breaking free from the mirrorworld
in the allegorical film art
of Richard Rush
by Gary W. Wright
While too old to be a member of New Hollywood, Richard Rush and his allegorical docufeature film art clearly anticipated and influenced the allegorical docufeature film art of a new generation of young film artists around the world including the major film artists of New Hollywood such as Francis Coppola, William Friedkin, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese and such implicitly Rush and New Hollywood addressing Canadian film artists as James Cameron, David Cronenberg, Ted Kotcheff, and Bruce McDonald. A cautionary influence, for Rush implicitly opposed the emphasis on graphic sex and violence that was a hallmark of New Hollywood and the other young film artists of the world, and repeatedly warned film artists and audiences that these excesses in film art would lead to disaster and death on set and in life. All too apt and prescient warnings, as audiences, film art, film artists and the Temple Theatre were scarred and changed forever by the helicopter crash that killed actor/director/writer Vic Morrow and illegally hired and used child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le around 2:20 am in the early morning of July 23, 1982 on the George Folsey jr. produced John Landis set of the Frank Marshall executive produced and Kathleen Kennedy associate produced and allegorical Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller and Steven Spielberg docufeature film TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983). Significantly, but not surprisingly, due to his years as an indie documentary film artist, an indie docufeature style was already present and fully developed in the first allegorical Rush indie docufeature film TOO SOON TO LOVE (1960), a naïve but fine and moving film that Rush co-wrote, produced and directed in true auteur fashion that was released in February of 1960.
“I love you Kathy!
I’m gonna marry you,
I’m gonna take care of you!”
Fittingly, the raucous gang of rocking Boomer youth that commandeered a carnival ride one rowdy night at the beginning of the film-a Boomer gang unofficially led by a young Jack Nicholson’s Buddy, in the first of three film roles with Rush-immediately linked the film art of Rush to rebel boomer youth and rebel New Hollywood film artists. In this case literally, as Nicholson would soon co-direct the allegorical Roger Corman indie film THE TERROR (1963), making it fitting that the year of the release of TOO SOON TO LOVE was also the year that Jean-Luc Godard changed the world of film art and film artists forever with the iconoclastic, innovative and convention flaunting allegorical indie docufeature film A BOUT DE SOUFFLE aka BREATHLESS (1960). It was also fitting that two male Keystone Kops quickly arrived in hot pursuit of the rebel teens, for the police officers eerily anticipated the eventual backlash of the law and society against the film artists of New Hollywood after the TZ disaster. The swift arrival of the two burly police officers also brought tensions between a turbulent Boomer society and the law to the fore for the first time in a Rush film, and anticipated the immediate arrival of two Keystone Kops out to arrest a fugitive criminal named Cameron aka Cam-played by Steve Railsback-in a roadside diner at the beginning of the eerily and presciently twilit and allegorical Rush indie docufeature film THE STUNT MAN (1980).
Significantly, the cops collared and confronted two teens who had not been able to run away in time, the James Dean resembling James “Jim” Mills and the sweet and innocent blonde beauty, Kathleen “Kathy” Taylor-played by Richard Evans and Jennifer West, respectively-in a fittingly awkward, geeky, gawky, naïve and self-conscious performance that perfectly fitted not only the awkward, geeky, gawky, naive and self-conscious naivete of adolescence but of all first feature films. Released by the two cops with a warning not to stay out past their curfew again, the two lonely teens made their way home. Significantly, the shy and tentative but slowly swelling love that blossomed between the starcrossed teens on their way home and the furious backlash their love provoked from the adult world-particularly from Kathy’s stern, stodgy, stuffy, square and all too fittingly named father Mr. Norman “Norm” Taylor [played by Warren Parker]-not only anticipated the equally shy and tentative and slowly swelling, starcrossed but sweet and wholesome young love that blossomed between Cam and film actress Nina Franklin-played by Barbara Hershey-and the backlash that that love would provoke from the older, commanding, demanding, intimidating and crassly manipulative film artist Eli Cross-played by Peter O’Toole-in THE STUNT MAN, but also the furious backlash from Old Hollywood and older adult society that the young film artists of New Hollywood and the rest of the world received when their equally passionate love of film art led them to self-finance and create their own.
Significantly, Jim was so enchanted by Kathy that he decided to impress her by purchasing an antiquated old boat of a car from his Walt Disney resembling and possibly linked bachelor barber friend Hugh “Hughie” Wineman-played by Ralph Manza-so as to impress and drive around Kathy, a purchase that also anticipated THE STUNT MAN. For an equally old, long and anachronistic car-this one a Dusenberg-featured prominently in, and was eventually driven by, Cam, in the pentultimate stunt in THE STUNT MAN. Indeed, Rush openly anticipated Cam’s link to film art by having Jim work at the concession stand of a suburban L.A. drive-in-making TOO SOON TO LOVE the first of many Rush films to be openly set on the Pacific coast-where the young hero gallantly rescued Kathy from the brutish and overbearing attention of Buddy on her first visit. The sight and sound of Jim and Kathy experiencing their first major kissing session in the car on a clifftop to the sound of the film’s swelling love theme while overlooking the familiar lights of L.A., the ominous site of the future TZ disaster, reaffirmed the link of Jim and Kathy to film art. The fact that Jim was initially solely reflected in Hughie’s barbershop mirror as he pleaded with the older man to sell him his old car for $100 before the older bachelor added his equally fantastic reflection to the scene when he finally acquiesced to Jim’s pleas and gave him the keys reinforced the car’s link to celluloid fantasy, a link of cars, mirrors and other reflective surfaces to fantasy that returned in THE STUNT MAN.
Alas for Hughie and Jim-and later Cam-these first mirror reflections were also the first signals in a Rush film that two characters were departing from the grounded, stable, sane and law abiding real world and entering an ungrounded, unstable, insane and lawless mirror nightmare world-the Twilight Zone, if you will-a signal not invented by Rush, for Jean Renoir used it as early as 1938 in the allegorical docufeature film LA BETE HUMAINE (1938), which implicitly roasted King Edward VIII, his American lover, Wallis Simpson, and Canadian Prime Minister William King. Indeed, to reaffirm the implication that a passionately unstable and crazy twilit mirror world had been entered, centrefolds were also seen on the walls of Huey’s barbershop when Jim pleaded to buy the car. This implication was also affirmed soon after buying the car and kissing on the clifftop when Jim and Kathy consummated their relationship one night on the rocky shore of a tempestuously surging L.A. beach. Significantly, the sight of Kathy taking off her hair ribbon before she fell down in an eager embrace with Jim signalled her acceptance of sex, while the sight of her losing the ribbon to the wild wind and the respectful way the camera turned away from the embracing lovers and followed the ribbon as it blew out into the turbulent surf before the point of view (POV) faded out signalled the loss of the virginity of Kathy, and the end of Act One.
Soon after in Act Two, Jim expressed his undying love for Kathy in the empty drive-in theatre, implicitly affirming that Jim symbolized a passionate young film artist declaring his equally passionate and undying love for film art. Indeed, Kathy’s blonde beauty and the fact that her full name Kathleen Taylor evoked that of Elizabeth Taylor, reigning screen queen at the time, implicitly affirmed the link of Kathy to film art. However, a jubilant Jim soon discovered to his horror that he had indeed walked and driven down an unstable and crazy mirrorworld path after buying the car from Hughie when a distraught Kathy told him she was pregnant. This caused Jim to travel even further down a lawless path when he counseled the sweet and horrified Kathy to have an illegal abortion. Unfortunately, no sooner did Jim counsel Kathy to have an abortion than he was back in Hughie’s barbershop, asking the unrepentant bachelor for help in procuring the illegal abortion for his beloved. Significantly, not only did Hughie provide Jim with the name and address of Billie Bird’s cynical and disreputable Mrs. Jefferson-suggesting that the bachelor barber was all too familiar with the abortion process-Hughie was also seen first in the barbershop mirror in the scene, and then dominated the mirror with his reflection throughout the rest of the scene, implicitly affirming that Jim and Hughie were indeed both travelling down the wrong path.
