breaking free from insane fantasy

and embracing sane reality

in the allegorical film art

of Richard Rush


By Gary W. Wright


        While too old to be a member of New Hollywood, Richard Rush and his allegorical indie docufeature film art clearly anticipated and influenced the allegorical indie docufeature film art of a new generation of young film artists around the world including such New Hollywood film artists as Francis Coppola, William Friedkin, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese and such implicitly New Hollywood addressing Canadian film artists as James Cameron, David Cronenberg, Ted Kotcheff and Don Owen.  A cautionary influence, for Rush implicitly opposed the emphasis on graphic sex and violence that was a hallmark of New Hollywood and those that implicitly responded to them, and repeatedly warned film artists and audiences that these excesses in film art and in life would lead to disaster and death on set and in life.  All too apt and prescient warnings, as audiences, film art, film artists and the Temple Theatre were shocked, outraged, scarred and changed forever by the helicopter crash that killed actor/writer/director Victor “Vic” Morrow and illegally hired and employed child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le around 2:20 am in the early morning of July 23, 1982 on the George Folsey jr. produced John Landis set of the Kathleen Kennedy associate produced, Frank Marshall produced, and Landis and Steven Spielberg executive produced Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller docufeature film TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE [1983].  Eerily and presciently twilit warnings combined with an indie docufeature style influenced by his years as an indie documentary film artist before he began creating docufeature films that were first seen when Rush donned the co-writer/director/producer hats on the allegorical indie docufeature film TOO SOON TO LOVE [1960], released in February of 1960.


“I love you Kathy!

I wanna marry you,

I wanna take care of you!”


        Fittingly, Act One began with a raucous and exuberant group of rebel Boomer teens who commandeered a carnival shuttle bus one rowdy night, a Boomer group unofficially led by the brash and boorish Buddy-played by Jack Nicholson-immediately and presciently linking Rush and his influential indie docufeature film art to rebel Boomer youth and anticipating the equally rebellious film artists of New Hollywood-in this case literally, as Nicholson would soon co-direct the allegorical Roger Corman film THE TERROR [1963] and go on to create other films.  It was also fitting that two male Keystone Kips quickly arrived in hot pursuit of the Rebel teens, for the police officers eerily anticipated the eventual backlash of the law and society against the film artists of New Hollywood after the TZ disaster.  Significantly, the Keystone Kops collared and confronted a frightened and pretty, sweet and innocent blonde teen girl named Kathleen “Kathy” Taylor-played by Jennifer West-who had not been able to run away in time and the thin and gawky but handsome and John Cassavetes resembling and implicitly linked teen guy James “Jim” Mills-played by Richard Evans-who stayed to keep her company, reminding us that Cassavetes had released his first indie docufeature film SHADOWS [1958] not long before.

Released by the two Keystone Kops with a warning not to stay out past their curfews again, the two relieved, humbled, worried and lonely teens made their way home by taxi.  Significantly, a shy and tentative but slowly swelling Romance bloomed between the two starcrossed teens on their way home, a shy Romance that led to a furious backlash from the adult world, particularly from Kathy’s stern, stodgy, stuffy, square, horn rimmed glasses wearing and all too fittingly named father Mr. Norman “Norm” Taylor-played by Warren Parker-anticipating the furious backlash that New Hollywood film artists would receive from Old Hollywood and older adult society.  Not that a besotted Jim cared, for he was so enchanted by Kathy that he decided to impress her by purchasing an antiquated old boat of a car from his bachelor barber friend Hugh “Huey” Wineman-played by Ralph Manza-so as to impress and drive Kathy around town.  Significantly, Jim was initially the only person reflected in Huey’s barbershop mirrors as he pleaded with the older man to sell him his old car for $100 before the older bachelor added his equally fantastic reflection to the scene when Huey finally acquiesced to Jim’s pleas and gave him the keys to the car.

Alas for Huey and Jim, these dangerous mirror reflections were the first signals in a Rush indie docufeature film that two characters were departing from the grounded, stable, sane and law abiding real world and heading foolishly and recklessly off into an ungrounded, unstable, insane and lawless fantasy mirrorworld-the Twilight Zone, one might say-that would lead to their downfall if they were not careful.  This dangerous mirrorworld reflection signal was not invented by Rush, for Jean Renoir used it as early as 1938 to implicitly affirm that the implicitly King Edward VIII linked Jacques Lantier, the implicitly Wallis Simpson linked Severine Roubaud, and the implicitly Canadian Prime Minister William King linked Roubaud-played by Jean Gabin, Simone Simon, and Fernand Ledoux, respectively-were also departing ways with sane and grounded reality and heading off into deadly and insane fantasy in the allegorical docufeature film LA BETE HUMAINE [1938].  Indeed, to affirm the implication that Huey and Jim had just entered a passionately unstable fantasy mirrorworld, steamy centrefolds of naked women were seen on the walls of Huey’s barbershop when Jim pleaded to buy the car from the older man. 

Car purchased, Jim drove happily off into the mirrorworld and was soon driving Kathy around in the car, too, drawing her into the dangerous and unstable mirrorworld, as well.  So much so that the equally besotted Kathy dropped by a local L.A. drive-in with some girl friends to talk with Jim at the concession stand where he worked, openly linking both characters to film art.  Here the young hero gallantly rescued Kathy from the brutish and overbearing attention of Buddy, and then drove her home.  Not surprisingly, a stop at a clifftop overlooking the familiar lights of nighttime L.A. on the way home led to Jim and Kathy’s first major kissing session to the sound of the film’s swelling luv theme.  Not long after, Jim and Kathy consummated their relationship one night on the rocky shore of a fittingly and tempestuously surging L.A. beach.  Significantly, the sight of Kathy taking off her hair ribbon before she fell down in an eager embrace with Jim signalled her acceptance of sex, while the sight of her losing the ribbon to the wild wind and the respectful way the camera turned away from the embracing luvers and followed the ribbon as it blew out into the turbulent surf before the point of view [POV] faded out signalled the loss of the virginity of Kathy and perhaps also of Jim, and the end of Act One.

        Soon after the beginning of Act Two, Jim expressed his undying luv for Kathy one afternoon in the empty drive-in theatre, implicitly affirming that Jim symbolized a passionate young Rebel film artist like Cassavetes declaring his equally passionate and undying luv for indie docufeature film art.  Indeed, Kathy’s blonde hair and the fact that her full name Kathleen Taylor evoked that of Elizabeth Taylor, reigning screen queen at the time, implicitly affirmed the link of Kathy to film art.  However, a jubilant Jim soon discovered to his horror that he had indeed walked and driven down an unstable and dangerous mirrorworld path after buying the car from Huey when a distraught Kathy told him that she was pregnant.  This shock revelation caused Jim to travel even further down a lawless and dangerous mirrorworld path when he counselled the sweet and horrified Kathy to have an illegal abortion.  Unfortunately, no sooner did Jim counsel Kathy to have an abortion than he was back in Huey’s barbershop and asking the unrepentant bachelor for help in procuring the illegal abortion for his beloved.  Significantly, not only did Huey provide Jim with the name and address of a cynical and disreputable woman named Mrs. Jefferson-played by Billie Bird-who could help him if he and Kathy came back later that night, but Huey was also seen first in the barbershop mirror in the scene, and then dominated the mirror with his reflection throughout the rest of the scene, implying that the bachelor barber was all too familiar with illegal emergency abortions.

        However, and lucky for Jim, Kathy and Huey, the drive from the quiet L.A. suburb where the two terrified teens lived and luved, a truly docufeature drive that saw the actors drive and then walk down real dark and seamy city streets filled with strip joints, battered bars and even more battered people, the tense walk down a grimy back alley to the ominous unmarked black door leading to Hell in the back of Mrs. Jefferson’s beat up building-its doorway to Hell status fittingly and ominously affirmed by the empty Diablo vegetable box lying on top of the dirty garbage can outside-and the meeting with a traumatized young couple who mischievously resembled John and Jackie Kennedy, the young woman ashen faced, weeping and staggering stiffly down the furtive stairwell inside were all so traumatic for the two naïve, innocent and luvstruck teens-complete with suitably ominous instrumental music composed by the fittingly named Ronald Stein that was straight out of a Fifties horror film-that they fled the building and the literal back alley abortion and the lawless and insane mirrorworld and returned to the rocky beach and the surging, natural, healing and soothing surf of their first luvmaking session that ended Act One to bemoan their plight and end Act Two.

