Written by / 9/06/2019 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SUE LYON AND ROBERT CONRAD IN 'SMASH-UP ON INTERSTATE 5'

Sue Lyon has a king of beer on Interstate 5 in 1978
The TV Movie SMASH-UP ON INTERSTATE 5 is groundbreaking for one reason: it beat SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER to the double boogie perspective by one full year; the camera spinning around while two people dance. To disco, no less: Enter PSYCHO co-star Vera Miles as Erica, newly divorced and reluctantly part of the singles nightlife, being romanced by creepy Herb Edelman and she wants none of it.

Other stories evolve from and head towards that inevitable crash on the mountainous region of (Southern) California's Interstate 5: Starting out with the catastrophe's onset as the rest of the movie, dictated by typed title cards beginning 24 hours earlier, follow various plotlines – many, like the one just mentioned involving Miles and an eventual romance with a younger man, David Groh, are of the soap operatic nature...

Robert Conrad and Scott Jacoby on Interstate 5
Yet the most intriguing has to do with crime, and murder: After a botched robbery, a teenager, shot and severely wounded, and his neurotic girlfriend hijack a kid named Lee, played by BAD RONALD star Scott Jacoby, at gunpoint, making him their getaway driver – after which a rookie cop, played by Tommy Lee Jones... whose wife is giving birth at the local hospital... is shot, and not so lucky. Jacoby’s story has the urgency you’d get in a slightly heightened episode of CHiPS: Hence, the California Highway Patrol is the central force here...

First-billed (for being famous) star Robert Conrad’s Sergeant Sam Marcum has the potential to be a resilient hero throughout, but his input is limited to an argumentative relationship with a nurse, his young girlfriend played by Donna Mills... whose acting-style, like in Clint Eastwood’s PLAY MISTY FOR ME or Paul Newman's ex-wife in SLAPSHOT, was robotic until KNOTS LANDING gave her a role with edge. And speaking of edge: Sue Lyon, known as LOLITA from the Stanley Kubrick 1962 classic, is a hardened biker chick whose gang, at one point, intersects with the troubled Vera Miles...

Robert Conrad and Tommy Lee Jones on Interstate 5
This before Miles, who is pretty much the main character, meets the man of her dreams, Groh’s Dale, a little too good to be true: A former heart surgeon turned existential truck driver, he wants the older lady to traipse the country on a mobile honeymoon…

You see, Dale first meets Erica after Sue Lyon’s troublesome Burnsey tries instigating a rape for her gross biker buddy. Then, like in a Wester and right on time, a truck crashes to her defense, with Groh at the helm!

The biggest throwaway story, the one that should have been deleted entirely with a much too melodramatic and predictable conclusion, taking an abundance of screen time, has Buddy Ebsen and Harriet Hilliard discussing their future. Problem is: her future, with chest pains and a failed suicide attempt swimming out from their Malibu home, is limited, making us yearn more of the biker gang or Jacoby’s kidnapping... the latter reversing when he gets in charge of the situation, the girl on his side now...

Sue Lyon in Smash-Up on Interstate 5 Rates: ***1/2
This new Bonnie and Clyde, dreaming of an early retirement in Big Sur, wind up kidnapping a sexed-up couple (including one of our favorite ingenues Cindy Daly, a gorgeous high school student from the horror classic, CARRIE) after stealing their ride – one of those vans you only see in the glorious 1970’s...

All leading to the inevitable, previously established vehicle crunch, bringing white knight Robert Conrad back into the fray; but not for very long.

It's a nicely filmed bombastic crash that only provides a mere 11th hour taste of the Disaster genre premise, misled by the title... This SMASH-UP spends 98% of the time dealing with melodrama.. That is, like any ensemble, hit or miss... smash or veer... you nam...

Although, even during the most boring and banal, time-filling moments, SMASH-UP ON INTERSTATE 5 partially succeeds like any Movie-of-the-Week, created to entertain household audiences while eventually getting them relaxed enough for sleep. Remember folks, especially the youngsters out there: before video stores and cable television, these were the reigning source of non-theatrical entertainment.
Title Credit for Smash-Up on Interstate 5
Title Credit for Smash-Up on Interstate 5 for Sue Lyon
Vera Miles and Sue Lyon in Smash-Up on Interstate 5
Joel Parks with Sue Lyon and Tommy Lee Jones in Smash-Up on Interstate 5
Joel Parks with Sue Lyon and Tommy Lee Jones in Smash-Up on Interstate 5
Joel Parks with Sue Lyon in Smash-Up on Interstate 5
Bad Ronald actor Scott Jacoby in Smash-Up on Interstate 5
Some 70's goon and hottie Cindy Daly in Smash-Up on Interstate 5
Robert Conrad and Cindy Daly (digging him obviously) in Smash-Up on Interstate 5

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