Back in the day, the concert industry wasn’t a Live Nation money pit. And there was no MTV. There wasn’t even a Midnight Special. Or a Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. Or ABC-TV’s In Concert, produced by Don (read our review of the TV rock flick Song of the Succubus for more on Don’s TV and film exploits).
No, for back in those pre-cable and World Wide Web days of yore, in order to see all of those music stars of the radio, you went to the drive-in. You know the films: Alan Freed’s Mr. Rock and Roll and Rock, Rock, Rock in particular, films that had nary a plot and were padded with musical performances — which were the whole point of the films in the first place: for record labels to promote their artists. And since not everyone had TVs yet, the more accessible movie theater was the next best thing.
As Sam, our B&S About Movies’ Master Mixer of Movie-Themed Drinks and Celluloid Chaos, would say, “Now, if you’re thinking, “Will B&S About Movies do a (another) “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week” (a III?) tribute to these performance-padded rock concert flicks from the ’50s that masqueraded as dramatic-comedy narratives when, in reality, they’re really just rock documentaries? Yeah, you know us all too well.
So, just like Alan Freed gathering up the kids and the artists for a big show in those films, here we have a Hollywood studio wanting to jump on the Elvis-inspired country music crazy and make a movie. So they send out Colonel Feetlebaum (Doodles Weaver . . . Oh, you’ll know his face when you see it; we reviewed his exploitative work in Hot Rod Gang, Trucker’s Women . . . and that’s just two of his 150 TV and film credits) to round up Marty Robbins (who produced this as a vanity showcase) along with Webb Pierce, Waylon Jennings, Bill Anderson, Porter Wagoner, and Dottie West. Of course, no county film is complete without Johnny Cash (in his second film: he made his dramatic acting debut in 1961’s Five Minutes to Live, aka the more sensational Door to Door Maniac; he followed up Road to Nashville with 1971’s A Gunfight). Oh, and did you know this is Marty Robbins’s second bow on Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-Film pack? And did you know he raced stock cars? Marty did, and he made a film about it (with John Ashley of Blood Island fame), Hell on Wheels, which, if you’re keeping track of our Mill Creek Mania at B&S, that flick is also on their Savage Cinema set.
The cinematographer on this? The legend that Kevin Smith eloquently referred to as “a stubborn old cuss,” aka “ornery old cuss” (depending on the story-version regarding their mutual exploits on Jersey Girl): Vilmos Zsigmond. Cuss or no, ornery or not . . . just wow, there’s so many B&S films Vilmos has done (Psycho a Go Go, for one), as he worked his way up to Deliverance (with Burt Reynolds), Scarecrow (with Richard Lynch and Al Pacino), The Deer Hunter (Robert DeNiro), and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
So . . . anyone up for loading a copy Yoga Hosers or movies about man-walruses into the deck? No, I didn’t think so.
Hey, Kevin knows we’re kidding: we show him the love with our review of the epic majesty that is Mallrats. And that soundtrack — along with Clerks — are CD deck mainstays of my ’90s alt-rock memories. But between this rip on Kevin — and my ripping his friend Ben Affleck in our “John Doe Week” review of Forces of Nature — I’m going to get my ass kicked at the “Double Douche.” And since I don’t know Sam Elliot, I’ll have to bring some of Pittsburgh’s Shirley Doe off that top rope to open the whoop-ass. Just be sure to bring a broom and dust pan to sweep my eyeballs off the floor because I think team Smith-Affleck will take Sam and mine’s movie-writing, soft-as-veal asses like the
Boston Pittsburgh Strong Girls that we are.
You can get on the Road to Nashville with Mill Creek by way of their B-Movie Blast 50-movie set.