        Alas, Act Three quickly made clear that the two troubled teens had not fully left behind the crazy and unstable mirrorworld, for Jim and a sympathetic real doctor-played by William Keene-tried to convince Kathy to have a legal abortion.  This caused Jim to walk even further down the dangerous and lawless mirrorworld path, for the five hundred dollars needed for the legal abortion was so much money that the desperate teen was forced to break in and rob the safe of the drive-in concession stand where he worked one distraught night.  Caught in the act by the Errol Flynn resembling drive-in manager Mr. Corey-played by A.I. Smithee-who had returned after initially leaving the drive-in to find his dropped keys and revealed Jim with his flashlight huddled behind the concession stand counter with the stolen money, Jim fled the scene and raced to Kathy’s house to give her the stolen money.  Here Jim was horrified to see that the revelation that he had robbed the drive-in to pay for her abortion sent poor sweet Kathy over the edge, causing her to flee her house and Jim in her father’s newer car and race back to the surging and rock strewn beach that ended Acts One and Two and drown herself in the tempestuous surf to end Act Three on a truly Shakespearean note straight out of the equally tempestuous and tragic allegorical play Romeo And Juliet [1596].

        Luckily for Kathy, however, Jim severed the link to the end of Romeo And Juliet by following her in Huey’s beater and throwing himself into the surf and rescuing her.  Carrying her out of the surging surf and on to the rocky beach, Jim pledged to marry sweet distraught innocent Kathy and look after her and the baby no matter what, a heartfelt pledge that brought all three characters away from the horror of abortion and the unstable and diseased mirrorworld and back to the right, sound, healthy and harmonious path and life affirming reality at last no matter what the cost, implying the hope of Rush that Cassavetes in particular and other young film artists in general would stick indomitably to their indie docufeature film art path no matter what Hollywood or audiences would throw at them.  In addition, Rush implied his hope that he would not abort his own indie docufeature film art cause with this fine first feature film, its fittingly awkward, geeky, naïve, stiff and self-conscious performances perfectly fitting the equally awkward, geeky, gawky, stiff and self-conscious naivete of adolescence and of all first Good, true, earnest and heartfelt feature films. 

        And so most of the major elements of the indie docfeature film art of Rush, including weaving a fictional story with actors through a documentary film shot at real locations instead of on sets including on streets with real people and natural light to enhance its docufeature nature, merging art and life and life and art into one inseparable whole to create an allegorical and down to Earth indie docufeature film, a film whose believable characters came across as everyday people rather than as the unrealistic and larger than life characters so beluved of Hollywood, albeit troubled everyday people who made desperate decisions that led them away from sane and sound reality and into battles with unsound, insane and dangerous mirrorworld fantasy reflections that needed to be triumphed over to return to sane, stable, healing and rejuvenating reality, in the end, were featured in TOO SOON TO LOVE.  A fine indie docufeature film debut that did not go unnoticed, for Bert I. Gordon soon became the first film artist to implicitly respond to Rush and his indie docufeature film art, implying that Rush would be as unsuccessful in his attempt to abandon the Hollywood studio approach to feature film art for a new indie docufeature film art style as the ghost haunted jazz pianist Tom Stewart-played by the fittingly Christian named Richard Carlson-was in his attempt to abandon the beautiful, bewitching, curvaceous, Marilyn Monroe resembling and implicitly Hollywood film art linked blonde singer Vi Mason-played by Juli Reding-for the pretty, more natural and everyday younger blonde Meg Hubbard-played by Lugene Sanders-a failed attempt that led to him falling to his doom at the end of the allegorical indie docufeature film TORMENTED [1960], a film released on September 22, 1960 whose implicit Rush roasting intent was affirmed by allusions to TOO SOON TO LOVE. 

For his part, William T. Hole jr. implied that Rush’s decision to abandon documentary film art for indie docufeature film art would be just as disastrous as the decision of the implicitly Rush linked Richard “Rick” Turner-played by Robert Alda-to abandon Good brunette girl Donna Trent-played by Ariadne Welter-for the Evil, beautiful, bewitching and great devil god Gamba worshipping blonde witch Bianca Milan-played by the ironically surnamed Linda Christian-in the allegorical indie docufeature film THE DEVIL’S HAND [1961], a film released on September 13, 1961 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by allusions to TOO SOON TO LOVE and TORMENTED.  Indeed, Milan’s ability to haunt and bewitch Turner from afar via thought projection evoked the ability of equally beautiful and bewitching blonde Hollywood sirens to haunt and bewitch men and women from afar via thoughtful and thought provoking film and digifilm projection to this day.  Thus, the sight and sound of Turner breaking free from the spell placed on him by Milan, the cruel cult of Gamba, and its leader Francis Lamont, the High Executioner-played by Neil Hamilton-and fleeing with Trent to safety, in the end, implied the hope of Hole jr. that Rush would also break free from the equally cruel and deadly siren song of bewitching Hollywood and return to the safety of indie documentary film art.

        As for Joseph Green, he sourly implied that the attempt by Rush to fuse the gritty and down to Earth indie documentary with the alluring fantasy of Hollywood feature film art would be as disastrously unsuccessful as the twisted attempt by the Mills and Victor Frankenstein evoking Doctor William “Bill” Cortner-played by Jason Evers-to transplant and fuse the body of the beautiful but gritty and scarred model Doris Powell-played by the curiously surnamed Adele Lamont-with the head of the beautiful and alluring brunette nurse Jan Compton-played by Virginia Leith-after she was decapitated in a car accident in the allegorical indie docufeature film THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE [1962], a film released on February 25, 1962 whose implicit Rush roasting intent was affirmed by the resemblances of Dr. Cortner’s father-played by Bruce Brighton-and his Igor, Kurt-played by Anthony La Penna-to Rush and by the film’s allusions to TOO SOON TO LOVE and TORMENTED.  Curiously, soon after the release of THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE, Newt Arnold also similarly implied that the attempt by Rush to fuse gritty indie documentary film art with the alluring fantasy of Hollywood feature film art in the indie docufeature film would be as unsuccessful as the attempt by the implicitly Rush linked Doctor Gil Harding-played by Paul Lukather-to save the career of the Mills resembling concert pianist Vernon Paris-played by James Noah-by grafting the hands of an unknown dead criminal-played by Al Smithee-on Paris after a car accident destroyed his real hands instead turned Paris into a serial killer in the allegorical indie docufeature film HANDS OF A STRANGER [1963], a film released on April 22, 1963 whose implicit Rush roasting intent was affirmed by allusions to TOO SOON TO LOVE.

        Significantly, Don Owen also implicitly roasted Rush in the form of troubled Rebel indie teen Peter Mark-played by Peter Kastner-and implied that Rush would fail to succeed with his indie docufeature film dream as surely as Mark failed to succeed in the world without a high school diploma at the end of the indie docufeature film NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE [1964], a film released on August 13, 1964 that came across as a Canadian remake of TOO SOON TO LOVE to affirm its implicit allegorical intent and that singlehandedly kicked off the modern era of Canadian indie docufeature film art.  As for Rush, he donned the director hat and teamed up again with Nicholson to implicitly address Andy Warhol in the allegorical indie docufeature film HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS [1967], fittingly written by R. Wright Campbell and released in February of ’67.


“What fruit factory you guys come from?”


        Significantly, the film began with Rush immediately and openly affirming his commitment to indie docufeature film art in a raucous prologue that saw a group of actors and stuntmen in black leather Hell’s Angels California jackets roar through and out of the real streets of San Francisco, meet up with a group of real Hell’s Angels, roar across the Golden Gate Bridge together and then split up on the other side for their own misadventures, all to the tune of a fittingly sadolescent, allegorical and Stu Phillips composed instrumental theme that evoked the allegorical teen gang “Jet Song” from the allegorical Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim play WEST SIDE STORY [1957] to implicitly link the Angels to arrested adolescents throughout the film.  Disrupting the streets and citizens of a community on the other side of the bridge with their wild behaviour, the lawless bikers soon attracted the disaffected gas jockey and indie Rebel biker Poet-played by Nicholson-to their raucous cause, a raucous cause curiously led by the implicitly Warhol linked Buddy-played by Adam Roarke.  Indeed, the sight of female extras wearing white-blonde Warhol wigs throughout the film, and the fact that Buddy’s girl was the beautiful, lean, slinky and Mary Woronov resembling and implicitly linked Shill-played by Sabrina Scharf-reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Warhol, given that Woronov was a prominent member of the Factory at this stage in her journey, implicitly linking Warhol’s raucous Factory gang to the equally raucous Hell’s Angels bikers in Buddy’s chapter.

        Significantly, Buddy and the smart, sane, and sensitive Poet competed for the luv of Shill throughout the film.  This was a showdown that we had been prepared for, for despite his name, Poet wore the worn brown leather jacket, blue jeans and cowboy boots of a true Western hero throughout the film.  A Western showdown that ended with Buddy accidentally killing himself when he wiped out trying to run over Poet with his motorcycle and died in a fiery explosion, implying that Rush believed that Warhol would also destroy himself with his uncreative and mass produced pop art, in the end.  Indeed, the sight of the reflections of Buddy and the rest of his Angels in bar mirrors and windows throughout the film implicitly affirmed that Rush believed that Buddy and his Angels, and, by implication, Warhol and his Factory, had parted ways with harmonious reality and wandered off into a dangerously disharmonious mirrorworld.  An ominously twilit mirrorworld, as a driver-played by Allen Smithee- who died after being forced off the road by Buddy’s right hand man Jocko-played by John Garwood-at one point in their lawless journey drove a car with the license plate EX8392.  Curiously, the fiery death of Buddy also allowed Nicholson to triumph over his own sadolescent side, as Nicholson had played the outlaw teen leader Buddy in TOO SOON TO LOVE. 