However, and lucky for Jim, Kathy and Hughie, the drive from the quiet L.A. suburbs to a dark and seamy city street filled with strip joints, battered bars and even more battered people, the tense walk down a grimy back alley to the ominous unmarked black door leading to Hell in the back of a beat up building-a diabolic destination all too fittingly complete with an empty Diablo vegetable box lying on top of the dirty garbage can outside-and the meeting with a traumatized young couple who mischievously resembled John and Jackie Kennedy, the young woman ashen faced, weeping and walking stiffly down the staircase inside were all so traumatic for the two loveswept teens-complete with suitably ominous music straight out of a Fifties horror film composed by the fittingly named Ronald Stein-that they fled the building and the literal back alley abortion and the lawless mirrorworld and returned to the rocky beach and the surging, natural, healing and soothing surf of their first lovemaking tryst that ended Act One to bemoan their plight and end Act Two.
Alas, Act Three quickly made clear that the two troubled teens had not fully left behind the lawless and unstable twilit mirrorworld, for Jim and a sympathetic real doctor-played by William Keene-tried to convince Kathy to have a legal abortion. This caused Jim to walk even further down the twilit mirrorworld path, for the five hundred dollars for the legal abortion was so expensive that Jim was forced to break in and rob the safe of the concession stand where he worked at the drive-in after work one desperate and distraught night. Curiously, this led Jim to be caught in the act by the Errol Flynn resembling drive-in manager, Mr. Corey-played by A.I. Smithee-who had returned after initially leaving to find his dropped keys and used his flashlight to find him huddled behind the concession stand counter with the stolen money before Jim fled the scene-a flashlight aided illegal discovery that would also figure prominently in THE STUNT MAN. Racing to Kathy’s house to give her the stolen money, Jim was horrified to see that the revelation that he had robbed the drive-in to pay for her abortion sent poor sweet Kathy over the edge, causing her to flee her house and Jim in her father’s newer car and race back to the surging and rock strewn beach that ended Acts One and Two and drown herself in the tempestuous surf to end Act Three on a truly Shakespearean note straight out of the allegorical play Romeo And Juliet (1596).
Luckily for Kathy, however, Jim severed the link to the end of Romeo and Juliet by following her in Hughie’s beater and throwing himself into the surf and rescuing her, anticipating Cam’s rescue of Nina in the surging surf off the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego bay at the beginning of THE STUNT MAN. The fact that Jim then pledged to marry sweet Kathy and look after her and the baby no matter what brought all three characters away from the horror of abortion and the unstable and twilit mirrorworld and back to the right path and healthy, life affirming reality at last no matter what the cost, implying the hope that the young and passionate film artists of the world that he anticipated emerging with their determined, low budget, do-it-yourself (DIY) docufeature film art in the Sixties would also make sane and stable choices that would help them succeed with their film art-and also implied that the process of making TOO SOON TO LOVE had made Rush more confident and hopeful that he would not abort his film career with this first sweet and self conscious film and that its success would give birth to a successful film artist life as devoted to film art as Jim was to Kathy, in the end.
And so most of the major elements of the best of the film art of Rush were in TOO SOON TO LOVE, including a documentary approach with a fictional story woven through it that merged art and life and life and art into one inseparable two-sides-of-the-same-coin whole and created a down to Earth, docufeature allegorical style enhanced by the use of natural light and real locations instead of sets filled with characters battling dangerous mirrorworld reflections who came across as everyday people rather than the unrealistic and larger than life characters so beloved of Hollywood, a realistic impression enhanced by improvisation and by the real life people who wandered through the films when Rush and the camera and sound men followed his characters along warm beaches and down cold streets. All that was needed was the exuberant stunt work that the film art of Rush also came to be famous for and the pensive Rush focus and audiences would truly be enjoying a solid gold Rush.
Significantly, Bert I. Gordon became the first film artist to implicitly respond to Rush and his indie docufeature film art, implying that Rush would be as unsuccessful in his attempt to abandon Hollywood dominated feature film art for a new indie docufeature film art as ghost haunted jazz pianist Tom Stewart-played by the fittingly Christian named Richard Carlson-was in his attempt to abandon the beautiful, bewitching, curvaceous, Marilyn Monroe resembling and implicitly Hollywood film art linked blonde singer Vi Mason-played by Juli Reding-for the younger, more natural, everyday and pretty blonde Meg Hubbard-played by Lugene Sanders-falling to his doom at the end of the allegorical indie docufeature film TORMENTED (1960), a film released on September 22, 1960 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by allusions to TOO SOON TO LOVE. For his part, William T. Hole jr. implied that the Rush’s decision to abandon indie documentary film art for indie docufeature film art would be just as disastrous as the decision of the implicitly Rush linked Richard “Rick” Turner-played by Robert Alda-to abandon Good brunette girl Donna Trent-played by Ariadne Welter-for the Evil, beautiful, bewitching and great devil god Gamba worshipping blonde witch Bianca Milan-played by the ironically named Linda Christian-in the allegorical indie docufeature film THE DEVIL’S HAND (1961), a film released on September 13, 1961 whose implicit Rush roasting intent was affirmed by the film’s indie docufeature style, L.A. film locations and allusions to TOO SOON TO LOVE and TORMENTED. Indeed, Milan’s ability to haunt and bewitch Turner from afar via thought projection evoked the ability of equally beautiful and bewitching blonde Hollywood sirens to haunt and bewitch men and women from afar via thoughtful and thought provoking film and digifilm projection to this day. Thus, the sight and sound of Turner breaking free from the spell placed on him by Milan, the cruel cult of Gamba and its leader Francis Lamont, the High Executioner-played by Neil Hamilton-and fleeing with Trent to safety, in the end, implied the hope of Hole jr. that Rush would also break free from the equally cruel and deadly siren song of bewitching blonde Hollywood and return to the safety of documentary film art.
As for Joseph Green, he sourly implied that the attempt by Rush to fuse the gritty and down to Earth documentary with the alluring fantasy of Hollywood feature film art would be as disastrously unsuccessful as the twisted attempt by the Mills and Victor Frankenstein evoking Doctor William “Bill” Cortner-played by Jason Evers-to transplant and fuse the body of the beautiful but gritty and scarred model Doris Powell-played by the curiously surnamed Adele Lamont-with the head of the beautiful and alluring brunette nurse Jan Compton-played by Virginia Leith-after she was decapitated in a car accident in the allegorical indie docufeature film THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE (1962), a film released on February 25, 1962 whose implicit Rush roasting intent was affirmed by the implicit link of Dr. Cortner’s father-played by Bruce Brighton-and his Igor, Kurt-played by Anthony La Penna-to Rush and the film’s allusions to TOO SOON TO LOVE and TORMENTED. Curiously, soon after the release of THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE, Newt Arnold also implied that the attempt by Rush to fuse gritty documentary film art with the alluring fantasy of feature film art in the indie documentary film would be as unsuccessful as the attempt by the implicitly Rush linked Doctor Gil Harding-played by Paul Lukather-to save the career of the Mills resembling concert pianist Vernon Paris-played by James Noah-by grafting the hands of an unknown dead criminal-played by A.I. Smithee-on Paris after a car accident destroyed his real hands instead turned Paris into a serial killer in the similar allegorical indie docufeature film HANDS OF A STRANGER (1962), a film released on April 22, 1962 whose implicit Rush roasting intent was affirmed by allusions to TOO SOON TO LOVE.
For his part, Don Owen also implicitly replied to Rush in his allegorical indie docufeature film NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE (1964), a film released on August 13, 1964 which was in many ways a remake of TOO SOON TO LOVE. The big difference was that NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE ended with troubled male teen hero Peter Mark-played by Peter Kastner-driving off into the darkness in a stolen 1964 Chrysler Belvedere without his pregnant girlfriend, Julie Grant-played by Julie Biggs-implying that Owen did not think that Rush would succeed as a film artist. A fitting implicit roast of Rush, indeed, given that Kathy’s disapproving father, Norm, evoked and was perhaps linked to Canadian politician Lester B. Pearson, implicitly linking Jim and Kathy to potential passionate young Canadian film artists. Indeed, the faux English style of the Taylor house reaffirmed the family’s link implicit to Canada. However, despite Owen’s implicit doubts, succeed Rush did, leading him to team up again with Nicholson to implicitly address Godard on one level but mostly Andy Warhol on the main level in the allegorical and stunt filled indie docufeature film HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS (1967), fittingly written by R. Wright Campbell and released in February of ‘67.
