Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fast Company, Familiar Faces

Today I watched David Cronenberg's 1979 drag-racing movie, Fast Company. I watched it for two reason: Cronenberg is a great director and I hope to one day see all of his films (I've seen about 75 percent of them at this point), and I heard that it was filmed in Edmonton.

Fast Company is a solid B-movie and worth watching just to see well-known character actors John Saxon and William Smith deliver their typically passionate performances, but it's especially interesting for Albertans, who will recognize Highway 2, Jasper National Park, the old Edmonton International Speedway, a Western Drug Mart (remember those?), Doug Main playing himself as an ITV newscaster, Michael Bell (from those annoying Brick commercials) playing a reporter from Spokane, Chuck Chandler as the race announcer, and Whyte Avenue circa the late 1970s, with the Princess Theatre prominent (doubling as a street in Spokane). There are also glimpses of 630 CHED's old logo and an Edmonton Oilers sign.

What's even more interesting is that Alberta isn't just a shooting location, but most of the movie (aside from a side trip to Washington state, still shot in Alberta) actually takes place in Edmonton and environs. It's kind of a kick to imagine that John Saxon hung around, and neat to hear Michael Smith say "Wouldn't you rather come back to Edmonton and race with me?" The exciting climax features a funny car chasing a light plane, which crashes into a semi-trailer right on the raceway. If something like that really happened in Edmonton, it would stay on the news for a decade.

On a related note, I followed Fast Company with Cronenberg's other 1979 feature, The Brood. Talk about a complete whiplash in tone, content and impact. Zowie. Let's just say if you're going to run a double bill like I just did, be prepared for some strange dreams afterwards. I certainly am.


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