        Significantly, and despite its lawless spirit, HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS was an important film for Rush that saw him perfect his indie docufeature style and embrace and experiment with two new additions that became memorable trademarks of the film art of Rush: the Rush focus, an in-camera special effect that saw Rush use the camera’s focus to slowly or quickly draw a background element into the foreground or vice versa, and a fondness for exuberant stunts seen in the many fights that Buddy and his Angels fought with citizens, sailors and other bikers throughout the film.  Last but not least, the sight and sound of a laconic, behatted and Jean-Luc Godard resembling and implicitly linked painter-played by Bob Kelljan-painting on the bodies of beautiful and curvaceous young biker babes at a Hell’s Angels party implicitly affirmed that Godard was also being gently roasted in the film on one level.  An implicit interest in roasting Godard, a fondness for stunts and a commitment to perfecting his indie docufeature film art that continued that year when Rush donned the director hat on the allegorical indie docufeature film THUNDER ALLEY [1967], released on March 22, 1967.


“I don’t believe it.

He quit.”


        Indeed, after an opening helicopter shot of the Daytona 500 Speedway in Daytona, Florida, set the unusually non-California stage for a full throttle and action packed prologue that intercut real stock car racers and full throttle action with closeups of an actor in a stock car against rear projection to immediately and openly affirm the commitment of Rush to indie docufeature film art as at the beginning of HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, we were soon introduced to the Godard resembling and implicitly linked Peter “Pete” Madsen-played by Jan Murray-the crass, mischievous, and manipulative owner/director of the Madsen Thrill Circus indie stunt driving team.  The use of pop stars Fabian and Annette Funicello as film leads Tommy “Killer” Callahan, the American stock car racer focused on in the opening prologue until he was forced to leave the stock car ranks due to dangerous driving, and Madsen’s feisty indie stunt driver daughter, Francie, respectively, reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in addressing Godard, for they resembled and evoked French pop stars Johnny Hallyday and Chantal Goya, the latter linked to Godard as she played Madeleine in the allegorical Godard indie docufeature film MASCULINE FEMININE [1966].  Curiously, the sight and sound of Funicello singing the allegorical and Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner written tune “When You Get What You Want” [1967] evoked the sound of the Poor rendition of the allegorical and Stu Phillips and Chuck Sedacca written tune “Study In Motion #1” [1967] heard in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS.

        In addition, the fact that Callahan’s girlfriend Anne “Annie” Blaine-played by Diane McBain-had the same short blonde boycut as Patricia Franchini-played by Jean Seberg-in the allegorical Godard indie docufeature film A BOUT DE SOUFFLE aka BREATHLESS [1960] affirmed the implicit interest in Godard in THUNDER ALLEY.  The sight and sound of the Eddie Constantine resembling and implicitly linked Edward “Eddie” Sands-played by Warren Berlinger-also affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Godard, as Constantine played intrepid secret agent Lemmy Caution in the allegorical Godard indie docufeature film ALPHAVILLE [1965].  The sight and sound of the Brigitte Bardot resembling and implicitly linked Babe-played by Maureen Arthur-reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Godard, as Bardot played Camille in the allegorical Godard indie docufeature film LE MEPRIS aka CONTEMPT [1963].  Last but not least, the sight and sound of a fellow Madsen Thrill Circus driver who resembled and was implicitly linked to Roger Vadim-played by Alain Smithee-also affirmed the film’s implicit interest in French film artists.  Thus, the sight and sound of Callahan coming to grips with and overcoming a traumatic childhood accident to successfully leave behind Madsen’s indie stunt driving team and return to the stock car racing ranks by winning the Darlington Southern 500 implied the hope of Rush that Godard would leave behind his experimental indie docufeature films and succeed as a more mainstream indie docufeature film artist, something that never happened because Godard was not interested in being a mainstream indie docufeature film artist.

        Significantly, it was noticeable that the reflections of the main characters were not seen in mirrors and windows throughout the film, implying that none of them were falling from the right path and heading off into a dangerous mirrorworld as in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS or TOO SOON TO LOVE.  However, the fact that Callahan suffered a blackout in the opening Daytona 500 race caused by that traumatic childhood memory of a go-cart crash that killed his brother, a blackout that led to a fiery accident that killed another racer named Jimmy John Jones, underlined that peril still lurked in the indie docufeature film art of Rush.  Alas, the sight and sound of Callahan working for Madsen after the accidental death of Jones also anticipated the sight and sound of Folsey jr., Kennedy, Landis, Marshall and Spielberg continuing to create film art after the deaths of Chen, Le and Morrow in the TZ disaster.

        Alas, after successfully building his brash indie docufeature confidence with his first feature films, Rush then fell prey to the allures of mainstream Hollywood feature film art with the allegorical, implicitly Stanley Kubrick roasting and James Bond mocking film A MAN CALLED DAGGER [1968], released in January of ’68.  Luckily for audiences and himself, the dismal film implicitly convinced him to accept the bigger budgets that came with his increasing success and use that money as both a director and then director/producer to continue creating more original and interesting indie docufeature film art, for Rush returned to Sam Francisco for a more extended stay to investigate groovedelic goings on, donned the director hat and teamed up again with Nicholson, Roarke, Stein, Mireille Machu, John Cardos and Gary Kent-who played Angels girl Pearl and two members of a group of mocking bar patrons who fought Buddy and his Angels, respectively, in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS-Laszlo Kovacs-director of photography [DOP] of HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS-James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff-executive producers of THUNDER ALLEY-and American International Pictures on the allegorical and Ozian themed indie docufeature film PSYCH-OUT [1968], released on March 6, 1968.


“She’s far away.”


        Fittingly, the film began with a young actress arriving by bus in the flower child filled streets and shoppes of San Fran, thus intercutting a fictional character with real documentary footage to again immediately and implicitly affirm the commitment of Rush to the indie docufeature film art cause.  Curiously, the film then came across as a Sixties psychedelic version of the allegorical and implicitly Canadian Prime Minister King and Nazi Germany roasting Victor Fleming film THE WIZARD OF OZ [1939].  For the sight and sound of the Margot Kidder resembling and implicitly Dorothy linked deaf teen runaway Jennifer “Jennie” Davis-played by Susan Strasberg-arriving from Napa by bus to search for her implicitly Nikko the Monkey King linked “messianic” artist brother Steve Davis aka “the Seeker”-played by Bruce Dern-in the colourful and flower child filled Haight-Ashbury district of San Fran evoked the sight and sound of the orphan Kansas waif Dorothy Gale-played by Judy Garland-arriving from Kansas by tornado tossed farmhouse in the colourful and flower and Munchkin filled land of Oz and beginning her search for the Great and powerful Oz-played by Frank Morgan-in THE WIZARD OF OZ.  Indeed, the sight and sound of the implicitly Scarecrow linked Stoney, the implicitly Cowardly Lion linked Ben, the implicitly Tin Man linked Elwood and the mystic and implicitly Great Oz linked David aka Dave-played by Nicholson, Roarke, Max Julien and Dean Stockwell, respectively-befriending and protecting Jennie reaffirmed the film’s implicit Ozian theme and anticipated New Hollywood’s fondness for Ozian themed film.

        Significantly, Steve died in a burning building before Jennie could reunite with him, perhaps implying that Rush believed that the psychedelic Sixties would die too before the new acommercial spirit it championed could reach fruition.  Perhaps due to commercialism destroying that acommercial spirit, given that Jennie was almost killed as she wandered along the Golden Gate Bridge in a purple haze of STP, a drug whose nickname evoked the STP automotive products seen advertised in THUNDER ALLEY.  However, as Jennie was rescued by Ben, Dave and Stoney at the end of the film, a rescue in roaring hordes of traffic that evoked Jim’s rescue of Kathy in the surging surf of an L.A. beach at the end of TOO SOON TO LOVE, Rush implied that he was not just reaffirming that he was as committed to indie docufeature film art as Jim was to Kathy, but hopeful that young film artists would still find their way, despite the fact that Dave was hit and killed by a speeding car as he rescued Jennie, perhaps to reward him for giving Jennie the STP, causing him to disappear like the Great Oz in his balloon at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ, and the fact that ominous mirrorworld reflections of the flower children were seen in a nightclub’s mirrored walls at the end of the film.  Hopeful, indeed, given that the STP trip cured Jennie of the deafness that had plagued her since a traumatic encounter with her implicitly Wicked Witch of the West linked mother-played by Madgel Dean-when she was a girl-played by Susan Bushman.

