Cast & Crew
Handsome, up and coming Los Angeles-based tennis pro Franklin Cane is considered the "golden boy" by the press and fans. Disaffected from his own father, who disdainfully called tennis "hittin' the ball," Franklin looks upon his coach, former tennis great Jonathan "J. C." Carruthers, as a father. J. C., an elegant gentleman from the old school, returns Franklin's feelings, and advises him to concentrate on tennis rather than the trappings of success that the game will bring him. One night, at a party attended by many of Hollywood's rich and famous, Franklin meets still photographer Cynthia Vicstrom. The two are immediately attracted to each other and quickly begin an affair, although Cynthia is more serious about the relationship that Franklin. One day, while flying to Houston for a tournament, J. C., who played tennis during the years when professionals made little money, tells Franklin that he has gotten an offer for him to appear in a hairspray commercial. Although tempted to take the offer, Franklin decides against it, saying that he wants to stay away from show business and concentrate on tennis. After being down one game in the match against "Butch" Bucholtz, Franklin takes J. C.'s advice always to make his opponent play his game and wins the tournament. Later, he attends a celebration with some local businessmen and has a one-night stand with a Texas girl. On his return home, when Cynthia meets him at the airport, Franklin acts as if nothing has happened. Cynthia and J. C. are initially wary of each other, but after having lunch together and realizing that they both want what is best for Franklin, they become friends. A short time later, Franklin is waiting for a practice session with J. C. and becomes concerned when his always punctual mentor does not show up. After making repeated unanswered calls to J. C., Franklin soon learns that J. C. had died peacefully in his sleep. Although he is shattered by J. C.'s death, Franklin has difficulty showing his grief and becomes even more emotionally withdrawn from Cynthia, who presses him to express himself while the couple is on a trip to Morro Bay following J. C.'s funeral. Soon, without J. C.'s guidance, Franklin becomes caught up in his own success and self-importance, makes a film and the hairspray commercial, and begins spending most of his time attending Hollywood parties, drinking and having casual affairs. Meanwhile, Cynthia, who wants to marry and begin a family, is hurt by Franklin's behavior, and begins seeing Monroe Smith, a serious-minded director with whom she has worked and who has long been in love with her. One night, at a wild party held at a mansion, Franklin wakes up after passing out and decides to go for a drive in the host's classic Mercedes Gullwing. Taking one of the girls from the party with him, Franklin speeds along Pacific Coast Highway, then turns off into one of the canyons, all the while leaving the Gullwing doors precariously open. As he enters a tunnel, the car crashes into an oncoming vehicle, killing Franklin and the girl. After Franklin's death is reported, a shaken Cynthia watches television as his hairspray commercial comes onto the screen.
Louis De Farra
Theodore J. Flicker
James B. Harris
Eris Sandy Tillare
Bill Van Meter
Francis X. Feighan
Michael S. Laughlin
Christopher N. Seiter
Both Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams had small parts in this film five years before "Laverne & Shirley" (1976), but both ended up on the cutting room floor.
The film opens with shots of a classic Gullwing Mercedes Benz sports car, with its doors open, driving very fast along a highway. The sequence stops after the car is seen driving into a tunnel and crashing noises are heard on the soundtrack. The action then flashes back to a tennis match in which the main character, "Franklin Cane" (Beau Bridges), is defeating his opponent. The Gullwing sequence is repeated and expanded near the end of the film, after which it is confirmed that the driver of the car, Franklin, has been killed; the actual crash and its aftermath are never shown. The opening credits do not appear until several minutes into the film, during the first party sequence. They appear as credits on a film that is being shown at the party, projected in the homeowners' private screening room, as if they were for a new film that is being watched by the guests. While the credits roll, people are talking and settling into their seats.
The title The Christian Licorice Store was taken from the lyrics of the 1967 Tim Buckley song "Pleasant Street," which was performed by Buckley on the film's soundtrack. The picture was shot on location in Southern California, primarily in the Westside section of the city. Locations include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sunset Plaza, Los Angeles International Airport, Pink's hot dog stand and the Los Angeles produce market. The sequence in which Franklin and "Cynthia Vicstrom" (Maud Adams) go away for the weekend was shot at Morro Bay, CA, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, and the sequence leading up to the crash was shot at Soledad Canyon in the Antelope Valley, CA, according to a Daily Variety news item. Although that Daily Variety news item indicated that additional shooting would take place in Phoenix and Houston, only Houston, the site of the Texas tennis tournament, appeared in the completed film.
The sequence featuring famed director and one-time actor Jean Renoir and his wife Dido was shot in their home in Beverly Hills. The appearance was Renoir's last film work before his death in 1979, and his first onscreen film appearance since 1939, when he had a small role in La Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game), which he also directed. Tennis pro "Butch" Bucholtz appeared as himself in the Houston tennis tournament sequence.
According to an item in Hollywood Reporter on September 10, 1969, producer Michael S. Laughlin had initially considered Ricky Nelson for the starring role in the picture. A Los Angeles Times article, primarily describing the shooting of Anne Randall's brief nude scene in the story, stated that former Playboy model Barbi Benton was to "co-star" in the film but withdrew because she would not have star billing. The various party sequences, especially the last, include brief shots of well-known Hollywood actors, producers, agents and writers, among them producer Mike Medavoy, Los Angeles Times movie columnist Joyce Haber and writer-comedian George Kirgo.
Just before the death of "Jonathan J.C. Carruthers" (Gilbert Roland), a black-and-white tennis dream sequence is shown. Late in the film, when Franklin is watching television, he muses over various real-life sports events being shown, including Lou Gehrig's famous farewell speech in Yankee Stadium. As noted in reviews, many of the scenes are presented with either non-existent or sparse dialogue.
Although a October 23, 1969 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that The Christian Licorice Store would be the initial production of John Doe Productions, Inc., a company being formed by screenwriter-producer Floyd Mutrux, all other sources, both before and after that date, list Cinema Center Films as the production company. The picture marked the first feature film to be directed by James Frawley, who had worked on the stage and in short films, as well as directing episodes of the popular 1960s television series The Monkees. The picture also marked the first feature of former television producer Laughlin, although another film he produced, Two-Lane Blacktop (see below), was released a few months earlier in 1971. That film was directed by Monte Hellman, who, along with his wife Jaclyn, had a small role in The Christian Licorice Store, his first onscreen appearance. Swedish-born actress and former model Maud Adams made her feature film debut in The Christian Licorice Store.
According to news items, the picture was to be the last released production of Cinema Center Films, the filmmaking arm of the Columbia Broadcasting Systems, Inc. (CBS), but a small number of Cinema Center Films still in production in late 1971 were released in 1972. According to Filmfacts, in 1971 the picture had some press screenings but no theatrical distribution in Manhattan, and a few exhibitions in other parts of the country in 1972. A review of the film did not appear in New York Times until April 5, 1974, at which time, according to the review, it was playing from 5-6 April at the First Avenue Screening Room. Although a Hollywood Reporter article on March 8, 1976 stated that Avco Embassy Pictures had acquired the North American distribution rights to The Christian Licorice Store and twenty-eight other Cinema Center films, and would be re-releasing them, no re-release date for The Christian Licorice Store has been determined.
Released in United States 1971
Released in United States 1971