Hollywood Boulevard (Joe Dante & Allan Arkush / U.S., 1976):

A Corman-school offshoot, made on a casual studio dare yet brimming with more genuine feeling for the medium’s heartbreaking marvels than all of Day for Night. A tag-team effort by Joe Dante and Allan Arkush as a vibrant reward for pumping juice into trailer after trailer for New World Pictures, and the coming-attractions cutter’s sense of flea-hopping gaggery is already evident as the heroine strolls into the Tinseltown of Pussycat Theatres and roller-derby epics and Candice Rialson earns her Carole Lombard reference. The ingénue mistakes a bank robbery for a Big Bad Mama romp, the hepcat-agent extraordinaire (Dick Miller) leads her to cheapjack Miracle Pictures ("If it’s a good picture, it’s a Miracle") for their latest opus, Machete Maidens of Moratau. Paul Bartel, the visionary in pith helmet and riding crop, introduces the hopefuls to the Filipino shoot: "A delightful scene. You girls massacre 300 Asiatic soldiers." The diva (Mary Woronov) complains about the project’s tackiness, and, in between chunks of footage pulled from the Corman arsenal (The Terror, The Big Doll House, Death Race 2000), the stuntwomen start getting killed. The studio is too cheap to wait for stripteases so a hose is turned on a row of starlets in halter tops, Rialson’s roll in the hay with the screenwriter (Jeffrey Kramer) is serenaded by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, the pissed-father-turned-rapist at the drive-in premiere ("Even worse than television!") is portrayed by future Ford scholar Joseph McBride -- self-reflexivity floats in movie-buff glee and porno goofiness. The slapped-together élan is so enchanting that Dante and Arkush would look back at this marvelous fountain of youth for Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and Looney Tunes: Back in Action. With Rita George, Tara Strohmeier, Richard Doran, John Kramer, Robby the Robot, and Jonathan Demme as Godzilla.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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