        Contrarily, Rush then left behind the liberated streets and souls of San Fran-and the sounds, for PSYCH-OUT had a great psychedelic soundtrack, some of it supplied by Ben, Elwood and Stoney’s indie band, Mumblin’ Jim-for the rigidly repressed halls and hearts of academia at an unnamed college in Oregon-actually, the then newly built Lane Community College in Eugene, OR-when he donned the director cap and teamed up again with Bird, Julien, Kovacs, Stein and Richard Anders and stuntman Chuck Bail-who played Hell’s Angel biker Bull and a truly madcap Madcaps biker, respectively, in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS-and for the first time with Columbia Pictures to implicitly roast Coppola and Lucas and bring his indomitable commitment to indie docufeature film art, the Rush focus and exuberant stunts to fruition in his first masterpiece, the allegorical indie docufeature film GETTING STRAIGHT [1970], inspired by the allegorical Ken Kolb indie docufiction novel Getting Straight [1967], and released on May 13, 1970.


“Harry, you used to be the great rebel-

the great leader!”


        Indeed, after a prologue that saw exuberant young Boomers playing students wandering around that unnamed Oregon college one sunny morning to the sound of the allegorical and Stein, Caroline Arnell, Marty Kaniger and Dan Peyton written Stein tune “Getting Straight” [1970] in another mixture of actors and reality to kick off a Rush film and immediately reaffirm his commitment to indie docufeature film art, the tragicomic sight and sound of the implicitly Coppola linked ex-Sixties civil rights campaigner and Vietnam War veteran Harry Bailey-played by Elliot Gould-giving up the indie Rebel fight and going to that unnamed Oregon college to be educated and trained to be a high school English teacher while stuck between Rebel Boomer students like his intelligent, feisty, argumentative, beautiful and implicitly Eleanor Coppola linked blonde girlfriend Jan-played by Candice Bergen-and stiff necked and conservative older and mostly male staff and admin reminded us that Coppola had kicked off his film art career with allegorical indie docufeature films like DEMENTIA 13 [1963] and YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW [1966] before creating the allegorical docufeature film FINIAN’S RAINBOW [1968] for Warner Brothers, implicitly affirming that Rush was roasting Coppola for “selling out” by working with Warners in GETTING STRAIGHT.  To affirm this implicit allegorical intent, it was noticeable that not only did the film allude to DEMENTIA 13, FINIAN’S RAINBOW and YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW, but early in the film a more aware Bailey than previous Rush characters first pondered his dangerous reflection in the mirror over the sinks of a men’s bathroom while talking about his dream of becoming a teacher and pondering the equally dangerous reflection of the dubious head of the teacher’s college, Doctor Edward Willhunt-played by Jeff Corey.  For Corey was a veteran of Old Hollywood, implicitly linking Bailey’s unlikely dream of joining the high school teaching establishment to Coppola’s equally unlikely work with the Hollywood establishment at Warners on FINIAN’S RAINBOW.

        Significantly, the sight and sound of Bailey’s second dangerous reflection appearing in the windows of the blockbuster Machine Tech wing of the college as he walked by and talked about his English teacher dream with the sympathetic English professor Doctor Caspar-played by Cecil Kellaway-reaffirmed the implicit Old Hollywood versus New Hollywood addressing intent of the film.  Just as significantly, Dr. Caspar was as dubious and doubtful about Bailey realizing his high school English teacher dream as Dr. Willhunt, and like Dr. Willhunt he did his best to dissuade Bailey from pursuing it.  In fact, Dr. Caspar even offered Bailey a fellowship in the English department so he could remain at the implicitly Old Hollywood linked college teaching English to more aware and inspiring young adult students.

        Curiously, Rush initially implied his hope or fear that Coppola would indeed accept a permanent position in the ranks of Old Hollywood into New Hollywood and use that position to try to transform Old Hollywood from the inside into New Hollywood.  Indeed, the sight and sound of Bailey desperately, despairingly, frustratingly and furiously trying to persuade the exuberantly Nixonian college president Doctor Vandenburg-played by Jon Lormer-to release the past and embrace the more liberal present in order for it to survive and stave off a righteously furious student uprising at the end of the film affirmed the implicit hope of Rush that Coppola would not entirely give up the indie Rebel docufeature film art cause and would use his membership in the Hollywood studio system to try to transform stuck in the mud old Hollywood into a more modern, progressive and truly New Hollywood.  This implication was reaffirmed by the fact that Dr. Vandenburg resembled and was implicitly linked to Universal Studios president and reputed gangster Lew Wasserman.  Indeed, the sight and sound of a mob of angry and chanting students carrying torches at a nighttime rally at the college in the next scene like the angry mob of torch carrying peasants that finally rose up in outraged fury to fight off the monster at the end of all good horror films affirmed Vandenburg’s implicit link to Wasserman, reminding us that Universal was famous for its horror films.

        Significantly, however, but not surprisingly, soon after the despairing and frustrating showdown with Dr. Vandenburg, Bailey ended any hopes of becoming a high school English teacher or accepting that offer to remain at the implicitly Old Hollywood linked college by blowing his oral exam for the English teacher fellowship due to being outraged by the homoerotic provocations of the all too knowing Dr. Lysander-played by Leonard Stone-an epic blowout that gave salacious new meaning to the phrase “Master’s Oral” and to Bailey’s favourite allegorical F. Scott Fitzgerald indie docufiction novel The Great Gatsby [1925], in one of the most explosive, memorable, moving and tragicomic meltdowns in cinematic history and one that came complete with bawdy limericks, a meltdown that broke Bailey free from the diseased and disharmonious, insane and unsound mirrorworld by asserting his vital humanity and virile heterosexuality to literally get straight and to finally and fully embrace the young, intelligent, feisty, blonde, and beautiful Jan who he had been arguing about everything with throughout the film, in the end, implying the belief and hope of Rush that Coppola would also break free from Old Hollywood and create his own innovative and modern New Hollywood indie docufeature film art, which Coppola had indeed done by the time of the release of GETTING STRAIGHT by founding the San Fran based American Zoetrope film art production company with his good and equally disenchanted with Old Hollywood friend Lucas, who was implicitly linked in the film to Bailey’s diminutive, big eared, exuberantly rule breaking and psychedelically groovin’ college friend Nick Philbert-played by Robert F. Lyons-whose tragicomic and desperate draft dodging antics included a failed attempt to escape the draft by fleeing to Canada like Lucas almost did.  Thus, it was fitting that Harrison Ford had a small role in the film as Harry and Nick’s college art teacher friend Jake given that Ford went on to act in a number of memorable Coppola and Lucas indie docufeature films.  How also fitting that Drs. Caspar and Lysander were joined at the table of the Master’s Oral by English Department colleagues who resembled and were implicitly linked to Isaac Asimov, Truman Capote, and D.W. Griffith, given that the indie docufeature film art of Coppola was often inspired by novels.

        For his part, Morrow implicitly toasted Rush in the form of indie outlaw Luther Sledge-played by James Garner-in the allegorical indie docufeature film A MAN CALLED SLEDGE [1970], released on August 13, 1970.  Four years later, Coppola also implicitly roasted Rush in the form of lonely, secretive, solitary and saxophone luvin’ San Fran indie audio surveillance man Harry Caul-played by Gene Hackman-and implied that Rush would fail to prevent the emergence of New Hollywood film art like Caul failed to prevent Ann-played by Cindy Williams-from orchestrating the murder of the mysterious Director-played by Robert Duvall-despite receiving advance warning of the plot in his latest bugging job at the end of the eerily twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film THE CONVERSATION [1974], a film released on April 7, 1974 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by the film’s dangerous reflections, allusions to GETTING STRAIGHT and the appearance of Ford as the Director’s Assistant.  Thus, it was fitting that Rush again implicitly roasted Coppola and Lucas and their American Zoetrope dreams when he donned the director/producer hats and returned with Bail, Garwood, Kovacs and GETTING STRIAGHT screenwriter Robert Kaufman to the Temple Theatre on Christmas Day of that year with his own San Fran set indie docufeature film which for the first time in his film art left behind anti-establishment indie Rebel outlaws and embraced establishment indie Rebel outlaws in his second masterpiece and most quirky, quixotic, argumentative, stunt filled, tragicomic and allegorical indie docufeature film to date, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN aka DER SUPERSCHNUFFLER [1974], released in November of ’74.


“Perfect performance-

very subtle.”