“What fruit factory
you guys come from?”
Indeed, the sight and sound of a laconic and Godard resembling and implicitly linked painter-played by Bob Kelljan-painting on the bodies of beautiful and curvaceous young biker babes at a Hells Angels party implicitly affirmed that Godard was being gently roasted in the film. However, the main implicit target of the film was wacky Warhol in the curiously implicit form of roving Hells Angel California chapter leader, Buddy-played by Adam Roarke-with Warhol’s raucous Factory gang implicitly linked to the equally raucous Hell’s Angels bikers in Buddy’s chapter. Indeed, the sight of female extras wearing white-blonde Warhol wigs throughout the film affirmed the implicit interest in Warhol in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS. The fact that Buddy’s girl was the beautiful, lean, slinky and Mary Woronov resembling and implicitly linked Shill-played by Sabrina Scharf-reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Warhol, given that Woronov was a prominent member of the Factory at this stage in her journey.
Significantly, Buddy and the restless and disaffected Poet-played by Nicholson-competed for the love of Shill throughout the film, a competition that led to a fight that was one by Poet, in the end. This was a showdown that we had been prepared for, for despite his name, Poet wore the worn brown leather jacket, blue jeans and cowboy boots of a true Western hero throughout the film. Significantly, this Western showdown ended with Buddy accidentally killing himself when he wiped out trying to run over Poet with his cycle and died in a fiery explosion, implying that Rush believed that Warhol would also destroy himself with his uncreative and mass produced pop art, in the end. Indeed, the sight of the reflections of Buddy and the rest of the Angels in bar mirrors and windows throughout the film implicitly affirmed that Rush believed that Buddy and the Angels, and, by implication, Andy and the Factory, had parted ways with harmonious reality and wandered off into a dangerously disharmonious mirrorworld. An ominously twilit mirrorworld, as a driver who died after being forced off the road by Buddy’s right hand man Jocko-played by John Garwood-at one point in their lawless odyssey drove a car with the license plate EX8392.
Curiously, the fiery death of Buddy also allowed Nicholson to triumph over his own sadolecent side, as Nicholson had played the outlaw teen leader named Buddy in TOO SOON TO LOVE. Indeed, Rush openly linked Buddy and his fellow outlaw bikers to Buddy and his teen friends throughout HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS to emphasize their status as arrested adolescents, complete with an accompanying instrumental theme by Stu Phillips that evoked the teen gang “Jet Song” from the allegorical Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim play WEST SIDE STORY (1957), first performed on September 26, 1957.
Significantly, despite its raucous spirit, HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS was an important film that saw Rush perfect his docufeature style and experiment with his trademark Rush focus, an in-camera effect that saw Rush use the camera’s focus to slowly or quickly draw a background element into foreground focus or vice versa, a characteristic so famously linked to the film art of Rush that Quentin Tarantino made fond use of it in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature film ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD (2019), to implicitly affirm that the film was addressing the oeuvre of Rush as well as the poor ol’ Gardevil, an implication reaffirmed by the appearance of Bruce Dern as George Spahn in that film. Confidence creating experience that led Rush to again implicitly roast Godard in the allegorical indie docufeature film THUNDER ALLEY (1967), released on March 22, 1967.
“I don’t believe it.
Indeed, the sight and sound of the Godard resembling and implicitly linked and crass and manipulative Peter “Pete” Madsen-played by Jan Murray-the crass, mischievous, manipulative and Cross anticipating owner/director of the Madsen Thrill Circus indie stunt driving team affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Godard and kicked off the fondness for stuntwork that became another memorable trademark of the film art of Rush and that reached its apotheosis in THE STUNT MAN. The use of pop stars Fabian and Annette Funicello to play film leads Tommy “Killer” Callahan, a top American stock car driver until he was forced to leave the ranks due to dangerous driving and Madsen’s indie stunt driver daughter, Francie, reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in addressing Godard, for they resembled and evoked French pop stars Johnny Hallyday and Chantal Goya, the latter linked to Godard as she played Madeleine in the allegorical Godard indie docufeature film MASCULINE FEMININE (1966). Curiously, the sight and sound of Funicello singing of the allegorical Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner written tune “When You Get What You Want” (1967) evoked the Poor rendition of the allegorical Stu Phillips and Chuck Sedacca written tune “Study in Motion #1” (1967) heard in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS and anticipated the sound of Dusty Springfield singing the allegorical Dominic Frontiere and Norman Gimbel written tune “Bits and Pieces” (1980) in THE STUNT MAN.
The sight and sound of the Eddie Constantine resembling and implicitly linked Edward “Eddie” Sands-played by Warren Berlinger-also affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Godard, as Constantine played intrepid secret agent Lemmy Caution in the allegorical Godard indie docufeature film ALPHAVILLE (1965). The sight and sound of the Brigitte Bardot resembling and implicitly linked Babe-played by Maureen Arthur-reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Godard, as Bardot played Camille in the allegorical Godard indie docufeature film LE MEPRIS aka CONTEMPT (1963). Last but not least, the sight and sound of a fellow Madsen Thrill Circus driver who resembled and was implicitly linked to Roger Vadim-played by Alain Smithee-also affirmed the film’s implicit interest in French film artists. Thus, the sight and sound of Callahan coming to grips with and overcoming a traumatic childhood accident to successfully leave behind Madsen’s indie stunt driving team and return to the stock car racing ranks by winning the Darlington Southern 500 implied the hope of Rush that Godard would stop kidding around, leave behind the ranks of indie film art and succeed as a mainstream film artist-something that never happened because Godard was not interested in being a mainstream film artist.
Significantly, from the opening air shot of the Daytona 500 speedway in Daytona Beach, FL-that surprisingly served notice that this latest Rush film was not set on the West Coast as usual-to the calm and expert drivers roaring around the track to the sound of the allegorical Band Without A Name Main Theme “Thunder Alley” (1967), THUNDER ALLEY immediately exuded a confidence that was absent in TOO SOON TO LOVE, with the old boat of Jim transformed into powerful and professional stock racing cars. The absence of the reflections of the main characters in mirrors and windows throughout the film, implying that no character was falling from the right path as in TOO SOON TO LOVE, reaffirmed the newfound confidence of Rush. However, the fact that Callahan suffered a blackout in the opening Daytona 500 race caused by a traumatic childhood memory of a go-cart crash that killed his brother, leading to a fiery accident that killed another driver named Jimmy John Jones underlined that peril still lurked in the world of film art for Rush and his characters and that equally fiery and twilit disaster still approached for Morrow and the film artists of New Hollywood in 1982. Alas, the sight and sound of Callahan working for Madsen after the accidental death of Jones also anticipated the sight and sound of Folsey jr., Kennedy, Landis, Marshall and Spielberg continuing to create film art after the death of Chen, Le and Morrow.
Tragicomically, after building his brash indie confidence, Rush then fell prey to the allures of mainstream Hollywood film art with the allegorical, implicitly Stanley Kubrick bashing and James Bond mocking film A MAN CALLED DAGGER (1968), released in January of ‘68. Luckily for audiences and himself, the dismal film convinced him to accept the bigger Hollywood budgets that came with his increasing fame and use that money as both a director and producer to continue creating more original and interesting indie docufeature film art, for Rush returned to Cali and teamed up again with Nicholson, Roarke, Stein, John Cardos and Gary Kent-two members of a group of bar patrons who fought the Angels in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS-Laszlo Kovacs-director of photography of HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS-Mireille Machu-who played Angels groupie Beryl in HELLS ANGELS ON WHEELS-and James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff-executive producers of THUNDER ALLEY-to investigate groovedelic goings on in the Haight-Ashbury district in the allegorical and Ozian themed indie docufeature film PSYCH-OUT (1968), released on March 6, 1968.
“She’s far away.”
