Color, 1978, 92 mins. 47 secs.
Directed by Dennis Steinmetz
Starring Ed Begley Jr., Michael Callan, Jack Carter, Frank Gorshin, Ruth Buzzi, Dennis Bowen, Rick Dees, Alice Ghostley, Ted Lange, Harold Sakata, Wendy Schaal, Larry Storch, Tim Thomerson, Deborah White, Maria Grimm, Stuart Goetz, Sorrell Booke
Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray) (US RA HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

The Record Citygenerally easy-breezy tone of the late '70s resulted Record Cityin some very loose entertainment options with ensemble casts basically hanging out, having a good time, and listening to some sweet tunes with a little bit of conflict sometimes tossed in to provide a semblance of a plot. On TV you had shows like WKRP in Cincinnati, while the big screen had goofy little numbers like FM and Car Wash among others. About as representative of the era as you can get is Record City, a colorful snapshot of record store culture in Los Angeles circa 1977 with a sunny soundtrack and a lot of B-listers (or lower) turning up for glorified cameos. The whole formula still works in a sweet time capsule sort of way, even if this approach was doomed to fail by 1980 when films like Can't Stop the Music brought it all crashing down.

Nice guy record store clerk Danny (Bowen) is taken with the pretty new cashier, Lorraine (Schaal), but she's being constantly badgered by the piggy owner, Eddie (an unrecognizable Callan), who's intent on getting her back in his office and would probably be in jail these days. Swirling around them are a strange cast of co-workers, customers, and lurkers, like surfer employee Marty (Trancers' Thomerson) who keeps getting kneed in the cojones by a militant women's libber coworker, smooth talker The Wiz (The Love Boat's Lange) wants to help nerdy Hooper (Goetz) score with sassy Rita (Grimm), and a thief named The Record CityChameleon (Gorshin) keeps slipping on different disguises to case out the store for an impending robbery while sticky-fingered country Record Cityboy Pokey (Begley Jr.) hatches his own low-scale heist. The strand of a real plot involves the impending "Radio & TV Talent Contest" being thrown by hot-shot DJ Gordon Kong (novelty performer and real-life disc jockey Dees of "Disco Duck" fame), who puts on a hammy gorilla persona, of course, with the staff taking part along with high-voltage celebrities like Kinky Friedman and Gallagher.

Mostly an excuse to give the cast a few minutes each to goof around, this has a very '70s sitcom feel for the most part when the musical numbers aren't hitting; that means you also get the expected barrage of off-color jokes involving feminism, blacks, Latinos, homosexuality, disabilities, borderline sexual assault, and just about everything else that would at least raise an eyebrow today. Of course, that also means you get to hear Alice Ghostley say "Don't look at them, Harold, they're sissies," which is one for the record books. You also get a silly car / skater chase scene, Ruth Buzzi as a glam-obsessed cleaning woman, dubious fashion choices, Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg himself) as a cop inspecting a men's toilet stall, glittered afros galore, Goldfinger's Harold Sakata in his Oddjob outfit busting up a desk, and best of all, wall-to-wall promotional posters and album covers that will have any vinylphile salivating. On the other hand you have to put up with a lot of Dees' mugging, but that's worth it for the hilarious cutaway to Thomerson briefly Record Citymouthing "What the hell?" to his antics. Yes, the whole thing is totally frivolous and unapologetically stupid, but you knew that Record Citygoing in the door.

Picked up by AIP for theatrical release, Record City was shot on SD video and represents one of the earliest attempts to shoot in that format and transfer it to 35mm prints for distribution. (See also everything from 200 Motels to Boardinghouse to Julia and Julia). That means its home video debut as a Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing (available from Ronin Flix) comes with some obvious limitations; as an opening disclaimer notes, this is "presented to you from the best materials available to us, as it was composed from the best elements from several different sources. We apologize, in advance, for any inconvenience." As expected, it pretty much looks like your average '70s shot-on-video production with the expected in-camera smearing and mushy detail, but this is about as good as it can possibly get. (Even the opening credits are video generated.) The DTS-HD MA English mono track sounds perfectly fine for what it is, and optional English SDH subtitles are provided. A lo-res trailer is included along with bonus ones for California Dreaming, Act of Vengeance, 3:15, Bucktown, Angel Unchained, and Hell Camp.

Reviewed on March 18, 2020