        Indeed, the tragicomic attempt of the quarrelling cinematic Odd Couple, Coppola and Lucas, to succeed as San Fran based indie film artists was linked to the equally tragicomic attempt of the perpetually quarrelling and mayhem luving cinematic Odd Couple, Freebie and the Bean-their endless quarrelling evoking that of Harry and Jan in GETTING STRAIGHT, and played by James Caan and Alan Arkin, respectively-to succeed as flunky monkey suit wearing indie San Fran Police Department [SFPD] detectives throughout the film.  The presence of Caan as Freebie implicitly affirmed the allegorical intent of the film, for he played Kilgannon in the allegorical Coppola indie docufeature film THE RAIN PEOPLE [1969], the first fine feature film from American Zoetrope, and Santino “Sonny” Corleone in the allegorical and implicitly Spielberg addressing Coppola docufeature film MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER [1972].  The appearance of Alex Rocco as the hard pressed DA overseer of Freebie and the Bean reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Coppola and Lucas, for Rocco had a memorable role as the doomed Las Vegas casino owner Moe Greene in MARIO PUZOS THE GODFATHER.  Alas, the implicit interest of Rush in Coppola and Lucas was already dated by the time of the release of the film, for while still based in the greater San Fran area, Coppola and Lucas had gone their separate indie docufeature film art ways, with Coppola sticking with American Zoetrope and Lucas heading off on his own Skywalking journey with his Lucasfilm production company.

        Curiously, and in addition, after the exuberant sexual liberation of GETTING STRAIGHT and PSYCH-OUT, soft core film artist Russ Meyer and androgynist British pop star David Bowie were also implicitly roasted in the implicit forms of portly and avuncular mobster Red Meyers and his languorously narcissistic transvestite luver-played by Jack Kruschen and Christopher Morley, respectively.  The latter met his end gunned down by Freebie after pondering his dangerously beautiful mirrorworld reflection in a mirror of a women’s room in Candlestick Park at the climatic Super Bowl end of the film in the most open implicit affirmation in a Rush film that the embrace of one’s lawless and unstable mirrorworld side led to disaster and death.  Rush also gleefully roasted the increasing tendency for mindless sex and violence in mainstream cinema throughout the hilarious film, an interest that the mainstream noticed for, ironically, quarrelling odd couple cop comedies have been a mainstream cinematic staple since FREEBIE AND THE BEAN.

        Just as curiously, Allan Arkush and Joe Dante implicitly and exuberantly roasted Rush and newcomer David Cronenberg in the implicit forms of wacky talent agent Walter Paisley and Miracle Pictures screenwriter Patrick Hobby-played by Dick Miller and Jeffrey Kramer, respectively-in their eerily twilit and allegorical and Roger Corman produced indie docufeature film HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD [1976], a film released on April 25, 1976 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by the film’s allusions to FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, PSYCH-OUT, THUNDER ALLEY, TOO SOON TO LOVE and the allegorical Cronenberg indie docufeature film SHIVERS [1975].  Curiously, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD featured clips from the eerily and presciently twilit and allegorical Paul Bartel indie docufeature film DEATH RACE 2000 [1975], a film that Bail implicitly responded to soon after the release of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD when he donned the co-writer/director/producer hats and teamed up with Dominic Frontiere and Whitey Hughes-composer for, and a stuntman who also played a Detroit hitman named Broder in, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, respectively-on the allegorical indie docufeature film GUMBALL RALLY [1976], released on July 23, 1976.




        For the film saw the implicitly Peter Fonda linked and Cobra 427 driving Michael “Mike” Bannon-played by Michael Sarrazin-elude the implicitly Morrow linked Los Angeles Police Department [LAPD] Lieutenant Roscoe-played by Normann Burton-and his Keystone Kops and beat the implicitly Bartel linked Smith-played by Tim McIntire-and the rest of a group of implicitly film artist linked drivers-including the Alfred Hitchcock resembling and implicitly linked Barney Donahue, played by J. Pat O’Malley-and the 34 hour 11 minute record on a transcontinental road race from New York to Long Beach.  As for writer/director Colin Higgins, he was implicitly not impressed with FREEBIE AND THE BEAN despite the fact that the film was one of the funniest films ever, for he returned to San Francisco and tracked down and killed the implicitly Rush linked albino hitman Rupert Stiltskin-played by Marc Lawrence-in the tragicomic San Francisco Symphony Orchestra end of the allegorical indie docufeature film FOUL PLAY [1978], released on July 14, 1978.

        For his part, Landis implicitly came to the support of Rush in the implicit form of the Bailey evoking Faber College English teacher David “Dave” Jennings-played by Donald Sutherland-and implicitly roasted Corman and Dante in the implicit forms of Faber College Dean Vernon Wormer and Faber Mayor Carmine De Pasto-played by John Vernon and Cesare Danova, respectively-in the twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film ANIMAL HOUSE [1978], a film released on July 27, 1978 whose implicit Rush addressing intent on one level was affirmed by the film’s allusions to FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, GETTING STRAIGHT, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD and THUNDER ALLEY.  The following day, veteran stuntman Hal Needham joined Bail as a film artist by implicitly responding in outraged fury to the indifference to human life during dangerous stunt sequences on film sets in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD by implicitly roasting Dante in the form of callous film artist Roger Deal-played by Robert Klein-and toasting Rush in the implicit form of aging and ailing veteran stuntman Sonny Hooper-modestly known as “…the greatest stuntman alive”, and played by Burt Reynolds-in the ominously twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film HOOPER [1978], released on July 28, 1978.


“And I’ll tell you that no damn movie

is worth a man’s life!”


        Thus, the sight and sound of the older Hooper and the young, eager and implicitly Cronenberg linked stuntman Delmore “Ski” Shidski-played by Jan-Michael Vincent-triumphing over Deal with an almost eerily twilit record 325 foot jump over a river in a rocket boosted Pontiac Firebird, in the end, implied the hope of Needham that Cronenberg and Rush would triumph over Dante with their indie docufeature film art, as well.  Indeed, the implicit Dante and Rush addressing intent of HOOPER was affirmed by the film’s allusions to A MAN CALLED DAGGER, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, and HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD; by the sight and sound of the Miller resembling and implicitly linked first assistant director [AD] Tony-played by Alfie Wise; by the Bail resembling and implicitly linked stuntman Cully-played by James Best-who helped Hooper oversee stunt action in the allegorical docufeature film THE SPY WHO LAUGHED AT DANGER [197?], the James Bond evoking film within the film being created by the callous Deal; and, last but not  least, by the presence of Candice Rialson, who played actor/stuntwoman Candy Hope aka Candy Wednesday in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, who returned in an uncredited cameo as an approving spectator of a fall Hooper made out of a helicopter and into an airbag far below.

        Curiously, Cronenberg also implicitly responded to HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD and implicitly roasted Dante and Lucas in the implicit forms of drag racer Gary Black aka “the Blacksmith” and Fast Co drag race team owner Phil Adamson-played by Cedric Smith and John Saxon, respectively-and implicitly toasted Rush and Stanley Kubrick in the implicit forms of indie drag racers Billy Brooker aka “the Kid” and Lonnie Johnson aka “Lucky Man”-played by Nicholas Campbell and William Smith, respectively-in the allegorical indie docufeature film FAST COMPANY [1979], a film released on March 18, 1979 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by allusions to HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, THUNDER ALLEY and the allegorical indie docufeature films AMERICAN GRAFFITI [1973] and STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE [1977].

        Not surprisingly, Lucas and B.W.L. “Bill” Norton were implicitly not impressed with the implicit roasting Coppola and Lucas received in FAST COMPANY and FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, for they implicitly roasted Rush in the eerily twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI [1979], a film released on August 3, 1979 whose implicit allegorical intent was affirmed by the film’s allusions to FAST COMPANY, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, GETTING STRAIGHT, HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, PSYCH-OUT and THUNDER ALLEY and the appearance of Ford as the motorcycle riding San Fran traffic cop, Bob Falfa.  As for Rush, he donned the director/producer hats and teamed up again with Bail, Frontiere, Garwood, Hughes, Roarke and Rocco to implicitly address Needham and bring his implicit commitment to indie docufeature film art, the Rush focus and exuberant stunts to trimatic new heights in his third masterpiece, the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical and Ozian themed indie docufeature film THE STUNT MAN [1980], released on March 26, 1980 and inspired by the equally eerily twilit and allegorical Paul Brodeur indie docufiction novel The Stuntman [1970].


“I mean,

that is a public bridge,

and a public river.

You go there,

without permits,

without any precautions,

and get a man killed.”


        Curiously, after a second opening title that unusually and proudly proclaimed “…A RICHARD RUSH FILM”, the film began with a prone dog panting in the hot sun, a tragicomic sight and sound that evoked the prone and panting dog at the beginning of the allegorical Akira Kurosawa docufeature film STRAY DOG [1949], preparing us for the arrival of another traumatized war veteran in need of healing like Murakami-played by Mifune Toshiro.  Soon Frontiere’s ragtime inflected Main Theme was heard, evoking the ragtime inflected, allegorical, Frontiere, Bobby Hart and Danny Janssen written Hart tune “You And Me” [1974], the Main Theme of FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, preparing audiences for more exuberant stunts to come.  As the Main Theme began, two California Highway Police [CHiP] officers-played by Frank Avila and Robert Caruso, respectively-who evoked the two police officers met at the beginning of TOO SOON TO LOVE, arrived in their patrol car in the parking lot of a roadside diner to scare off the panting and surly stray dog and apprehend someone named Cameron, reaffirming the link to FREEBIE AND THE BEAN and returning the Keystone Kops to a Rush film, this time also evoking the pursuing flying monkeys of the implicitly Third Reich linked Wicked Witch of the West-played by Margaret Hamilton-in THE WIZARD OF OZ.

