When I was much younger, there was a movie on cable that was featured heavily in night time rotation – especially on the weekends. This was back in the early days of Cinemax, when they showed more independent, foreign, and avant garde films – before they truly began to earn the moniker of “Skinemax”. However, they still managed to throw some of those raunchy late night comedies into the mix, and that’s the category in which this movie fell. Of course if my brother and I didn’t catch it on Cinemax, we could probably find it on HBO as well. The movie of which I speak is The Hollywood Knights.
The Hollywood Knights is not just the name of this movie, it’s also the name of the mischievous car club the story centers on. On Halloween night 1965 in Beverly Hills, tricks and treats were to be expected. What many residents of Beverly Hills should also have expected were the outrageously, mischievous antics of The Hollywood Knights. Even with officers Bimbeau (pronounced Bimbo) and Clark on the case, nothing’s going to stop Newbomb Turk and his fellow “Knights” from making it a night to remember.
Whether they’re kidnapping an honor student, wreaking havoc at high school functions, racing around town in their custom rides, breaking in their new pledges, or just hanging out at Tubby’s Drive-In – they will make certain that even once Tubby’s serves its final “Big One” burger, nobody will forget The Hollywood Knights.
The cast was comprised of many unknowns, except for Tony Danza who at the time would be instantly recognizable from his role as Tony Banta on the hit show Taxi. However, some of these unknowns would become more recognizable later on – some more than others.
Robert Wuhl is devilishly comic as the “Knights” ring leader, Newbomb Turk. Wuhl splits time between being both obnoxious and charming, but is always witty. Stuart Pankin is hilarious as the accident prone, socially awkward, and brutally naive honor student, Dudley Laywicker. Gailard Sartain plays the ever bossy Officer Bimbeau and Sandy Helberg plays his dimwitted partner, Officer Clark. Officers Bimbeau and Clark are as inept a pair of officers one could find. They display a jokingly false bravado, often getting into more trouble than than they are trying to prevent.
Tony Danza appears as Duke, a kind of wishy-washy and oft lamenting young man, who is also member of the “Knights”. He’s trying to figure what his future holds and whether that future includes the love of his life. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Susie Q, Dukes girlfriend and a carhop at Tubby’s Drive-In. She has dreams of becoming an actress, but struggles with the thought of potentially having to decide between acting or staying with Duke.
Leigh French and Richard Schaal are essentially joined at the hip in their hilarious turns as the adulterous Mrs. Freedman and Mr. Nevans. They are two upper-class twits serving as members of The Beverly Hills Residents’ Association, who are looking to oust any element they consider “undesirable”. They are also perpetually looking for any somewhat private location that will allow them accommodation for a tryst.
It seems unfair to leave out any performers, because the whole cast came together to provide such great chemistry in making one of the most irreverently funny movies I’ve ever seen.
Floyd Mutrux directed five movies in his career, but this is the one he will likely be remembered most for. Mutrux directed the film from a screenplay he wrote. Although at times there are glaring continuity problems and poorly dubbed dialogue, he made the most of his estimated $2.5 million budget. Especially when one considers that it earned $10 million at the box office. Granted this movie is far from high art, but Mutrux was able to create an entertaining film that still provides a few triggers for 60’s nostalgia.
The movie follows a storyline that tends to jump around, much like American Graffiti did. Following different characters and their experiences throughout the night, ultimately returning to their “base of operations”, Tubby’s Drive-In. In the end, The Hollywood Knights resembles something akin to American Graffiti’s hilarious, juvenile delinquent, kid brother.
The Hollywood Knight may be sophomoric, raunchy, and unapologetic, but is also a wildly humorous, entertaining, and very quotable movie. It’s one of those movies that can be watched over and over without becoming stale, which has helped this hidden gem of 80’s late night comedy to become a cult classic.
The Hollywood Knights can be found for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray, and also for rental through the mail on Netflix.