Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fast Company (1979)


Badass biker-movie veteran William Smith didn’t get many opportunities to appear in “real” movies, and it was even less common for him to play sympathetic leads. So while Fast Company is a routine B-movie elevated by the skills and reputation of its director, it also represents a high point for fans of charismatic muscleman Smith. The director is, improbably, Canadian bio-horror specialist David Cronenberg, caught halfway between his early Great White North indies and his ’80s breakout period. He does a solid job as a helmer-for-hire, delivering all the requisite drive-in whammies; lean and mean but reflecting a fair amount of craftsmanship, Cronenberg’s drag-racing extravaganza is exploitive without being out-and-out sleazy. There's violence, debauchery, and skin, but also consistent characters and a rational narrative about how a devious corporate sponsor exploits its drivers. Enter the Dragon guy John Saxon, at the height of his macho comb-over glory, revels in his villainous role, and Smith plays a simple but relatable sort of romantic lead. He also gets to deliver a few tasty lines, like when he takes a shot at his sponsor, Fast Co. Motor Treatment, during a live TV shoot: "Fast Co. is gonna keep you regular and raunchy till way after sundown." Preach on, brother man! The low-rent '70s music is atrocious and tragic ’70s starlet Claudia Jennings is underused, but the movie pays off like gangbusters. Fast Company is that rare animal of an exploitation flick you can watch without feeling skanky the next morning.

Fast Company: FUNKY

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