Curiously, the film came across as a Sixties psychedelic version of the allegorical and implicitly PM King and Hitler roasting Victor Fleming film THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). For the sight and sound of the Margot Kidder resembling and Dorothy evoking and implicitly linked deaf teen runaway, Jennifer “Jennie” Davis-played by Susan Strasberg-arriving in the colourful and flower child filled Haight-Ashbury district by bus from Napa searching for her implicitly Wicked Warlock of the West linked messianic artist brother, Steve aka the Seeker-played by Dern-at the beginning of the film reminded us that the orphan Kansas waif, Dorothy Gale-played by Judy Garland-arrived in the equally colourful and Munchkin filled land of Oz by tempest tossed farmhouse at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ. The sight and sound of the implicitly Scarecrow linked Stoney, the implicitly Cowardly Lion linked Ben, the implicitly Tin Man linked Elwood and the implicitly Great Oz linked David aka Dave-played by Nicholson, Roarke, Max Julien and Dean Stockwell, respectively-befriending and protecting Jennie reaffirmed the film’s implicit link to THE WIZARD OF OZ.
Significantly, Steve died in a burning building before Jennie could reunite with him, perhaps implying that Rush believed that commercialism would cause the psychedelic Sixties to burn out too before the new acommercial spirit it championed could reach fruition, as surely as Jennie was almost killed as she wandered along the Golden Gate Bridge in a purple haze of STP, a drug whose nickname evoked the STP automotive products of THUNDER ALLEY, and, hence, mainstream commercial film art. However, as Jennie was rescued by Ben, Dave and Stoney at the end of film, a rescue that evoked Jim’s rescue of Cathy in the surging surf of an L.A. beach at the end of TOO SOON TO LOVE, Rush implied that he was not just reaffirming that he was as committed to film art as Jim was to Kathy, but hopeful that New Hollywood film artists would still find their way-despite the fact that ominous mirrorworld reflections of the hippies were seen in a nightclub at the end of the film. Hopeful, indeed, given that the STP trip cured Jennie of the deafness that had plagued her after a traumatic encounter with her mother-played by Madgel Dean-when she was a girl-played by Susan Bushman. Ironically, Rush then left behind the liberated streets and souls of San Fran for the rigidly repressed halls and hearts of academia when he teamed up again with Bird, Julien, Kovacs, Stein and Richard Anders and stuntman Chuck Bail-who had played Hell’s Angel biker Bull and a truly madcap Madcaps biker in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, respectively-to implicitly roast Coppola and Lucas in his first masterpiece, the allegorical indie docufeature film GETTING STRAIGHT (1970), inspired by the allegorical Ken Kolb novel Getting Straight (1967) and released on May 13, 1970.
“Harry, you used to be the great rebel-
the great leader!”
Indeed, the tragicomic sight and sound of the implicitly Coppola linked ex-Sixties civil rights campaigner and Vietnam War veteran, Harry Bailey-played by Elliot Gould-giving up the rebel fight and going to an unnamed Oregon college-actually, the newly built Lane Community College-to be trained to be a high school English teacher while stuck between and battling rebel Boomer students and stuck in the mud older staff and admin reminded us that Coppola kicked off his film art career with twilit and allegorical indie rebel docufeature film art like DEMENTIA 13 (1963) and YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW (1966) before selling out by creating the allegorical docufeature film FINIAN’S RAINBOW (1968) for Warner Brothers, implied that Rush was roasting Coppola in the film. To affirm this implicit allegorical intent, it was noticeable that not only did the film allude to DEMENTIA 13, FINIAN’S RAINBOW and YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW, but early in the film, a more aware Bailey than previous Rush characters first pondered his dangerous reflection in the mirror over the sinks of a men’s bathroom while talking about his dream of becoming a teacher and pondering the equally dangerous reflection of the dubious head of the teacher’s college, Doctor Edward Willhunt-played by Jeff Corey. For Corey was a veteran of Old Hollywood, implicitly linking Bailey’s unlikely dream of joining the high school teaching establishment to Coppola’s equally unlikely work with Warners on FINIAN’S RAINBOW.
The sight and sound of Bailey’s second dangerous reflection appearing in the windows of the blockbuster Machine Tech wing of the college as he walked and talked about his dream with the sympathetic and Alfred Hitchcock evoking English teacher, Doctor Caspar-played by Cecil Kellaway-reaffirming the film’s implicit Old Hollywood versus New Hollywood addressing intent. Significantly, Dr. Caspar was as dubious and doubtful about Bailey realizing his high school English teacher dream as Dr. Willhunt, and like Dr. Willhunt did his best to dissuade Bailey from pursuing it. In fact, Dr. Caspar even offered Bailey a fellowship in the English department so he could remain at the implicitly Old Hollywood linked college teaching English to more aware and inspiring young adult students.
Curiously, Rush initially implied his hope or fear that Coppola would indeed accept a permanent position in the ranks of Old Hollywood and use that position to try to transform Old Hollywood into New Hollywood. Indeed, the sight and sound of Bailey desperately, despairingly, frustratingly and furiously trying to persuade the exuberantly Nixonian college president, Doctor Vandenburg-played by Jon Lormer-to release the past and embrace the more liberal present in order for it to survive and stave off a righteously furious student uprising at the end of the film affirmed the hope of Rush that Coppola would not entirely give up the rebel indie film art cause and would use his membership in the Hollywood studio system try to transform Old Hollywood into a more modern, progressive and truly New Hollywood. This implication was reaffirmed by the fact that Dr. Vandenburg resembled and was implicitly linked to Universal Studios president and reputed Jewish gangster, Lew Wasserman. Indeed, the sight and sound of a mob of angry and chanting students carrying torches at a nighttime rally at the college in the next scene like the angry mob of torch carrying peasants that finally rose up in righteous fury to fight off the monster at the end of all horror films affirmed Vandenburg’s implicit link to Wasserman, reminding us that Universal was famous for its horror films.
Significantly, however, but not surprisingly, soon after the despairing and frustrating showdown with Dr. Vandenburg, Bailey ended any hopes of becoming a high school English teacher or remaining at the implicitly Old Hollywood linked college by blowing his oral exam for the English teacher fellowship due to being outraged by the homoerotic provocations of the all too knowing Doctor Lysander-played by Leonard Stone-that gave salacious new meaning to the phrase “Master’s Oral” and to Bailey’s favourite allegorical F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby (1925), in one of the most explosive, memorable, moving and tragicomic meltdowns in cinematic history-!complete with bawdy limericks!-and breaking free from the diseased and disharmonious mirrorworld by asserting his heterosexuality and embracing the young, intelligent, feisty, beautiful, blonde and implicitly Eleanor Coppola and New Hollywood linked college student, Jan-played by Candice Bergen-in the end, implying the belief and hope of Rush that Coppola would not succeed with Old Hollywood, and would have to break free and create his own innovative and modern New Hollywood-which he had indeed done by the release of GETTING STRAIGHT by founding the San Fran based American Zoetrope film art production company with his good and equally disenchanted with Old Hollywood friend, Lucas, who was implicitly linked in the film to Bailey’s groovin’ college friend, Nick Philbert-played by Robert F. Lyons-whose tragicomic and desperate draft dodging antics included a failed attempt to escape the draft by fleeing to Canada, evoking the implicit Canada roasting intent of YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW. Thus, it was appropriate that Harrison Ford had a small role in the film as Harry and Nick’s art teacher friend, Jake, given that Ford went on to act in a number of memorable Coppola and Lucas New Hollywood films. How also appropriate that Drs. Caspar and Lysander were joined at the table of the Master’s Oral by English Department colleagues who resembled and were implicitly linked to Issac Asimov, Truman Capote and D.W. Griffith, given that the film art of Coppola was often inspired by novels.
For his part, Morrow implicitly toasted Rush in the symbolic form of indie outlaw, Luther Sledge-played by James Garner-in the allegorical indie docufeature film A MAN CALLED SLEDGE (1970), released on August 13, 1970. Coppola also implicitly roasted Rush in the form of lonely, secretive, solitary and saxophone loving indie audio surveillance man, Harry Caul-played by Gene Hackman-and implied that Rush would fail to prevent the emergence of New Hollywood film art like Caul failed to prevent Ann-played by Cindy Williams-from orchestrating the murder of the mysterious Director-played by Robert Duvall-despite receiving advance warning of the plot in his latest bugging job at the end of the eerily twilit, allegorical and indie docufeature film THE CONVERSATION (1974), a film released on April 7, 1974 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by the film’s dangerous reflections, allusions to GETTING STRAIGHT and the appearance of Ford as the Director’s Assistant. Thus, it was fitting that Rush implicitly roasted Coppola and Lucas and their American Zoetrope dreams when he donned the director/producer hats again and returned with Bail, Frontiere, Garwood, Kovacs and GETTING STRAIGHT screenwriter Robert Kaufman to the Temple Theatre on Christmas Day of that year with his own San Fran based docufeature film and for the first time in his film art left behind anti-establishment rebel outlaws and embraced establishment outlaws in his second masterpiece and most quirky, quixotic, stunt filled and hilarious allegorical indie docufeature film to date FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, aka DER SUPERSCHNUFFLER (1974), released in November of ‘74.