        Leaving their car and entering the diner, the two Keystone Kops sidled up to their fugitive Cameron aka “Cam” inside the roadside diner, a scruffy, bearded, messy haired and wild eyed character of medium height and build-played by Steve Railsback-who resembled Charles “Charlie” Manson, which was not surprising, given that Railsback had in fact played Manson in the allegorical Tom Gries docufeature telefilm HELTER SKELTER [1976].  Significantly, Cameron also resembled and was implicitly linked to Needham, affirming that Rush was implicitly addressing HOOPER in THE STUNT MAN, perhaps because he disliked the larger than life character of Hooper, or disliked the dangerous and reckless on and off set behaviour of Hooper, Ski and the rest of the stuntmen and stuntwomen in HOOPER.  Of course, Cam’s scarey, ragged and bearded appearance also implied that the Scarecrow had fittingly arrived first in this Ozian themed film.

        Significantly, despite being handcuffed by the two Keystone Kops, Cam easily and desperately evaded arrest by the police and fled the diner to freedom out its back door and into the woods behind the establishment.  Curiously, this reminded us of the sight and sound of the reluctant stuntwoman and aspiring actress Candy Wednesday fleeing into the woods to escape arrest by the police for her unsuspecting involvement as the getaway driver in a bank heist gone bad pulled off by the implicitly Lucas linked Rico Bandello and the implicitly Ron Howard linked Duke Mantee-played by W.L. Luckey and John Kramer, respectively-and heading to the protection and anonymity of Miracle Pictures-“…if it gets made, it’s a miracle!”-at the beginning of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, implying that Rush was also responding to that film on one level in THE STUNT MAN.  Not far away from the diner, Cam used a pair of cable cutters stolen from two telephone linemen-one of whom, Don Kennedy, resembled football hero Terry Bradshaw, who had a bit part as a pugilistic bar patron in HOOPER-to cut the chain linking his cuffs, ending the film’s short and action packed opening prologue.

        Act One then began with Cam arriving at and crossing a small bridge that resembled the bridge blown up as a result of an earthquake at the end of HOOPER, reaffirming the implicit Needham addressing intent of THE STUNT MAN.  Significantly, the loss of this bridge forced the veteran stuntman Hooper and his young protégé Ski to blast 325 feet across a river in that rocket boosted Pontiac Firebird to appease Deal in the dangerous climatic stunt that ended HOOPER, preparing us for an equally dangerous climatic auto stunt at the end of THE STUNT MAN.  Right on cue, while crossing this small bridge, Cam was almost run down by a Dusenberg driven by a young blonde male driver-played by Steve’s brother, Michael Railsback.  Reflexively trying to save his life, Cam threw a metal bolt lying on the bridge at the windshield of the car, sending the vehicle out of control and off the bridge and into the water below where it promptly disappeared, possibly killing the blonde driver and adding a potential murderous mystery to what had started as a crime drama.  Curiously, this possible death evoked the death of the Wicked Witch of the East at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ, thus setting off the healing Ozian dream.  The possible death also evoked the death of a stuntwoman-played by Alana Smithee-in a questionable skydiving “accident” on the set of the exuberantly callous and vainglorious quickie exploitation film artist Erich Von Leppe-played by Paul Bartel-at the beginning of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, reaffirming that Rush was responding to that film in THE STUNT MAN.

        Significantly, after the disappearance of the blonde driver and his Dusenberg in the river, Cam was buzzed by a group of unknown people in an orange helicopter that resembled the orange Jet Ranger helicopter from which Deal safely watched the final spectacular stunt at the end of HOOPER, preparing us again for another spectacular stunt at the end of THE STUNT MAN.  No doubt thinking that it was the pursuing police in that helicopter searching for him, Cam ran frantically across the bridge onto what turned out to be Coronado Island in the bay off San Diego.  Soon a disconsolate Cam became the second unusually self aware and understanding character in a Rush film after Bailey in GETTING STRAIGHT to stare all too knowingly at the dangerous reflection of his bearded and bedraggled self in a mirror outside a tourist souvenir shoppe to the sound of the equally shrewd, knowing, wry, haunting and allegorical Frontiere and Norman Gimbel written Dusty Springfield tune “Bits And Pieces” [1980].  A dangerous reflection that did not please him, and a dangerous reflection soon openly linked to film art, for after unhappily pondering his miserable Manson mirrorworld reflection, Cam wandered over to a crowd of onlookers outside the huge, white, rambling, and castle of the Wicked Witch of the West or Hollywood studio evoking Hotel Del Coronado, a crowd who were watching second unit director/stunt coordinator/stuntman Bail, looking and dressing like Cully in HOOPER to yet again implicitly affirm that the Needham film was being addressed in THE STUNT MAN, directing a Great War battle scene on a coastal beach that evoked a similar battle scene for MACHETE MAIDENS OF MORA-TAU [197?], one of the quickie exploitation films directed by Von Leppe in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, adding a film within a film as in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD and HOOPER and a spoof documentary level to THE STUNT MAN.

        Soon the violence of the Great War battle sequence, with its eerily and presciently twilit and simulated decapitations and dismemberments, shocked the assembled onlookers and Cam.  When the sequence mercifully ended, and the gory sprawling bodies of the stuntmen returned to acerbic life, the orange helicopter returned and disgorged the despondent form of the implicitly Great Oz linked film artist Eli Cross-played by Peter O’Toole.  Cross sadly and bitterly lamented the death of the driver in the Dusenberg, who turned out to be a stuntman named Bert whose name evoked the stunts that Burt Reynolds did in HOOPER and who doubled for the equally blonde and implicitly Cowardly Lion linked lead actor Raymond Bailey-his name evoking Harry Bailey in GETTING STRAIGHT and Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow in THE WIZARD OF OZ, and played by Roarke.

Curiously, while the Great Cross lamented the loss of Bert, an old lady fell off some rocks along the shore and went into the water, causing Cam to leap gallantly into the waves and rescue the “old” woman, who turned out to be the lead actress of the film and the film within the film, the implicitly Dorothy linked Nina Franklin-ironically but fittingly played by Corman alumni Barbara Hershey-adding another level of swelling romance to the film.  Significantly, Franklin resembled Jenny in PSYCH-OUT and Hooper’s school teacher sweetie Gwen Doyle-played by Sally Field-in HOOPER, and had a surname that evoked L. Frank Baum, the author of the allegorical children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz [1900].  Ominously, the surname also evoked that of Morrow’s frustrated Captain Everett Franklin in the allegorical John Hough indie docufeature film DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY [1974], a film which also featured dangerous stunts involving a helicopter, in another eerily twilit memory of the future.

Perhaps pleased by Cam’s rescue of Nina and moved by the revelation that Cam, like Bailey in GETTING STRAIGHT, was a Vietnam vet, albeit a Vietnam vet on the run from the police for reasons still unknown, a revelation that added a Vietnam war layer to the crime drama, murder mystery, Great War, documentary film and romance layers of the film, the Great Cross persuaded Cam to hide from Chief Jake-played by Rocco-and his officers in open sight by replacing and disguising himself as the reborn “Lucky” Bert, the stunt double of lead actor Bailey, on the set of the eerily and presciently twilit and allegorical Cross indie docufeature film DEVIL’S SQUADRON [198?], a film that evoked the allegorical John Guillermin docufeature film THE BLUE MAX [1966], an evocation helped by the blonde hair of Bailey and “Lucky” Bert, which evoked that of WWI German flying ace Leutnant Bruno Stachel-played by George Peppard.  While a good offer for Cam, it was noticeable that the dangerous reflections of Cam and the Great Cross were seen in a ground floor window of the Hotel Del Coronado as Cross led Cam off to the makeup room to transform him into “Lucky” Bert.  Not that Cross noticed as he welcomed Cam to the film and ushered him into the grand Hotel Del Coronado, persuading Cam to close his eyes before he entered cinematic Wonderland and bringing an end to Act One.

Act Two began with Cam opening his eyes to see himself in a makeup mirror literally transformed into “Lucky” Bert the stuntman, a dangerous mirrorworld reflection that was ironically tanned, handsome, clean shaven, sexy and Needham resembling.  Soon Bail arrived to teach Cam the ropes-literally-of safe stunt work, revealing the secrets of the stunt trade and pulling Cam deeper into the world of celluloid fantasy.  And into deeper romance, as the passionate luv between Cam and Nina began to catch fire in the main tower of the castle evoking Hotel Del Coronado.  Then Act Two ended with the Great Cross reaffirming his promise to help Cam evade the police by keeping him on set disguised as “Lucky” Bert, much to the resigned dismay and frustration of the implicitly Tin Man linked screenwriter of DEVIL’S SQUADRON, Sam Baum-played by Allen Garfield aka Allen Goorwitz.

