Honky Tonk Freeway
|Honky Tonk Freeway|
UK DVD Cover
|Directed by||John Schlesinger|
|Produced by||Don Boyd
|Written by||Edward Clinton|
|Music by||Elmer Bernstein
Honky Tonk Freeway Company
|Distributed by||Associated Film Distribution (UK), Universal Pictures (USA)|
|Release dates||21 August 1981|
|Running time||108 min.|
|Box office||$2,004,742 (USA)|
Honky Tonk Freeway is a 1981 comedy film directed by John Schlesinger. The film, conceived and co-produced by Don Boyd, was one of the most expensive box office flops in history, losing its British backers Thorn-EMI an estimated $11,000,000 and profoundly impacting its fortunes and aspirations. The film was financed in part by Roy Tucker's tax avoidance schemes funded by the Rossminster banking group.
Just before the film was released, EMI sold the ancillary rights under this scheme to German investors in need of a tax loss, in an effort to try to recoup their $11,000,000 loss. When the movie's distributors learned this fact, they were no longer financially motivated to distribute the movie widely and consequently released the film for only one week.
In a small Florida tourist town named Ticlaw, the Mayor/Preacher Kirby T. Calo (William Devane) also operates a hotel and tiny wildlife safari park. The town's major draw is a water-skiing elephant named Bubbles.
When the state highway commission builds a freeway adjacent to the town, Calo slips an official $10,000 to assure an off ramp. The ramp doesn't come, so the townsfolk literally paint the town pink to attract visitors.
Meanwhile, tourists from various parts of the United States, shown in a series of concurrent, ongoing vignettes, are heading to Florida and will all end up in Ticlaw, one way or another, including a pair of bank robbers from New York (George Dzundza, Joe Grifasi) who pick up a cocaine-dealing hitchhiker (Daniel Stern); a Chicago copy machine repairman and wannabe children's author, Duane Hansen (Beau Bridges), who picks up a waitress, Carmen Odessa Shelby (Beverly D'Angelo), who is carrying her deceased mother's ashes to Florida; a dentist and his dysfunctonal family (Howard Hesseman, Teri Garr, Peter Billingsley), vacationing cross-country in their RV; an elderly woman, Carol (Jessica Tandy), with a drinking problem and her loving husband Sherm (Hume Cronyn), who are heading to Florida to retire; two nuns (mother superior Geraldine Page, novice nun Deborah Rush); and a wannabe country songwriter hauling a playful rhino and other wild animals to Ticlaw, and more.
- David Rasche as Eddie White
- Paul Jabara as T.J. Tupus
- Howard Hesseman as Snapper
- Teri Garr as Ericka
- Jenn Thompson as Delia
- Peter Billingsley as Little Billy
- Beau Bridges as Duane Hansen
- Beverly D'Angelo as Carmen Odessa Shelby
- Daniel Stern as Hitchhiker
- Sandra McCabe as Prostitute
- Celia Weston as Grace
- Deborah Rush as Sister Mary Magdalene
- Geraldine Page as Sister Mary Clarise
- George Dzundza as Eugene
- Joe Grifasi as Osvaldo
- Hume Cronyn as Sherm
- Jessica Tandy as Carol
- Frances Lee McCain as Claire Calo (as Francis Lee McCain)
- Renny Roker as Sheriff
- William Devane as Mayor Kirby T. Calo
- Ron Frazier as Kirk
- Jerry Hardin as Governor
- John Ashton as Otto Kemper
- John C. Becher as Brandon C. Dasher
- Alice Beardsley as Betty Boo Radley
- Davis Roberts as James
- Loretta Tupper as Miss Barbutti
- Frances Bay as Mrs. Lewenowski
- Rollin Moriyama as Mr. Naguki
- Kimiko Hiroshige as Mrs. Naguki
- James Staley as Governor's Assistant
- Shelly Batt as Charlotte (as Shelley Batt)
- Jason D. Keller as Denny Hansen (as Jason Keller)
- Shane Keller as Jim Hansen
- Kelly Lange as Herself
- Kent Williams as Kelly's Guest
- Arnold Johnson as Bank Bum
- Nancy Parsons as Alice the Teller
- Jessica Rains as Mary the Teller
- Ann Risley as Actress in Bank
- Helen Hanft as Bag Lady
- Don Morgan as Jeep Guy
- Paul Keenan as Jeep Guy
- Robert Stoneman as Jeep Guy
- Randy Norton as Jeep Guy
- Al Corley as Car Thief
- Murphy Dunne as Car Thief
- Leo Burmester as Mortuary Director
- Jeffrey Combs as Drive-In Teller
- Jack Murdock as Rhino Wrangler
- Ann Coleman as Computer Hotel Clerk
- Gordon Haight as Kevin
- Jack Thibeau as Conventioneer
- Martha Gehman as Hitchhiker
- George Solomon as Turkey House Waitress
- Dick Christie as Auto Mechanic
- Anita Dangler as Saleslady
- Mags Kavanaugh as Salesgirl
- Gloria LeRoy as Fish Restaurant Waitress
This movie was filmed in the small central Florida town of Mount Dora. The off ramp filming location took place at the I-75 and Palmer Road overpass in Sarasota, Florida. Most of the highway scenes take place on I-75 between Sarasota and Ft Myers while the highway was still under construction. Dynamite crews blew up the south bound lane overpass at I-75 and Palmer Road before the Tampa to Miami leg of the highway was completed in 1981. Many portions of Fruitville were painted pink to match the sets in Mount Dora and remained pink for decades afterward. Palmer Road was never designated for an I-75 exit because it is not a main thoroughfare. The exit for Fruitville is on Fruitville Road about 2 miles north of the filming location.
The overriding question about EMI's Honky Tonk Freeway is why anyone should want to spend over $25m. on a film as devoid of any basic humorous appeal ... [Its] long-term commercial appeal appears to be almost nil.
Since its release on DVD it has attained something of a cult following.
The film was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song for the song You're Crazy, But I Like You.
- Walker, Alexander (September 2005) . National Heroes: British Cinema in the 70's and 80's. Orion. ISBN 0-7528-5707-X.
- "Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Film Flops". Filmsite.org. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
- Tutt, Nigel (1985). Tax Raiders: The Rossminster Affair. London: Financial Training Publications. ISBN 0-906322-76-6.
- "Variety". 19 August 1981.
- Maslin, Janet (21 August 1981). "HARSH VIEW OF AMERICA IN 'HONKY TONK FREEWAY'". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- Henninger, Mari. "Honky Tonk Freeway: When Mount Dora "Went Hollywood". PULSE The Magazine of Mount Dora, Eustis and Tavares. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- Honky Tonk Freeway at the Internet Movie Database
- Honky Tonk Freeway at Rotten Tomatoes
- Honky Tonk Freeway at Box Office Mojo