“Perfect performance-very subtle.”
Indeed, the tragicomic attempt of the quarelling cinematic Odd Couple, Coppola and Lucas, to succeed as San Fran based indie film artists was linked to the equally tragicomic attempt of the perpetually quarrelling and mayhem loving cinematic Odd Couple, Freebie and the Bean-played by James Caan and Alan Arkin, respectively-to succeed as flunky monkey suit wearing indie San Fran Police Department detectives throughout the film. The presence of Caan as Freebie implicitly affirmed the allegorical intent of the film, for he played Kilgannon in the allegorical Coppola indie docufeature film THE RAIN PEOPLE (1969) and Santino “Sonny” Corleone in the allegorical and implicitly Spielberg addressing Coppola docufeaturs film MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER (1971). The appearance of Alex Rocco as the hard pressed DA overseer of Freebie and the Bean reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Coppola and Lucas, for he had a memorable role as the doomed Las Vegas casino owner, Moe Greene, in MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER. Alas, the implicit interest of Rush in Coppola and Lucas was already dated by the time of the release of the film for, while still both based in the greater San Fran area, Coppola and Lucas quarrelled so much that they had parted ways by the time of the release of FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, with Coppola sticking with American Zoetrope and Lucas heading off on his own indie Skywalking way with his Lucasfilm production company.
Curiously, and in addition, after the exuberant sexual liberation of GETTING STRAIGHT and PSYCH-OUT, soft core film artist Russ Meyer and androgynist British pop star David Bowie were also implicitly roasted in the implicit forms of portly and avuncular mobster, Red Meyers, and his languorously narcissistic transvestite lover-played by Jack Kruschen and Christopher Morley, respectively. The latter met his end gunned down by Freebie after pondering his dangerously beautiful mirrorworld self in a mirror of a women’s room in Candlestick Park at the climatic Super Bowl end of the film in the most open implicit affirmation that the embrace of one’s lawless and unstable mirrorworld side led to disaster and death in a Rush film. Rush also gleefully roasted the increasing tendency for mindless sexual and violent spectacle in mainstream cinema throughout the hilarious film, an interest that the mainstream cinema noticed for, ironically, quarrelling odd couple cop comedies have been a mainstream staple since FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, including in Canada in such twilit and allegorical fare as the Erik Canuel indie docufeature film BON COP BAD COP (2006).
Curiously, Allan Arkush and Joe Dante implicitly and exuberantly roasted Rush and newcomer David Cronenberg in the implicit forms of wacky talent agent, Walter Paisley, and Miracle Pictures screenwriter, Patrick Hobby-played by Dick Miller and Jeffrey Kramer, respectively-in their eerily twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD (1976), a film released on April 25, 1976 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by the film’s allusions to FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, PSYCH-OUT, THUNDER ALLEY, TOO SOON TO LOVE and the allegorical Cronenberg indie docufeature film SHIVERS (1975). Curiously, Paul Bartel also implicitly lampooned either low budget indie film director/producer Roger Corman or himself in the form of callous and kooky film artist, Erich Von Leppe, in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, an implicit link to Corman and himself affirmed by clips from the allegorical, Corman produced and implicitly Coppola and Lucas roasting Bartel indie docufeature film DEATH RACE 2000 (1975), that were used to pad out the length of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD. A grimly fitting use of clips from DEATH RACE 2000, for in late July of that same year Bail implied that he was inspired by the ultraviolent transcontinental road race in DEATH RACE 2000 to team up again with Frontiere and Whitey Hughes-a stuntman who also played a Detroit hitman named Broder in FREEBIE AND THE BEAN-to join Rush as a co-writer/producer/director and triumph over the notorious Bartel film with the allegorical indie docufeature film GUMBALL RALLY (1976), released July 23, 1976.
For the film saw the implicitly Peter Fonda linked and Cobra 427 driving Michael “Mike” Bannon-played by Michael Sarrazin-elude the implicitly Morrow linked LAPD Lieutenant Roscoe-played by Normann Burton-and his Keystone Kops and beat the implicitly Bartel linked Smith-played by Tim McIntire-and the rest of a group of implicitly film artist linked drivers-including the Alfred Hitchcock resembling and implicitly linked Barney Donahue (played by J. Pat O’Malley)-and the 34 hour 11 minute record on a transcontinental road race from New York to Long Beach. As for writer/director Colin Higgins, he was implicitly not impressed with FREEBIE AND THE BEAN despite the fact that the film was one of the funniest films ever, for he returned to San Francisco and tracked down and killed the implicitly Rush linked albino hitman, Rupert Stiltskin-played by Marc Lawrence-in the tragicomic San Francisco Symphony end of his allegorical docufeature film FOUL PLAY (1978), released on July 14, 1978.
For his part, Landis implicitly came to the support of Rush in the implicit form of Bailey evoking Faber College English teacher, David “Dave” Jennings-played by Donald Sutherland-and implicitly roasted Corman and Dante in the implicit forms Faber College Dean Vernon Wormer and Faber Mayor Carmine De Pasto-played by John Vernon and Cesare Danova, respectively-in the twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film ANIMAL HOUSE (1978), a film released on July 27, 1978 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by the film’s allusions to FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, GETTING STRAIGHT, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD and THUNDER ALLEY. Last but not least, veteran stuntman Hal Needham joined Bail as a film artist by implicitly responding in outraged fury to the indifference to human life on film sets in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD by implicitly roasting Dante in the form of callous film artist, Roger Deal-played by Robert Klein-and toasting Rush in the implicit form of aging and ailing veteran stuntman, Sonny Hooper-modestly known as “…the greatest stuntman alive”, and played by Burt Reynolds-in the ominously twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film HOOPER (1978), released on July 28, 1978.
“And I’ll tell you that no damn movie
is worth a man’s life!”
Indeed, the implicit Dante and Rush addressing intent of HOOPER was affirmed by the film’s allusions to A MAN CALLED DAGGER, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS and HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD; by the Miller resembling and implicitly linked first assistant director, Tony-played by Alfie Wise; by the Bail resembling and implicitly linked stuntman, Cully-played by James Best-who helped Hooper oversee stunt action in the allegorical film THE SPY WHO LAUGHED AT DANGER (197?), the James Bond evoking film within HOOPER directed by the callous Deal and by the presence of Candice Rialson, who played actor/stuntwoman Candy Hope aka Candy Wednesday in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, who returned in an uncredited cameo as an approving spectator of a fall out of a helicopter into an airbag made by Hooper. Thus, the sight of the older Hooper and the young, eager and implicitly Cronenberg linked stuntman Delmore “Ski” Shidski-played by Jan-Michael Vincent-triumphing over Deal with an ominously twilit record 325 foot jump over a river in a rocket boosted Pontiac Firebird, in the end, implied the hope of Needham that Cronenberg and Rush would triumph over Dante with their film art, as well.
Curiously, Cronenberg also implicitly responded to HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD and implicitly roasted Dante and Lucas in the implicit forms of drag racer Gary “the Blacksmith” Black and corporate drag team owner Phil Adamson-played by Cedric Smith and John Saxon, respectively-and implicitly toasted Rush and Kubrick in the implicit forms of indie drag racers Billy “the Kid” Brooker and Lonnie “Lucky Man” Johnson-played by Nicholas Campbell and William Smith, respectively-in the allegorical indie docufeature film FAST COMPANY (1979), a film released on March 18, 1979 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by the film’s allusions to HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, THUNDER ALLEY and the allegorical Lucas indie docufeature films AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973) and STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977). Indeed, the fact that the name of Lonnie Johnson evoked that of Leroy Johnson-played by Michael Bell-in THUNDER ALLEY affirmed the implicit interest in Rush in FAST COMPANY.