Act Three began with Cam heading off on his Ozian elemental journey by performing and completing his first madcap stunts fighting tragicomic German Great War soldiers high atop of the sprawling roof of the Hotel Del Castlenado, a mayhem and fiery explosion filled sequence that linked him to Fire and which included a fall through a window and into a brothel that implicitly affirmed that Cam and Nina were falling in luv.  Indeed, this implication was openly affirmed in the next chaotic stunt sequence that saw Cam linked to Air after escaping a ground battle by leaping onto the wing of a passing bi-plane-piloted by either Jim Appleby or Wayner Berg-a sequence that ended with Cam falling off the wing when the plane went out of control after the machine-gunning of its pilot by another pilot.  For this second fall led to a luvmaking scene between Cam and Nina in their room in the Hotel Del Coronado.  Act Three then ended with another talk between Cam and Cross, this one more tense as Cross insisted that Cam not know all of the details of his stunts beforehand in order to make his reactions to the unexplained aspects more real had convinced Cam that the Great Cross was trying to kill him on camera with an ominously twilit stunt.

Significantly, the sight and sound of Cam replacing “Lucky” Bert reminded us that the death of the unknown female stuntwoman on the Von Leppe set at the beginning of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD led to the arrival of naïve and hopeful actress/stuntwoman Candy Wednesday, reaffirming the implication that Rush was also replying to Arkush and Dante on one level in THE STUNT MAN.  Indeed, the fact that Cam began to worry that the Great Cross was trying to kill him in an eerily and presciently twilit snuff stunt on camera disguised as an accident for the sick thrill of getting away with it reaffirmed that Rush addressed the Arkush and Dante film in THE STUNT MAN, for Cam’s fears were justified as they reminded us that after the opening “accidental” death of the stuntwoman, two actresses, the Margaret Atwood resembling and implicitly linked Jill McBain and Bobbi Quackenbush-played by Tara Strohmeier and Rita George, respectively-were murdered on camera over the course of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD by vengeful lead actress Mary McQueen-played by Woronov.

Act Four began with a house to house battle in a besieged French town that linked Cam to Earth and ended after more swelling romance between Cam and Nina and surprising and ironic revelations that, despite transforming into his dangerously sexy blonde mirrorworld reflection, Cam was actually a Good guy whose exploit that had infuriated the police was actually tragicomically inane.  The Act then ended with Cam locking Nina in the trunk of the Dusenberg late one night in the hotel garage so that the two luvers could escape to freedom in the morning.  And so Act Five began with the director, cast and crew of DEVIL’S SQUADRON arriving back at the small bridge that literally bridged reality and cinematic fantasy at the beginning of the film.  Here Cam tried to drive the Dusenberg across the bridge to freedom with Nina in the trunk, only to have a special effects technician blow the rigged right front tire of the fleeing car and send him off the bridge into the river below.

However, and fortunately for Cam and Nina, Nina had already been freed from the trunk, and Cam managed to keep a cool head and swim out of the submerged car to the surface of the river, breaking free from his dangerous and diabolically sexy mirrorworld reflection, successfully surviving his dip in Water to complete his healing and harmonizing Ozian elemental journey, and pulling off the stunt in a way that implied the hope of Rush that Needham would survive as a film artist and make films that were more thoughtful and mature than HOOPER.  The sight and sound of “Lucky” Cam and the Great Cross finally ending their film long struggle and accepting and respecting each other and agreeing to work together to complete DEVIL’S SQUADRON, was also significant.  For the ending signalled that the battle hat had raged between Old and New Hollywood since the late Sixties was now over, and that the idealistic and Vietnam War scarred Cams of New Hollywood and the crassly commercial and Good War scarred Crosses of Old Hollywood would now unite into one Hollywood with their dual embrace of the commercial and idealistic artbuster film, perhaps still best epitomized by the allegorical Kubrick docufeature film 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY [1968].  Alas, this détente was soon rent and overshadowed by the TZ disaster, when the eerily twilit memories of the disastrous future seen in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, HOOPER, THE STUNT MAN and THUNDER ALLEY proved to be all too prescient.

        Curiously, shortly after the TZ disaster, Rush was implicitly roasted in the form of college acting teacher Owen-played by Bob Brady-in the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical and Ozian themed Slava Tsukerman indie docufeature film LIQUID SKY [1982], released in August of ’82.  Shortly afterwards, Rush was also implicitly roasted in the form of Hope police deputy Arthur “Art” Galt-played by Jack Starrett, who played CHiP Sergeant Bingham in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS-in the eerily and presciently twilit and allegorical Ted Kotcheff docufeature film FIRST BLOOD [1982], released on October 22, 1982.  Then, after pondering the dread allegorical Zone Wars, Rush implicitly addressed the TZ disaster in the twilit, allegorical, Rush co-written and initially directed, and Roger Spottiswoode completed, indie docufeature film AIR AMERICA [1990], released on August 10, 1990 and inspired by the allegorical Christopher Robbins book Air America [1978].


“There’ll be another new war

 opening at a theatre near you.”


        Curiously, the film began with a prologue set in Laos in 1969 that saw an American cargo plane flying slowly out of the background distance and into the poppy field foreground in an evocation of Rush focus and then bust up a village as it dropped parachuted and non-parachuted supplies to the sound of the allegorical and Dan Hartman written Edgar Winter Group tune “Free Ride” [1973] before being shot down.  Then the film implicitly linked righteously furious, embattled and disharmonious indie Zone War film artists and their implicitly twilit and cinematic salvoes to the equally indie, embattled, half crazed, adrenaline addicted and Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] funded outlaw American pilots of “Air America”, pilots who evoked the embattled Great War flyers of DEVIL’S SQUADRON, the film within the film in THE STUNT MAN, and the equally adrenaline addicted indie stunt drivers of THUNDER ALLEY, iconoclastic pilots who made aerial supply runs from a secret American base in “…the wild, wild East” of Laos to isolated villagers and American backed soldiers in Laos and Vietnam in beat up planes-one numbered 238, only one number short of the 237 date of the TZ disaster, to implicitly affirm the film’s interest in the TZ disaster-during the Vietnam War.  Indeed, the tragicomic sight and sound of a helicopter piloted by the Bean and Freebie evoking and implicitly Lucas and Spielberg linked Eugene “Gene” Ryack and William “Billy” Covington-played by Mel Gibson and Robert Downey jr., respectively-having its tail rotor knocked out by a Viet Cong bullet and then spiralling to the ground and crashing into the jungle below reminded us that an explosion on a Vietnam War village set that disabled a tail rotor caused the fatal helicopter crash in the TZ disaster, openly linking the film to the TZ disaster and the pilots of Air America to the TZ disaster incensed and haunted film artists of New Hollywood to affirm the implicit TZ disaster addressing intent of the film.

        Fittingly, the fact that Gibson played Captain Paul Kelly in the allegorical Tim Burstall indie docufeature film ATTACK FORCE Z [1982] and Guy Hamilton in the allegorical Peter Weir indie docufeature film THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY [1982], that Burt Kwouk, who played the pragmatically duplicitous Laotian General Lu Soong, appeared as Cato Fong in the allegorical Blake Edwards indie docufeature film TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER [1982] and Tim Thomerson, who played the American pilot Babo, turned up as Doctor Knute Lanyon in the allegorical and implicitly Landis roasting Jerry Belson indie docufeature film JEKYLL AND HYDE…TOGETHER AGAIN [1982] reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Landis and the twilit and disastrous year of 1982.  Thus, the fact that Covington, Ryack, the implicitly Coppola linked Senator Davenport-played by Lane Smith-and most of the other pilots of Air America-including indie pilots implicitly linked to Marshall, Tim Burton and Rob Reiner, respectively-survived their crashes and their feverish sojourn in Laos and Vietnam and rescued a group of Laotian villagers in the end, reminding us that Morrow had tried but failed to rescue Chen and Le from a Vietnamese village the night of the TZ disaster, and triumphed over the blockbuster drug loot profit lusting and implicitly James Cameron linked Major Donald Lemond-played by Ken Jenkins-and his second-in-command, the implicitly Cronenberg linked Rob Diehl-his name evoking that of Roger Deal in HOOPER, and played by David M. Grant-implied that Rush and Spottiswoode hoped that Coppola, Lucas, Spielberg and other American film artists would also survive and leave behind the TZ disaster and the dread allegorical Zone Wars and move on to other things like beating pesky Canadian film artists with hit films in the new decade of the Nineties, in the end.  Indeed, the film’s allusions to MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, the Indiana Jones trilogy, the allegorical Lucas indie docufeature film AMERICAN GRAFFITI [1973], the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical and implicitly New Hollywood roasting Spielberg docufeature film 1941 [1979], and the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and implicitly Lucas addressing Spielberg docufeature film ALWAYS [1989] affirmed the implicit allegorical intent of the film.

