Record City

Itís important to consciously register the medium, so its peculiarities donít exercise undue influence. This video-to-film transfer has the qualities of kinescope, but in color, and thereís many a treasure in the kinescope vaults.

Itís not surprising that Ron J. Friedman has written a brilliant script, or that so many leading actors are brilliant in it. The surprise is Dennis Steinmetzís direction, remarkably knowledgeable and skillful in all respects.

The style might have come from New York or Chicago, plausibly, though itís set in a San Fernando Valley sort of milieu, but the treatment is echt Hollywood through and through. Hollywoodís always had a corps of actors swelling the scenes in quiet parts who are marvelously able, and you see them here. The gags and handling have every bit of the mastery you find in screwball and slapstick, and this is not even to mention the blind man who enters the record store and talks to a life-size cutout, and later intrudes on a police stakeout in a menís room stall, and is Alan Oppenheimer behind those Foster Grants (in plaid jacket and striped tie). The gravity of Larry Storchís deaf man similarly, Jack Carter as a Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey straight man, Frank Gorshin as a robber in various disguises (one-eyed rabbi, great white hunter, Sherlock Holmes, nun), Sorrell Booke as the cop, etc., this is all grand comedy, with Michael Callan in particular outdoing himself as a randy assistant manager (mustache, open shirt, gold jewelry).

Ruth Buzzi as the cleaning lady throws a bucket of water on an exposed wire and shorts out the talent show, which is filmed not without satire but with the greatest enjoyment. Ted Lange is one funky hipster, Ed Begley, Jr. (excellent in support, superb in a leading position) models his role of a larcenous employee right before the camera, and the rest of the cast know all the ropes and carry out their business perfectly.