Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Record City (1978)

Having spent a couple of years as a record-store employee, I can understand the impulse Hollywood filmmakers had during the vinyl era to make movies about LP peddlers. So far, however, only the 1995 release Empire Records has come close to capturing the party vibe at a music store when it’s buzzing with customers. More typical of Hollywood’s efforts to tart up the retail life is this awful comedy from 1978, featuring such stellar talents as Ruth Buzzi, Rick Dees, and Larry Storch. An ensemble story depicting the musical and sexual adventures of clerks, customers, and visitors to a fictional store, Record City is a slick but tacky production featuring jokes at the expense of feminists, gays, nerds, prostitutes, seniors, and swingers, among others. Tame and unfunny from start to finish, Record City comprises a barrage of stupid gags. For instance, real-life radio personality Dees plays a DJ named “Gordon Kong,” who works a King Kong-influenced persona; wearing an animal-print cape and one arm of a primate costume, Gordon arrives at Record City with an entourage of backup singers to perform his novelty song “Get Down Gorilla,” in the vein of Dees’ real-life hit “Disco Duck.” Later, supporting player Ted Lange, of Love Boat fame, performs the disco jam “Make Way for the Lover.” Surrounding these “highlights” are scenes featuring Frank Gorshin as a robber who wears costumes including a nuns’ habit; various vignettes of Michael Callan as the store’s horny owner, who gets annoyed when employees play his “balling music” over loudspeakers; and a climactic sequence in which a cleaning lady (Buzzi) inadvertently electrocutes half the people in the store. Oh, and there’s a running gag of an angry feminist (Deborah White) repeatedly kneeing a co-worker (Tim Thomerson) in the groin because she mistakenly blames him every time someone else pinches her ass. To round out your picture of Record City, the sole music-industry cameo is provided by eccentric Texas troubadour Kinky Friedman, who plays himself as a debauched putz—when he meets a young woman who bears a passing resemblance to singer John Denver, he implies she used to be Denver and then squeezers her breasts to compliment her new gender.

Record City: LAME

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