Not surprisingly, grim prissy uptight Lucas and B.W.L. “Bill” Norton were implicitly not impressed with the implicit roasting Coppola and Lucas received in FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, for they implicitly roasted Rush in the eerily twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film MORE AMERICAN GRAFITTI (1979), a film released on August 3, 1979 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by the film’s allusions to FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, GETTING STRAIGHT, HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, PSYCH-OUT and THUNDER ALLEY and the appearance of Ford as the motorcycle riding San Fran traffic cop, Bob Falfa. All of which implicit attention only inspired Rush to don his director/producer hat again and leave behind the establishment and return to another outlaw group when he teamed up again with Bail, Frontiere, Garwood, Hughes, Roarke and Rocco and returned to the Temple Theatre after an infuriating struggle recounted in the allegorical Rush film THE SINISTER SAGA OF THE MAKING OF THE STUNTMAN (2000) to implicitly address Needham in his third masterpiece, the eerily prescient and twilit, allegorical and Ozian themed indie docufeature film THE STUNT MAN, which was inspired by the allegorical Paul Brodeur novel The Stuntman (1970) and was released on March 26, 1980.
“I mean, that is a public bridge,
and a public river.
You go there, without permits,
without any precautions,
and get a man killed.”
Curiously, the film began with a prone dog panting in the hot sun, a sight and sound that evoked the prone and panting dog at the beginning of the allegorical Akira Kurosawa docufeature film STRAY DOG (1949), preparing us for the arrival of another traumatized war veteran like Murakami-played by Toshiro Mifune. Soon Frontiere’s ragtime inflected Main Theme was heard, evoking the ragtime inflected, allegorical and Bobby Hart sung Frontiere, Hart and Danny Janssen written tune “You and Me” (1974), the Main Theme of FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, preparing audiences for more exuberant stunts to come. As the Main Theme began, the two Cali Highway police officers-played by Frank Avila and Robert Caruso, respectively-arrived in their car in the parking lot of a roadside diner to scare off the panting stray dog, hot on the trail of someone named Cameron, reaffirming the link to FREEBIE AND THE BEAN and bringing the Keystone Kops back to the films of Rush, this time also implicitly linked to the pursuing flying monkeys of Margaret Hamilton’s implicitly Third Reich linked Wicked Witch of the West in THE WIZARD OF OZ.
The two Keystone Kops soon hunted down their fugitive in the roadside diner, where we discovered that Cameron-played by Railsback-was a short, scruffy, bearded, messy haired and wild eyed character who resembled Charles “Charlie” Manson, which was not surprising given that Railsback had in fact played Manson in the allegorical Tom Gries docufeature telefilm HELTER SKELTER (1976). Significantly, Cameron also resembled and was implicitly linked to Needham, implying that Rush was replying to HOOPER in THE STUNT MAN, perhaps because he disliked the larger than life character of Hooper or the dangerous and reckless on- and off-set behavior of the Hooper, Ski and the rest of the stuntmen in HOOPER. Of course, Cam’s scarey, ragged and bearded appearance also implied that the Scarecrow had arrived in this Ozian themed film.
Significantly, despite being handcuffed by the two officers, Cam easily and desperately evaded arrest by the police in the roadside diner and fled to freedom out its back door into the woods behind the diner. Curiously, this reminded us of the sight and sound of reluctant stuntwoman and aspiring actress Candy Wednesday-played by Rialson-fleeing into the woods from the police to escape arrest for her unsuspecting involvement as the getaway driver in a bank heist gone bad pulled off by the implicitly Lucas linked Rico Bandello and the implicitly Ron Howard linked Duke Mantee-played by W.L. Luckey and John Kramer, respectively-to the protection and anonymity of Miracle Pictures-“…if it gets made, it’s a miracle!”-at the beginning of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, implying that Rush was also responding to that film on one level in THE STUNT MAN. Not far away from the diner, Cam used a pair of cable cutters stolen from two telephone linemen-one of whom, Don Kennedy, resembled football hero Terry Bradshaw, who had a bit part as a pugilistic bar patron in HOOPER-to cut the chain linking his cuffs, ending the film’s short and action packed opening prologue.
Act One began with Cam arriving at and crossing a small bridge that resembled the bridge blown up as a result of an earthquake at the end of HOOPER. Significantly, the loss of this bridge forced the veteran stuntman Hooper and his young protégé, Ski, to blast 325 feet across a river in that rocket boosted Pontiac Firebird to appease Deal in the dangerous climatic stunt that ended HOOPER, preparing us for an equally dangerous climatic auto stunt at the end of THE STUNT MAN. As if to remind us of that dangerous automotive stunt, while crossing this small bridge, Cam was almost run down by a Dusenberg driven by a blonde male driver-played by Steve’s brother, Michael Railsback. Reflexively trying to save his life, Cam threw a metal bolt lying on the bridge at the windshield of the car, sending it out control and off the bridge and into the water below, presumably killing the blonde driver. Curiously, this possible death evoked the death of the Wicked Witch of the East at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ, and, thus, set off the healing Ozian dream, also evoked the death of a stuntwoman in a questionable skydiving “accident” on the set of the exuberantly callous and vainglorious quickie exploitation film artist, Erich Von Leppe, at the beginning of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, reaffirming that Rush was responding to that film on one level in THE STUNT MAN. The death of Bert also added murder mystery to what had started off as a police drama, adding another level to the film.
Significantly, after the disappearance of the blonde driver and his Dusenberg over the side of the bridge, Cam was buzzed by a group of unknown people in an orange helicopter that resembled the orange Jet Ranger helicopter from which Deal safely watched the final stunt packed sequence from at the end of HOOPER. No doubt thinking that it was the pursuing police in that helicopter searching for him, Cam ran frantically across the bridge onto what turned out to be Coronado Island in the bay off San Diego. Soon a disconsolate Cam was staring at his bearded and bedraggled self in a mirror outside a tourist souvenir shop, implying that he had headed off into a dangerous mirrorworld, indeed. And a dangerous mirrorworld openly linked to film art, for after pondering his Manson mirrorworld reflection, Cam wandered over to a crowd of onlookers outside the huge, white, rambling and castle or Hollywood studio evoking Hotel Del Coronado watching second unit director/stunt coordinator/stuntman Bail-looking and dressing like Cully in HOOPER-directing a Great War battle scene on a coastal beach that evoked a similar battle scene for MACHETE MAIDENS OF MORA-TAU, one of the quickie exploitation films directed by Von Leppe in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, adding a film within the film as in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD and HOOPER and a docufeature level to THE STUNT MAN.
Soon the violence of the Great War battle sequence, with its eerily and presciently twilit simulated decapitations and dismemberments, shocked the onlookers and Cam. When the sequence mercifully ended, and the gory and supine stuntmen returned to life, the orange helicopter returned and disgorged the despondent and implicitly Great Oz linked film artist, Eli Cross-played by O’Toole. Cross sadly and bitterly lamented the death of the driver in the Dusenberg, who turned out to be a stuntman ironically named “Lucky” Bert who doubled for the equally blonde and implicitly Cowardly Lion linked lead actor, Raymond Bailey-his name evoking Harry Bailey in GETTING STRAIGHT and Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow in THE WIZARD OF OZ, and played by Roarke. Significantly, “Lucky” Bert evoked the stunts Burt Reynolds did in HOOPER in a reaffirmation that Rush was addressing HOOPER on one level in THE STUNTMAN.
Curiously, after seeing but failing to catch the attention of the “Lucky” Bert resembling Bailey, Cam instead gallantly rescued from drowning the film’s implicitly Dorothy linked lead actress, Nina Franklin-played by Corman alumni Hershey-adding another level of swelling romance to the film. Significantly, Franklin resembled Jenny in PSYCH-OUT and Hooper’s school teacher weetie, Gwen Doyle (played by Sally Field) in HOOPER, and had a surname which evoked L. Frank Baum, the author of the allegorical and implicitly Queen Victoria bashing children’s story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). Ominously, the surname also evoked that of Morrow’s frustrated Captain Everett Franklin in DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY in another eerily twilit memory of the future.
