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The Hollywood Knights (1980) is an American motion picture comedy written and directed by Floyd Mutrux, depicting the crass and juvenile antics of a group of young practical jokers in Beverly Hillsmarker. The film's unusual mixture of anarchic tastelessness and wistful Vietnam-era nostalgia draws comparisons with two important American films of the preceding decade, John Landis's gross-out comedy National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), and George Lucas's coming-of-age tale American Graffiti (1973). The cast, led by Robert Wuhl as the gang leader, features Tony Danza and a young Michelle Pfeiffer as high school sweethearts, and Fran Drescher and Stuart Pankin in supporting roles.

Plot

On Hallowe'en night in 1965, a group of high school pranksters (the eponymous 'Hollywood Knights'), enraged by the Beverly Hills Homeowners Association's decision to close down their favourite haunt, a drive-in diner, launch a prolonged comic assault on the uptight association and two bumbling local police officers. The ensuing antics include: a sexual encounter involving premature ejaculation, a punch bowl being "spiked" with urine, an initiation ceremony involving comic nudity, and perhaps most memorably, the lead character of Newbomb Turk (Robert Wuhl) singing a version of 'Volare', and punctuating the end of each musical phrase with a burst of flatulence. "Mooning" also plays a prominent role in the film. In fact, one of the advertising slogans attempted to exploit the Apollo space program of then-recent memory by touting that The Hollywood Knights was the first movie "to moon a man on the land." At the end, the Knights moon hapless teacher Mrs. Freedman. The character Dudley Laywicker (Stuart Pankin) is witness to the event and becomes absolutely all eyes. In fact, he is so fascinated by the sight of the bare buttocks, that he takes his glasses off for a better look. The high point of the film from an aesthetic standpoint, however, is undoubtedly the appearance of one of the Knights at a talent contest under the guise of "Sasha Dabinsky, the World Famous One-Armed Violinist." This vignette defies written description and must be viewed to be fully enjoyed.

Cast



Production notes

The filming location for 'Tubby's Drive-in' was an old A&W Root Beer that had closed down on Van Nuys Blvd. in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker.

Robert Wuhl, Tony Danza and Stuart Pankin all played teenage characters, although Wuhl and Danza were both in their late twenties, and Pankin was 33 years old.

Director Floyd Mutrux revealed on the audio commentary of the Columbia DVD release that he was at one point going to direct Urban Cowboy (1980), and that he would have been likely to cast Michelle Pfeiffer in the role of Sissy. The producer of that film, Robert Evans, also preferred Pfeiffer, but the eventual director, James Bridges, refused to cast anyone but Debra Winger in the part.

Legacy

Widely considered to be an inferior rip-off of American Graffiti, today the film is primarily notable for the d├ębut performances of many well-known actors.

Tony Danza was famous for having played dimwitted boxer Tony Banta on the television sitcom Taxi since 1978, but had not appeared in a film prior to this.

The lead role of Newbomb Turk was former stand-up comic Robert Wuhl's first film performance, and he would later win two Emmy Awards in the category of 'Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Music or Comedy Program' for his collaboration with Billy Crystal on the script of the 63rd and 64th Academy Awards ceremonies.

Fran Drescher had appeared in a small role in Saturday Night Fever (1977) and American Hot Wax (1978) prior to this film, but would not establish herself fully until her successful television sitcom, The Nanny (1993) aired on CBS and she was nominated for two Golden Globes and two Emmys for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

The only actor in The Hollywood Knights who went on to a long and successful career in cinema was Michelle Pfeiffer, who went on to earn three Academy Award nominations and a host of other acting awards for her roles in Dangerous Liaisons (1988), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) and Love Field (1992).

References

  1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080881/locations
  2. http://www.dvdmg.com/hollywoodknights.shtml
  3. http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/hollywoodk.php
  4. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081696/trivia
  5. http://www.avclub.com/content/node/23526
  6. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000376/awards
  7. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000201/awards


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