Another Break from Musashi–Dirk Benedict as M. Harry Smilac in “Body Slam” (1986). Lurking if you are out there this one is for you.

24 May

Lurking if you are out there this one is for you–I had to dig deep into my bag of tricks to pull out this one.

M. Harry Smilac (Dirk Benedict), once a successful music promoter, is losing talent and having a hard time booking gigs for his sole client, the rock band “Kicks.” Behind on his Ferrari payments  and owing $67,000.00 to a Korean savings and loan that, despite losing in court, is insistent on recovering, he reluctantly accepts a job finding musical acts for a fundraiser of an unlikeable politician.  While waiting to meet the manager of the venue Smilac stumbles across negotiations involving Roddy Piper as “Quick Rick Roberts” and thinking that they are discussing a musical act instead of a pro-wrestling jumps in on behalf Piper and cuts him a great deal.  Word quickly spreads throughout the wrestling business that Smilac is the manager to have.  Smilac’s success takes business away from existing managers Captain Lou Albano (playing Captain Lou Murano) and midget Billy Bartley who naturally become upset and try to muscle Smilac out of the business.

A day after the disastrous fundraiser featuring Smilac’s rock band, Murano and his tag team champions “The Cannibals” (Sione Vailahi and Tom Cassett) injure Smilac and his wrestlers in a nationally televised bout, before blacklisting them from every major venue in the country.  Smilac adapts though and takes his wrestlers and his band on a cross country road tour of small arenas.  Initially he promotes separate wrestling and rock shows, but a scheduling mix-up at a venue causes him to promote a single event featuring both his musicians and wresters.  The show is a hit and Smilac schedules an entire tour using the same “Rock n’ Wrestling” format.  Their tour is a huge success and inspires Harry, Roberts and Tonga to win a hard fought rematch against Murano’s Cannibals.

Naturally Smilac finds a love interest in Candace Vandervagen (Tanya Roberts), the daughter of the politician’s wealthy campaign booster.  Who (of course) is initially resistant to any relationship until the Korean’s try to collect their “small consumer loan” as Smilac characterizes it and destroy her mother’s Rolls Royce in the process.  Everyone in the film does fine job except for the lifeless Roberts.  Though she is the love interest, there’s no spark or energy coming from her at all—just boredom.  Actors shouldn’t take it out on the audience when they don’t really want to be in a movie they’re already in ironically they need to take it out on their managers.

In an interview with Canadian Online Explorer, Dirk Benedict recounts positive experiences working on the film. However, both he and director Hal Needham (Director of Smokey and the Bandit & Cannonball Run) clashed with the two lawyers credited with writing and producing the film over changes to the script and Needham’s creative choices.  At one point, Benedict had a physical altercation with one of the writer/producers.  These conflicts lead to lawsuits being filed, which caused the film to miss the entire summer movie season.  Later, the film was slated to be released by Hemdale Film Corporation in November 1986.  However, the film never saw wide theatrical release and was instead released directly to VHS.  Too bad I wonder how it would have done at the box office.

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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Movie Reviews


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