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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

C.B. Hustlers (1976)

You guys ready for another batch of Automotive mayhem? These are the movies set in and around the car culture and/or highway life. It is a uniquely American thing and was very important for the drive-in movie market from the fifties thru the sixties. This one, for better or worse, is a prime example.

Let me start with a plot synopsis, though for a movie like this it doesn’t much matter. There is a guy who goes by the C.B. Handle of Dancer. He drives around in a sweet custom van (Hot Box 1) talking to truckers on the radio. Why? Well because he has another van (Hot Box 2) with working girls in it, the titular C.B. Hustlers, and acts as their pimp. We find this out pretty fast as he directs them to a truck stop and they get right to work.

There is also a local sheriff who wants to clean up his county and get rid of all the undesirables. This includes a bunch of van enthusiasts who are having a festival/rally in an open field. I suppose there is some conflict because the girls ignore their normal eighteen wheeler customers for the four wheeler customers, but nothing much comes out of it. The local paper, basically a couple guys who serve as comedic relief, are also trying to do an expose like them “Watergate fellas”. Stuff happens and then the movie is over.

C.B. Hustlers is a prime example of someone making product for the drive-in circuit rather than a movie. There isn’t much story here, so it is easy to imagine this as the second or third feature on the bill when the audience was well into the other pursuits. There is a reason that they were called passion pits you know. There is some eye candy for those occasionally looking up at the screen in both the cool vans and the ladies getting naked. There are a lot of examples, and they are spaced evenly throughout the duration. And if you insist on watching the movie, as I did for this review, there are also some attempts at humor. Though they don’t really work well.

My biggest issue with the movie is a complete lack of plot. They have at best an outline of what they want, but many of the scenes are clearly improvised. We also get wide shots from way back with characters walking up and “talking” to each other. Far enough away that you can’t see their mouths move which allows the filmmakers to dub whatever dialogue or exposition they need in to push the story along. After about half an hour C.B. Hustlers runs out of steam and becomes tedious. This is the case even though I watched the VHS cut which removes ten minutes of the movie! From what I can tell it isn’t anything good they were just trying to speed it up.

Fans might be interested in the fact that the movie was directed by Stu Segall who was responsible for the much better Drive-in Massacre. It also stars… well one of the girls is played by Uschi Digard. If you don’t recognize that name, she was an actress who brought her ample “assets” to many a Russ Meyer flick.

Unless you are a diehard drive-in aficionado like myself, I can’t imagine you would have any desire to spend your time watching C.B. Hustlers. It had a decent formula and folks behind and in front of the camera who knew what they were doing. Sadly, the utter lack of plot dooms this to the pile of painfully mediocre schlock.

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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