Where Allen's "see? I'm a lovable schnook" persona made me want to murder him when I revisited the film recently, Laine's portrayal of a sort of anti-hero in emotional turmoil here actually rings true.
Among the many pleasures in the film is seeing various cast members of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (to say nothing of lead actress Judith Steiner) back again in completely different roles. But there are also a host of terrific set pieces, a great, HUSBANDS-like night of stoned debauchery with father and son among them.
It doesn't all work - there are two pretty awful sentimental montages which fail - but there's plenty of spirited jump-cutting, frame flashes and other unique touches which show a thoughtful stylistic hand at play. I wish Romero hadn't stopped with this "failure" - he certainly would have made a more interesting ANNIE HALL.
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