        Significantly, Allan Moyle implicitly celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the release of GETTING STRAIGHT with the twilit, allegorical, and eerily Gardevil anticipating indie docufeature film PUMP UP THE VOLUME [1990], which saw and heard the implicitly Coppola linked teenage pirate J.D. DJ Mark Hunter aka “Happy Harry Hardon”-played by Christian Slater-rant on over the airwaves about the dismal state of the Union throughout the film like Bailey to affirm its implicit allegorical intent, an implication affirmed by the film’s allusions to GETTING STRAIGHT.  An implicit twentieth anniversary ode to GETTING STRAIGHT that no doubt inspired Rush to don the director’s hat and team up again with Bail, Corey, Frontiere and Hughes on his final twilit, allegorical, unusually computer generated imagery [CGI] enhanced, and Ozian themed indie docufeature film COLOR OF NIGHT [1994], released on August 19, 1994.


“To deny red is to deny emotion.”


        Significantly, after a third opening title wistfully declared “…a film by Richard RUSH”, the film began with the despondent and implicitly Wicked Witch of the East linked Michelle-played by Kathleen Wilhoite-sitting in front of a mirror furiously applying blood red lipstick to her lips and teeth in her expensive and claustrophobic apartment, immediately implying that Michelle was parting ways with a stable, sane, healthy and harmonious reality and transforming herself into her unstable, insane, diseased, disharmonious and quite dangerous mirrorworld reflection.   Indeed, she soon pulled a gun out of a drawer, cocked it and stuck it in her mouth as if to kill herself, openly affirming her dangerous and diseased mood.  Significantly, in the next scene, Michelle and her psychologist/psychoanalyst, the implicitly Kubrick and Great Oz linked Doctor William “Bill” Capa-his implicit link to Kubrick affirmed by the film’s allusions to the allegorical and implicitly Hitchcock addressing Kubrick indie docufeature films KILLER’S KISS [1955] and LOLITA [1962], and played by Bruce Willis-were reflected in the mirrors and windows of his equally claustrophobic office high up in a towering building, implying that Capa was now leaving behind sane and stable reality and joining Michelle in the dangerous and unstable mirrorworld, like Huey did when he sold his old car to Jim in his barbershop in TOO SOON TO LOVE. 

Alas, Michelle soon affirmed her unstable state by leaping out of Capa’s window to her doom, her dangerous reflection falling with her on the windows of the New York tower behind her.  A sight that shocked Dr. Capa so badly that when he looked out the window, the pool of blood he could see gathering around Michelle’s body on the street below changed from red to grey as he went colour blind and emotionally blank from shock, evoking Jenny’s loss of hearing due to childhood trauma in PSYCH-OUT.  A fitting reminder, for Dr. Capa soon headed to California, albeit landing in L.A. rather than San Fran, to seek solace in the company of his psychologist friend, the Spielberg resembling and implicitly linked Dr. Robert “Bob” Moore-played by Scott Bakula-who introduced him to his Monday Night Group patients and then drove him to his sprawling white mini-castle of a house that evoked the Hotel Del Coronado in THE STUNT MAN.  Significantly, the number of the house was 29377, evoking the 237 date of the TZ disaster to affirm the film’s twilit ambience. 

A twilit shadow affirmed soon after the arrival of Dr. Capa in L.A., for Dr. Moore was stabbed to death by someone with a rotoring blade that evoked the rotors of the falling helicopter of the TZ disaster.  Indeed, as Moore lay pierced by the glass of his broken inner office door and gasping out his last breaths, a helicopter was seen through a window flying by outside, affirming the implicit link between Moore’s murder and the TZ disaster, and reminding us that the disaster had killed the career and reputation of Spielberg.  Curiously, after the murder of Dr. Moore, Dr. Capa took over his Monday Night Group patients, which included the masochistic and implicitly Burton and Scarecrow linked indie artist Casey Heinz-played by Kevin J. O’Connor-the haunted, depressed and implicitly Cameron and Tin Man linked ex-Los Angeles Police Department [LAPD] vice squad cop Buck-played by Lance Henriksen, who openly linked the film to Cameron and the twilit and disastrous year of ’82 via his character Police Chief Steven “Steve” Kimbrough in the eerily twilit, allegorical and implicitly Sir Ridley Scott roasting Cameron indie docufeature film PIRANHA PART TWO: THE SPAWNING [1982]-the implicitly Kathryn Bigelow and Glinda the Good linked nymphomaniac Sondra Dorio-played by Lesley A. Warren, who also linked the film openly to 1982 via her character Norma Cassady in the allegorical Edwards docufeature film VICTOR/VICTORIA [1982]-and the obsessive compulsive and possibly William Gibson and Cowardly Lion linked Clark-played by Brad Dourif.  Last but not least was the most troubled and complex of all the patients, the implicitly Dorothy and Sofia Carmina [SCC] Coppola linked schizophrenic Rose Dexter-played by Jane March-who spent most of the film pretending to be her dead brother Richard “Richie” Dexter. 

Intriguingly, when she wasn’t passing herself off as Richie, Rose was usually pretending to be the ironically named Bonnie, the film’s implicit Wicked Witch of the West, a truly bewitching character who used her beauty and sensuality to wrap Buck, Casey, Clark, and Sondra around her finger and who implicitly symbolized the equally bewitching and heartbreaking power of film art, a bewitching power seen in dangerous mirrorworld reflections in the film.  Significantly, the slow discovery that Rose was having a relationship with all of the other patients in the Monday Night Group and with Dr. Capa reminded us that the luvly and equally bewitching blonde teen Laura Palmer-played by Sheryl Lee-was slowly discovered to be having relationships with all sorts of people in the fog enshrouded and haunted town of Twin Peaks, Washington in the twilit and allegorical David Lynch indie telemoving painting series TWIN PEAKS [1990-91], and the twilit and allegorical Lynch indie moving painting TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME [1992], implying that Lynch was being addressed in COLOR OF NIGHT.

Indeed, this implicit interest in Lynch was affirmed by the fact that the murderer of Dr. Moore and also of Heinz turned out to be Rose’s brother, the troubled and implicitly Lynch linked indie artist Dale Dexter-played by Andrew Lowery-who had gone psycho as a result of being molested by a psychiatrist named Dr. Niedelmeyer as a child.  The name of Dale Dexter reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Lynch, for it evoked that of the implicitly Screamin’ Stephen King linked Federal Bureau of Investigations [FBI] Special Agent Dale Cooper-played by Kyle MacLachlan-in TWIN PEAKS and TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, while Dexter’s fondness for working with wood evoked Lynch’s fondness for working with wood.  Last but not least, the presence of Dourif also affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Lynch, for the actor played Evil House Harkonnen Mentat Piter De Vries in the twilit and allegorical Lynch indie moving painting DUNE [1984], and Raymond in the equally twilit, allegorical, and Ozian themed Lynch indie moving painting BLUE VELVET [1986].  Thus, the sight and sound of Bill soothing and freeing Rose from her dangerously splintered and schizoid multiple personality reflections, a liberation that allowed Rose to save Dr. Capa by killing Dale with a nail gun at the height of the climatic battle at Dexter’s art shoppe, in the end, Rush implied his hope that the film art of Kubrick would defeat that of Lynch, probably in retaliation for the universally hated TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME.

        And so Dr. Capa made up for his inability to prevent the suicidal leap of Michelle at the beginning of the film and brought the film full circle by saving Rose before she died one dark and stormy night falling from a tower on the roof of Dexter’s art shoppe, and Bill and Rose embraced in the passionate and rainswept end like Jim and Cathy embraced near the surging surf at the end of TOO SOON TO LOVE, bringing the indie docufeature film art of Rush full healing and harmonizing circle.  And so Rush reaffirmed his commitment to indie docufeature film art and ended his storied film art career on an unusual note with a Hitchcock evoking and psychologically troubled suspense thriller.  A suspense thriller that capped off a fine film art career that influenced New Hollywood and that lived on to this day, most recently when Quentin Tarantino fittingly collaborated with Columbia Pictures on the twilit, allegorical and CGI free indie docufeature film ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD [2019], a film that alluded to the oeuvre of Rush and made fond use of the Rush focus to implicitly affirm that the film was a fond ode to Rush on one level, making it fitting that Dern appeared as Spahn Ranch owner George Spahn in the film.  An indomitably indie oeuvre that warned film artists and audiences of the perils of leaving behind sane and stable reality and embracing the insane and unstable mirrorworld fantasy revealed by…dangerous reflections.







Brodeur, Paul.  The Stuntman.  New York: Ballantine Books,