(Editor’s note: This is a quick little test post as I’m hoping to re-boot the Cinema with a Twist blog in the not-too-distant future now that we are in the off-season.)
I recently managed to catch the 1979 film Old Boyfriends directed by Joan Tewksbury and starring Talia Shire on Kanopy. For Tewksbury, who wrote Robert Altman’s critically-acclaimed Nashville in 1975, this would be her only theatrically-released feature. While the movie was uneven, it is something of a shame this would be her sole crack at a theatrical release. The script for Old Boyfriends was written by Taxi Driver’s Paul Schrader and was originally intended to be lead by a male actor. Shire was coming off a successful Academy Award-nominated performance as Adrian Pennino in Rocky and so the script was re-worked for her. This transition may account for some of the unevenness in the result.
If I’m honest, I came to it mainly to catch John Belushi’s performance, being one of the few of his feature films roles I had yet to see. It was something of a bittersweet exercise. Though limited to portraying a scaly ex who humiliated Shire in high school and was now fronting a cheesy lounge act ala Murph and the Magic Tones from Blues Brothers, we catch just enough of a glimpse of Belushi’s legit acting chops to realize what could have been. I’m also devastated that no one has yet released his cover version of ZZ Top’s Tush, having, until this viewing, never realized such a treasure existed.