The late-1970s roller-disco fad gave birth to a handful of painful films such as ROLLER BOOGIE and SKATETOWN U.S.A., but one of the more justifiably obscure efforts in that (thankfully) short-lived sub-genre was this insipid comic-romance with an intriguingly eclectic cast. Directed by Oliver Hellman [a.k.a. Ovidio G. Assonitis], best known for his EXORCIST knock-off BEYOND THE DOOR and giant mutant octopus opus TENTACLES, this Italian production was shot in the US but never played American theaters, and manages to be both excruciatingly unfunny yet fascinatingly misguided...Short, nerdy, bespectacled Andy Steigler (28-year-old Steve Tracy) is a frustrated teenager who never takes off his roller skates, even while working a 9-to-5 warehouse job for his blue-collar dad (Dan Leegant, from Rob Nilsson's SIGNAL SEVEN). Tired of his nonexistent love life, Andy hitchhikes from Oregon to San Francisco, then ineptly hits on the first cute skater-chick that he sees, only to have Olivia (Dana Handler) pinch his wallet instead. Steigler gets a job at a popular roller rink (which only plays cheaply-licensed music, like Ranee Lee's 1979 "Disco Man"), assistant manager Red (Eddie Deezen) shows Andy around town, and he rents a room from quirky landlady Dottie Butz (Isabel Sanford). Our naive creep also continues to pursue Olivia, who works at a nearby poodle grooming shop, even after Olivia's jealous ex (Michael Phenicie) and his rollerskating crew rough him up. Best of all, Christopher Lee turns up as Dr. Carl Boxer, a crackpot therapist with a sadistic streak and dwarf assistant. Recommended to Andy by a kinky radio deejay (Paul Benedict), Boxer attempts to save "almost hopeless" Steigler by convincing him to ditch his skates in favor of an oversized leather biker jacket, shoes with five-inch heels and annoyingly cocky attitude... The script by husband-wife team Alan Berger and Kathy Gori embraces every lame cliché, such as how Andy can only win the girl of his dreams by wearing her down through stalker-like persistence. Tracy (who, that same year, played Nellie Oleson's future husband on LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE) often seems to be doing a poverty-row Woody Allen impression, since the guy could easily pass for the ANNIE HALL Oscar-winner's less-erudite, more-irritating fifth-cousin. At least Deezen is uniquely grating, and definitely deserved more screen time here. In her first (and last) film gig, Handler makes a particularly bland object of desire. Meanwhile, Lee only has a handful of scenes but outshines everyone with Boxer's hilariously condescending attitude towards his hapless patients. Cinematographer Roberto D'Ettorre Piazzoli (SONNY BOY, LAMBADA) captures great footage of San Francisco -- from Fisherman's Wharf to Andy skating down its famed, winding Lombard Street -- while Steve Power [a.k.a. prolific Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani] provides the listless soundtrack, with pop tune vocals by Dwayne Ford.
© 2023 by Steven Puchalski.