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Release Me
February 1, 2005
by Craig Curtice

I am among the forgotten films stacked on dusty shelves in movie studio storage rooms. Sadly I’ve slipped through the cracks in the modern digital age and worse yet, my old worn-out rental copies on laserdiscs, Beta and VHS are disappearing faster than mom & pop video stores.

I demand and deserve a proper release on DVD. And I want lots of special features too, like deleted scenes, commentaries, Dolby sound, and 1:85 widescreen aspect ratios too – not that full-frame crap. It’s also tragic that my corresponding soundtracks have still never been issued on compact disc. For shame. Release Me!

Over the Edge (1979)
It Really Happened.

Sometimes disguised as an after school morality play and other times as a late-night horror flick, Over The Edge was primarily discovered on HBO by a Fast Times-loving audience in the early-80’s. A gritty film based on actual accounts of kids terrorizing a planned suburban California community, few theaters ran the film in 1979 for fear of copycat teen violence. Directed by Jonathan Kaplan, Over The Edge was shot in Colorado in1978 with a large cast of young teens including Matt Dillon prior to his S.E. Hinton character days.

Decades before the advent of satellite television, Internet, and ipods, the film depicts bored teens defying authority figures, drinking & drugging, and listening to vinyl records through giant headphones. This highly influential movie left an indelible pop culture mark on kids everywhere including Kurt Cobain, who related to character Claude Zachary and with the prolonged ache of teenage existence.

Sometimes a film is only as good as it’s soundtrack and this one is superb. Over The Edge plays like a classic hard rock musical yearbook signed by Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Ramones, Jimi Hendrix, and The Cars. Van Halen’s “You Really Got Me” perfectly captures the urgent excitement upon entering a teenage suburban house party, while Valerie Carter’s soaring vocals on “Ooh Child” during the euphoric finale are powerfully cathartic. This film rocks.

Links: Over The Edge fan site

The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979)
As jocks they were jokes…the twelve nuttiest, goofiest, spoofiest, singin’est, dancin’est characters to ever call themselves a team!

Depending on whom you talk to, The Fish is either the worst basketball flick of all time or “really cool—it stars Dr. J and has the best soul soundtrack ever!” This movie’s kitsch factor is off the charts--even the above tag line was strangely amiss as there were only ten players on the team.

Julius Erving plays Moses Guthrie, a high-flying superstar for the lousy Pittsburgh Pythons. When the team walks out in disgust mid-season, the ball boy (James Bond III) convinces the owner (Jonathan Winters) to form a new squad in which all with players are born under the astrological sign of Pisces. With the guidance of astrologist Mona Mondieu (Stockard Channing) the team magically goes from worst to first. Glorious camp and bad acting abound. Check out the appearances by Meadowlark Lemon, Harry Shearer, Debbie Allen, Marv Albert, and a bevy of NBA greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Lanier, Connie Hawkins, and Norm Nixon.

The outstanding musical arrangements make this oddball opus worthwhile—in one scene Dr. J returns at night to his old playground court backdropped by the emotional groove of (Do It, Do It) No One Does It Better,” and the ultra funky “Chance of a Lifetime” punctuates the outrageous open tryouts. The Spinners’ Thom Bell painstakingly orchestrated a soul soundtrack masterpiece enlisting Leroy Bell & Casey James as well as The Four Tops, Phyllis Hyman, The Sylvers, William Hart, Frankie Bleu, Eubie Blake, Doc Severinsen and Loretta Lynn. Good luck finding a copy of the soundtrack however, which was only sparingly released on promotional vinyl.

I’ve always wondered if a teenage Michael Jordan watched this movie in high school and listened closely to the words of Moses, “I had to learn to walk on air and listen to the rhythm inside my body.” Sounds corny, but this might have been the divine inspiration for Air Jordan. Mysteriously in 1985, cheap retail VHS copies were issued cutting out two minutes of on-court trash talking and some locker room doob smoking. These scenes must be restored and the film re-released before there’s a terrible remake. Fish Fever—Catch It!

Links: The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh fan site

(Craig Curtice is a volunteer staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine.)

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