Perhaps pleased by Cam’s rescue of Nina and moved by the revelation that Cam, like Bailey in GETTING STRAIGHT, was a Vietnam vet, albeit a Vietnam vet on the run from the police for reasons still unknown-a revelation that added a Vietnam war level to the film to join with its recreated Great War-Cross persuaded Cam to hide from the police in open sight by replacing and disguising himself as “Lucky” Bert as the stuntman for Bailey on the set of his allegorical World War I film DEVIL’S SQUADRON (198?)-a film that evoked the allegorical John Guillermin film THE BLUE MAX (1966), an evocation helped by the blonde hair of Bailey and “Lucky” Bert, which evoked that of George Peppard’s WWI German flying ace Leutnant Bruno Stachel in the Guillermin film. While good for Cam, it was an ironic offer, for his resemblance to Manson reminded us that before he gained more notoriety as a murderous mastermind, Manson tried to succeed as a pop star-as big as the Beatles!-but failed to do so when nobody in the music industry expressed any interest in him. Not that accepting the offer did not free Cam from Dark Forces, for the reflections of both Cam and Cross were seen in a ground floor window of the Hotel Del Coronado as Cross led Cam off to the makeup room to transform him into “Lucky” Bert. Not that Cross noticed as he welcomed Cam to the film and ushered him into the Hotel Del Coronado, bringing to an end Act One.
The sight of Cam replacing “Lucky” Bert reminded us that the death of the female stuntwoman on the film set of Von Leppe at the beginning of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD led to the arrival of naïve and hopeful waif, Candy Wednesday, reaffirming the implication that Rush was replying to Arkush and Dante on one level in THE STUNT MAN. Indeed, the fact that Cam soon began to worry that Cross was trying to kill him in an eerily and presciently twilit snuff stunt on camera disguised as an accident for the sick thrill of getting away with it reaffirmed that Rush addressed the Arkush and Dante film in THE STUNT MAN, for Cam’s fears reminded us that after the opening “accidental” death of the stuntwoman, two actresses, the Margaret Atwood resembling and implicitly linked Jill McBain and Bobbi Quackenbush-played by Tara Strohmeier and Rita George, respectively-were murdered on camera over the course of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD by vengeful lead actress, Mary McQueen-played by Woronov.
Act Two began with Cam opening his eyes to see himself in a makeup mirror literally transformed into his diseased and disharminous mirrorworld stunt double, “Lucky” Cam, a handsome, clean shaven and sexy Hollywood blonde stuntman with chiselled cheekbones who looked even more like Needham. Soon Bail returned to teach Cam the ropes-literally-of safe stunt work, revealing the secrets of the stunt trade and pulling Cam deeper into the world of celluloid fantasy. And into deeper romance, as the love between Cam and Nina began to swell high in the main castle evoking tower of the Hotel Del Coronado. Act Two then ended with Cross reaffirming his promise to help Cam-much to the resigned dismay of the implicitly Tin Man linked and Baum evoking screenwriter, Sam Baum-played by Allen Garfield aka Allen Goorwitz.
Act Three began with Cam heading off on his Ozian elemental journey by performing and completing his first caterwauling stunt work fighting Great War soldiers on top of the sprawling bulk of Hotel Del Castlenado, a sequence filled with fiery explosions that linked him to Fire and which included a fall into a brothel that implicitly affirmed that Cam and Nina were falling in love. Indeed, this implication was openly affirmed by the next chaotic stunt sequence that saw linked Cam to Air as it involved him being whisked away from a ground battle by leaping onto the wing of a passing bi-plane-piloted by either Jim Appleby or Wayner Berg-and which ended with Cam falling off the wing when the plane went out of control after the machine-gunning of its pilot by another pilot. For this second fall led to a lovemaking scene between Cam and Nina in their room in the Hotel Del Coronado. Act Three then ended with another talk between Cam and Cross, this one more tense as the insistence that Cam not know all the details of his stunts beforehand to make his reactions to unexplained details more real had convinced Cam that Cross was trying to kill him on camera with an ominously twilit stunt.
Act Four began with a house to house battle in a besieged French town that linked Cam to Earth, and ended after more swelling romance between Cam and Nina and surprising and ironic revelations that, despite transforming into his sexy blonde mirrorworld doppelganger, Cam was actually a Good guy whose exploit that had infuriated the police was actually tragicomically inane and ended with Cam locking Nina in the trunk of the Dusenberg late one night in the hotel garage so that the two lovers can escape to freedom in the morning. And so Act Five began with the director, cast and crew of DEVIL’S SQUADRON arriving back at the small bridge that literally bridged reality and cinematic fantasy at the beginning of the film. Here Cam tried to drive the Dusenberg across the bridge to freedom with Nina, only to have a special effects technician send him off the bridge into the river below by blowing up the rigged right front tire of the car.
Fortunately for “Lucky” Cam and Nina, Nina had already been freed from the trunk, and Cam managed to keep a cool head, swim out of the submerged car to the surface of the river, breaking free from his dangerous and diabolic mirrorworld doppleganger, successfully surviving his link to Water and pulling off the stunt in a way that implied the hope of Rush that Needham would survive as a film artist and make films that were more thoughtful and mature than HOOPER. That the ending of the film allowed Cam and Cross to finally end their film long struggle and to relax and accept each other, and to agree to work together to finish DEVIL’S SQUADRON, was also significant. For the ending signalled that the battle that had raged between Old and New Hollywood since the late Sixties was now over, and that the idealistic and Vietnam War scarred Cams of New Hollywood and the crassly commercial and manipulative Crosses of Old Hollywood would now unite into one Hollywood with their dual embrace of the commercial and idealistic artbuster film, perhaps still best epitomized by the allegorical Kubrick film 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). Alas, this détente was soon rent and overshadowed by the TZ disaster, when the eerily twilit memories of the disastrous future seen in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, THE STUNTMAN and THUNDER ALLEY proved to be all too prescient.
Curiously, shortly after the TZ disaster in the fall of ’82, Rush was implicitly roasted in the implicit form of Hope police deputy Arthur “Art” Galt-played by Jack Starrett, who played California Highway Patrol Sergeant Bingham in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS-in the eerily prescient and twilit Ted Kotcheff indie docufeature film FIRST BLOOD (1982), released on October 22, 1982. Then, after pondering the dread allegorical Zone Wars, Rush focused on another outlaw group and implicitly addressed the TZ disaster in the twilit, allegorical, computer generated imagery (CGI) free, Rush co-written and initially directed, and Roger Spottiswoode finished, indie docufeature film AIR AMERICA (1990), inspired by the allegorical Christopher Robbins book Air America (1978) and released on August 10, 1990.
“If you can’t laugh at war,
what’s the use of fighting?”
Curiously, it was probably a good thing that Rush left the film during production, for the film implicitly linked Zone War film artists and their implicitly and righteously furious cinematic salvoes with their hidden and oh so “secret” allegorical messages to the covert, half crazed, adrenaline addicted and CIA financed outlaw American pilots of “Air America”-who evoked the embattled Great War flyers of DEVIL’S SQUADRON, the film within the film in THE STUNTMAN, the stunt drivers of THUNDER ALLEY and the outlaw bikers of HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS-who made aerial supply runs from a secret American base in “…the wild, wild East” of Laos to isolated villagers and American backed soldiers in Laos and Vietnam in the early Seventies in beat up planes-one plane numbered 238, only one number off the 237 date of the TZ disaster to implicitly affirm the film’s interest in the TZ disaster. Indeed, the tragicomic sight and sound of a helicopter piloted by the Bean and Freebie evoking and implicitly Spieberg and Lucas linked Billy Covington and Gene Ryack-played by Robert Downey, jr. and Mel Gibson, respectively-that spiralled to the ground and crashed into the Vietnamese jungle after its tail rotor was knocked out by a Viet Cong bullet-not that we were too worried about the pair, given that they were not seen in any dangerous mirrorworld reflections prior to the crash-openly linked the film to the TZ disaster and the pilots of Air America to the TZ disaster haunted film artists of New Hollywood, affirming the implicit TZ disaster addressing intent of the film.
