Days are numbers film night no 14 hollywood boulevard
Here at Days Are Numbers we are huge fans of irrepressible super-producer and Hollywood kingmaker Roger Corman, so much so in fact that it’s a wonder we haven’t shown any of the great man’s films at one of our fantastic film nights yet. Well, we will go some way to making up for that with the next one, which will be on 25/04/2013 at the Montpelier in Peckham, natch.
Whilst Hollywood Boulevard isn’t a Roger Corman film per se (he neither directly produced nor directed it) it is a product of his New World Pictures stable in its schlock-tastic 1970s heyday and was made as the direct result of a bet made by Corman that producer Jon Davison couldn’t turn in the studio’s cheapest ever feature. Rising to this challenge, Davison devised a scheme in which he would shoot an entire film on the left-over ends of shooting reels and beef up what he had with unused footage from a range of other New World films. To bring this patchwork yet plucky plot to life he roped in a pair of aspiring filmmakers that had been knocking about the studio’s trailer department; Joe Dante and Allan Arkush, both making their directorial debut.
As perhaps inevitably becomes a film that consists of sizable portions of other films, Hollywood Boulevard concerns itself with the movie biz, the B-movie biz to be exact, with the action centred around Miracle Pictures – a lovingly self-deprecating fictionalised version of New World itself(company motto: “If the picture’s good, it’s a Miracle!”). Into this low-rent, high-octane world steps aspiring actress Candy Wednesday, determined to make it to the top and prepared to do just about anything to get there. However, as her decidedly grubby star begins its rather shabby ascent (her first big premier is staged at a seedy drive-in), things quickly take a turn for the sinister and it seems that somebody is systematically murdering Miracle’s prized starlets one-by-one with Candy herself apparently next on the hit-list… Why it all sounds like something from a B-movie!
As perhaps inevitably becomes a film that is the work of two different directors, Hollywood Boulevard is a little bit uneven, but that’s a big part of the fun and with its host of New World alumni (from actors to other directors and producers) largely playing themselves, it’s best to view the whole shebang as a kind of anarchic end-of-year revue that pokes fun at both the school and the teachers. That’s not to say that Allan Arkush (who went on to do The Ramones musical Rock ‘n’ Roll High School for New World) and Joe Dante (subsequently the director of many fine films) don’t turn in the odd moment of genuine brilliance – in particular the latter’s moodily shot and pacily rendered Mario Bava homage during the murder-mystery plot certainly amounts to some sterling work. Hollywood Boulevard itself is also, perhaps confusingly, very much the kind of film it is simultaneously satirising and along with the in-jokes and deadpan humour we are also treated to a handful of genuinely risque moments, most notably the veritable onslaught of bare-breasted women featured throughout – you have been warned!