THE HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS
Written and directed by Floyd Mutrux (American Hot Wax), THE HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS was an American Graffiti-like comedy that recounted the antics of a gang of high school students on Halloween night, 1965. Signed to star was a cast of young actors who would achieve greater fame in the years to come: Tony Danza, Michelle Pfeiffer, Fran Drescher and Robert Wuhl.
To recreate the mid-sixties, Mutrux began with the key set, Tubby’s Drive-In. The director found a fire-damaged A&W fast food stand in Van Nuys, California, and rebuilt it from the ground up. Topped off with a neon sign, the set even had a working kitchen installed to create the perfect ambiance.
Mutrux: “People thought it was the real thing. They’d drive in off the streets and demand our eight-cent special. When we said we were making a movie, they’d point wistfully to the menu—and prices—and ask couldn’t we serve them anyway?”
To collect the convoy of custom cars that appear in the film, Mutrux assigned automotive sleuth Billy Davis to search out and acquire a set of “muscle cars.” The result was the largest and most eclectic collection of hot rods, roadsters, and street racers assembled at one time. Included were a “chopped” and “channeled” 1940 Ford coupe, the Hemi-Cuda (a combination of a compact Plymouth Barracuda frame and a “Hemi” engine), a 1961 Cadillac “Eureka” pick-up truck, a 427 Ford Cobra (the fastest production car ever assembled in Detroit), a 1946 “Woody” station wagon, and Mutrux’s own custom Porsche.
Although the $4 million production was scheduled to begin earlier, Mutrux decided to push his start date back to July 9, 1979, to accommodate cinematographer William A. Fraker, who was still at work on Steven Spielberg’s 1941.
Mutrux: “It gave us more time than anticipated for casting and rehearsals. We needed it. Despite what you may have heard, there is a shortage of attractive young talent in Hollywood.”
When THE HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS finally began principal photography, most of the scenes were lensed at night, rather than in the daytime (to avoid the trickery of “day for night” shots). As Mutrux was a selfdescribed adherent of the “get in, get out and wrap” school of filmmaking, production was completed in 35 days rather than the scheduled 43.
Mutrux: “My films come in on schedule, not because l’m out to prove anything, but because l think that the first two or three takes are generally the best anyway. I’d rather fill the frame with music, jokes, dancing, fun, and go on to the next set-up when the energy levet is high.
THE HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS was released on May 16, 1980, and grossed an astonishing $13 million in just four weeks.
With a cast headed by Robert Wuhl Tony Danza and (in alphabetical order), Fran Drescher Moosie Drier, Leigh French, Randy Gornel, Gary Graham, Sandy Heiberg, James Jeter, Stuart Pankin, P,R. Paul, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gailard Sartain, and Richard Schaal, “The Hollywood Knights,” an outrageous comedy, was written and directed by Floyd Mutrux. Richard Lederer produced and William Tennant was executive producer for the Polygram Pictures production released by Columbia Pictures.
“The Hollywood Knights” soundtrack album, released by Casablanca Records, is a compilation of some of the biggest all-time hits from one of the most joyous eras in American music the 1960’s.
The Soundtrack album is a faithful representation of the musical stylings of that era. The motion picture is set in 1965.
The album also utilizes the talents of one of today’s top Casablanca recording acts, Brooklyn Dreams, who wrote and perform the title track. The perfect three-part harmony of Brooklyn Dreams (Bruce Sudan°, Joe Esposito and Eddie Hokenson), is a welcome to a Sixties past and succeeds in capturing the enthusiasm as well as the intricacies of that period’s music. The tune “Hollywood Knights” was produced by Kenny Vance, an ex-member of the very popular Sixties’ group Jay & The Americans. The movie score and soundtrack album were impressively collated into one single work by Rick Eaker.
Eaker is a music historian and expert on period music and its application to films. Recently he was music consultant and coordinator on the hit films “American Hot Wax” and “Animal House.”