Indeed, the fact that Gibson played Captain Paul Kelly in the allegorical Tim Burstall indie docufeature film ATTACK FORCE Z (1982), that Burt Kwouk appeared as Cato Fong in the allegorical Blake Edwards docufeature film TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER (1982) and Tim Thomerson turned up as Dr. Knute Lanyon in the allegorical and implicitly Landis roasting Jerry Belson indie docufeature film JEKYLL AND HYDE…TOGETHER AGAIN (1982) reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Landis and the twilit and disastrous year of 1982. Thus, the fact that Covington, Ryack, the implicitly Coppola linked Senator Davenport-played by Lane Smith-and most of the other pilots of Air America survived their feverish sojourn in Laos and Vietnam and rescued a group of Laotian villagers in the end-reminding us that Morrow had tried but failed to rescue Chen and Le the night of the TZ disaster-and triumphed over the blockbuster buster drug loot lusting and implicitly Cameron linked Major Donald Lemond-played by Ken Jenkins-and his second-in-command, the implicitly Cronenberg linked Rob Diehl-his name evoking that of Roger Deal in HOOPER, and played by David M. Grant-implied that Rush and Spottiswoode hoped that Coppola, Lucas, Spielberg and other American film artists would also survive and leave behind the TZ disaster and the dread allegorical Zone Wars and move on to other things like beating pesky Canadian film artists with hit films in the new decade of the Nineties, in the end. Indeed, the film’s allusions to the Indy Trilogy, the presciently twilit Spielberg docufeature film 1941 (1979), and the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and implicitly Lucas addressing Spielberg docufeature film ALWAYS (1989) affirmed the implicit Lucas and Spielberg supporting allegorical intent of AIR AMERICA.
Significantly, Allan Moyle implicitly celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the release of GETTING STRAIGHT with the twilit, allegorical, CGI free and eerily Gardevil anticipating indie docufeature film PUMP UP THE VOLUME (1990), which saw and heard the implicitly Coppola linked teenage pirate JD DJ Mark Hunter aka Happy Harry Hardon-played by Christian Slater-rant on over the airwaves about the state of the union throughout the film like Harry Bailey, an implicit link affirmed by the film’s allusions to GETTING STRAIGHT. Then Rush teamed up again with Bail, Corey, Frontiere and Hughes and implicitly addressed and did his best to exorcise the TZ disaster and liberate New Hollywood in his final twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and Ozian themed indie docufeature film COLOR OF NIGHT (1994), released on August 19, 1994.
“To deny red is to deny emotion.”
Significantly, the film began with the despondent and implicitly Wicked Witch of the East linked Michelle-played by Kathleen Wilhoite-sitting in front of a mirror furiously applying blood red lipstick to her lips and teeth in her claustrophobic New York apartment, immediately implying that Michelle was parting ways with a healthy and harmonious reality and transforming herself into her dangerous and diseased mirrorworld reflection. Indeed, she soon pulled a gun out of a drawer, cocked it and stuck it in her mouth as if to kill herself, underlying that she had left her usual self behind. In the next scene, Michelle and her psychologist/psychoanalyst, the implicitly Kubrick and Great Oz linked Doctor William “Bill” Capa-his implicit link to Kubrick affirmed by the film’s allusions to the allegorical and implicitly Hitchcock addressing Kubrick indie docufeature films KILLER’S KISS (1955), and LOLITA (1962) and played by Bruce Willis-were reflected in the mirrors and windows of his equally claustrophobic office, implying that Capa was now joining Michelle in the dangerous mirrorworld like Huey did when he sold his old car to Jim in his barbershop in TOO SOON TO LOVE. Not surprisingly, Michelle soon leaped out of Capa’s window to her doom, her dangerous reflection falling with her on the windows behind her. Significantly, this shocked Capa so badly that when he looked out the window, the pool of blood he could see gathering around Michelle’s body on the New York street below changed from red to grey as he went colour blind from shock, evoking Jenny’s loss of hearing due to childhood trauma in PSYCH-OUT.
A fitting link, as Capa soon headed to California, albeit landing in L.A. rather than San Fran and seeking solace in the company of his friend and fellow psychologist, the Spielberg resembling and implicitly linked Doctor Robert “Bob” Moore-played by Scott Bakula-who lived in a sprawling white mini-castle of a house that evoked the Hotel Del Coronado in THE STUNT MAN. Significantly, the number of the fortress was 29377, affirming the film’s implicitly twilit ambience. Just as significantly, soon after the arrival of Capa in L.A., Moore was stabbed to death by someone with a rotoring blade that evoked the rotors of the falling helicopter of the TZ disaster. Indeed, as Moore lay gasping out his last breaths in his office, a helicopter was seen through a window flying by outside, affirming the implicit link between Moore’s murder and the TZ disaster, and reminding us that the disaster had killed the career and reputation of Spielberg.
Curiously, after the murder of Moore, Capa took over his current patients, where he found another troubled artist who evoked the Seeker of PSYCH-OUT, the implicitly Scarecrow and Tim Burton linked painter, Casey Heinz-played by Kevin J. O’Connor. Capa also discovered more troubled patients, including the implicitly Tin Man and Marshall linked Buck-played by Lance Henriksen-the implicitly Glinda and Kennedy linked Sondra Dorio-played by Lesley Ann Warren, who linked the film openly to 1982 via her character Norma Cassady in the allegorical Blake Edwards docufeature film VICTOR/VICTORIA (1982)-and the implicitly Cowardly Lion linked Clark-played by Brad Dourif.
Last but not least was the most troubled and complex of all the patients, the implicitly Dorothy and Sofia Coppola linked Rose Dexter-played by Jane March-who spent most of the film pretending to be her dead brother, Richard “Richie” Dexter. When she wasn’t passing herself off as Richie, Rose was usually pretending to be the ironically named Bonnie, the film’s implicit Wicked Witch of the West, a truly bewitching character who used her beauty and sensuality to wrap Buck, Capa, Clark, Heinz and Sondra around her finger and who implicitly symbolized the equally bewitching and heartbreaking power of film art. Significanlty, the slow discovery that Rose was having a relationship with all of the other patients and with Capa reminded us that lovely Laura Palmer-played by Sheryl Lee-was slowly discovered to be having relationships with all sorts of people in the fog enshrouded and haunted town of Twin Peaks, WA in the twilit and allegorical David Lynch indie telemoving painting series TWIN PEAKS (1990-1), and the twilit and allegorical Lynch indie moving painting TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992), implying that Lynch was being addressed in COLOR OF NIGHT.
Indeed, this implicit interest in Lynch was affirmed by the fact that Moore’s murderer turned out to be Rose’s brother, the troubled and implicitly Lynch linked wood artisan, Dale Dexter-played by Andrew Lowery-who had gone psycho as a result of being molested by a psychiatrist named Doctor Niedelmeyer as a youth-a revelation that affirmed the film’s implicit interest in the actions of Landis, for the name of Dr. Niedelmeyer evoked the character Jose Niedermeyer-played by Mark Metcalf-in ANIMAL HOUSE. Indeed, the name of Dale Dexter evoked that of the implicitly Kubrick linked FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper-played by Kyle MacLachlan-in TWIN PEAKS and TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME-which alluded to KILLER’S KISS too to affirm the implicit link of Cooper to Kubrick-while Dexter’s fondness for working with wood reminded us that Lynch liked working with wood, reaffirming Dexter’s implicit link to Lynch. Last but not least, the presence of Dourif also affirmed the film’s interest in Lynch, for the actor played House Harkonnen Mentat, Piter De Vries, in the twilit and allegorical Lynch indie moving painting DUNE (1984), and Raymond in the equally twilit, allegorical and Ozian themed Lynch indie moving painting BLUE VELVET (1986). Thus, by allowing Rose to save Capa by killing Dale with a nail gun, in the end, Rush implied his hope that the film art of Kubrick would defeat that of Lynch, probably in retaliation for the universally hated TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME.
And so Capa made up for his inability to prevent the suicidal leap of Michelle by saving Rose before she was killed in an equally deadly fall and Capa and Rose embraced in the passionate end like Jim embraced Cathy at the end of TOO SOON TO LOVE, and so Rush emphasized the healing and harmonizing nature of the ending by having Capa’s ability to feel emotion and see red returned to him, making us all thankful that Rush gratefully and good naturedly accepted the low budget quickie films he was offered after the release of TOO SOON TO LOVE so as to learn and master all aspects of creating film art film year after year so and confidently put all he had mastered together in such memorable film classics as GETTING STRAIGHT, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN and THE STUNTMAN, allowing audiences forever after to experience and enjoy a truly heady and solid gold Rush-albeit one filled with thought provoking and dangerous reflections.
Paul, Brodeur. The Stuntman. New York: Ballantine