RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP
(director: Arthur Dreifuss; screenwriter: Orville H. Hampton; cinematographer: Paul Vogel; editor: Ben Lewis; cast: Aldo Ray (Lt. Walt Lorimer), Mimsy Farmer (Andy), Michael Evans (Sgt. Frank Tweedy), Laurie Mock (Liz-Ann), Tim Rooney (Grady), Hortense Petra (Marge); Runtime: 85; American International; 1967)
“This movie is a riot for those who enjoy bad films.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This movie is a riot for those who enjoy bad films. It’s an exploitation teen movie with no redeeming social values. It fails to deliver any messages, to raise social consciousness, or be artistic. It’s just a badly scripted and acted film, which might provide a few chuckles for the discrete viewer who likes looking through trash for hidden treasures. The story is taken from the real-life riots that plagued Sunset Strip during the mid-60s.
The film starts with a rock band pleading the case of the beautiful life on the Strip for the hippies and rebellious teens that congregate there. They wear outlandish clothes, display longhair, and openly smoke pot. A voiceover suggests there’s a youth problem going on all over the world. So the action then turns to an average Hollywood high school and a timid but pretty blonde, Andy (Mimsy Farmer), is coaxed into going on a double-date to the Strip with her loose girlfriend Liz-Ann (Mock). The kids get picked up by the police for violating the curfew and their parents are called to take them home. Andy lives with her divorced mom, who is a juicer and offers her no support. So she calls the wife of a policeman, someone she hasn’t seen in four years, to get her released.
Sergeant Frank Tweedy’s wife tells him that the girl in the police station was the daughter of Lt. Walt Lorimer (Aldo Ray), his boss. He is in charge of the Sunset Strip territory and is known as a cop who is against police brutality and a friend of the teens, as he tries to be fair to both sides. The establishment businesses claim the kids are turning the area into a zoo, where decent people are afraid to shop. To show how tolerant Walt is, he talks to the club owners and the hippie leaders and tries to get them to keep the peace while listening to their suggestions. While he tells the businessmen that he’ll not run the kids away, but will enforce the underage drinking laws and try to keep the place peaceful according to the law.
There’s a rumble in the Pandora’s Box club, and Walt keeps his word by having the police act with restraint.
But Tweedy still doesn’t reach out to his lonely daughter and try to talk to her, and she can’t stand being home with her lush mother. Against her better judgment, she goes to the Pandora’s Box and her group hooks up with a sleazy rich kid from a dysfunctional family. He provides the acid and arranges a wild freak-out party that takes place in a home they break into. Andy never took acid before and refuses to join the others, but it’s slipped into her soft drink. Andy then changes moods and does an acid influenced dance, and then five guys take her upstairs to the bedroom and rape her. When the break-in is spotted by a passing patrol car, Walt and Frank are on hand before the cops bust the kids as they want to make sure there’s no police brutality. But when he finds out that his daughter was raped, Walt takes his anger and sense of guilt out on three of the rapist kids. He beats them up, which causes the riot on Sunset Strip.
The film ends sugarcoated with false piety and some idiotic questions are asked about the kids; such as, Where will the kids go? What will they do? The only question I had, was why make a film like this? This film was as real as a snowball in hell.
REVIEWED ON 9/15/2001 GRADE: D