Combustible Celluloid
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With: William Smith, John Saxon, Claudia Jennings, Cedric Smith, Judy Foster, Don Francks
Written by: David Cronenberg, Phil Savath, Courtney Smith, Alan Treen
Directed by: David Cronenberg
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 93
Date: 03/18/1979

Fast Company (1978)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Drive My Car

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After two horror films, Shivers and Rabid, David Cronenberg tookon this simple auto racing movie. It may look like an anomaly in hisotherwise flawless filmography, but it makes sense: it's all about menstrapping themselves into -- and entrusting their lives to -- machines.It might even make a good double-bill with Cronenberg's later Crash(1996). Racing champ William Smith is sponsored by a sleazy corporationthat sells engine cleaner. The corporation -- headed by evil John Saxon -- forcesSmith to do their bidding. When he accidentally blows up his car, hemust instead race "funny cars." Eventually the good guys must stand upand battle the bad guys. Former Playboy Playmate and 1970s "B" moviequeen Claudia Jennings co-stars as Smith's sexy girlfriend.Unfortunately, this was her last role at age 29; she died soon after,ironically, in a car crash. A confessed racing nut, Cronenberg shootsFast Company with his trademark clinical eye, milking the theme forall it's worth, but also paying careful attention to character andperformance. It's actually a solid little "B" movie that crosses thefinish line.

Blue Underground has released Fast Company in a spectacular new disc with digitally remastered picture and sound. The disc comes with five audio options: the original mono track, a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround mix, a 6.1 DTS mix, a 2.0 Dolby Surround mix and a new David Cronenberg commentary track. The roaring engines sound great on a good sound system.

The disc also includes two featurettes on the acting and cinematography, plus a trailer, poster and stills gallery and a Claudia Jennings bio.

Fast Company comes in either a single-disc edition or a limitededition 2-disc set which also includes Cronenberg's early feature filmsStereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970). To save money,Cronenberg shot both films without sound. The black-and-white Stereocontains no ambient noise, no music and no sound whatsoever, except foran occasional narrator, reading monotone medical notes. However, itlooks amazing and has an early Cronenberg feel -- he uses steel andconcrete backgrounds and seeks out slashing diagonals whenever possible.The full color Crimes of the Future contains a more constantsoundtrack, but it's mostly disconnected noise that eventually grinds onyour nerves. However, it too has some fascinating ideas and visualtechniques. Either way, both films rank as interesting tidbits inCronenberg's career.

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