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Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990)

by  |  January 12th, 2011  |  Comedy  |  4 Comments


This is one that I’ve owned every incarnation of, I saw it in the theater 3 times, owned it on VHS, I currently have it on DVD, and would most definitely get it on BluRay when the time comes. Simply put, I love this movie.

Ford Fairlane was first introduced as a weekly serial for the ‘New York Rocker’ in 1979 and again resurfaced in 1980 for the ‘LA Weekly’ with new adventures. In 1990 the characters created by Rex Weiner became a major motion picture by action director Renny Harlin (Die Hard II, also in 1990) and produced by action genre legend, Joel Silver (The Warriors, 48 Hrs, Lethal Weapon).

Stand-up comedian Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay, was recruited to play Ford Fairlane at the height of his popularity, with much success. The synergy of cast and crew soon fell into place and a cult film legacy was born. Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Detective was inspired casting indeed, and that’s what this film is about, the LA music scene in the early 1990’s.

Filmed with over the top smoke effects, Renny Harlin creates the atmospheric look of a 80’s glam rock music video, that’s complemented by Harlin’s choice of camera angles and compositions. The film opens with Bobby Black (Vince Neil of Motley Crue) dying on stage… literally! It appears as though, Just another rockstar junkie dies of a drug overdose. Meanwhile, elsewhere in LA, Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay, is closing in on Sam (David Patrick Kelley, of The Warriors), a creepy suspect that has been stalking his clients, ‘Josie and the Pussy Cats’.

Andrew 'Dice' Clay as the now legendary Ford Fairlane.

When Ford enters the nightclub, he opens his jacket revealing a holster on his belt, a holster for his Zippo lighter… then he reaches into his jacket, this time a shoulder holster, where he keeps a pack of cigs for strategic reasons. Where’s his gun? You’re about 10 seconds away from the most embarrassing moment of your life”, Ford says to Sam as he makes a break for it. As Sam is getting away, Ford casually fixes his hair, lights a smoke, then… flicks his arm sliding a gun down his sleeve and right into his hand. Without haste he shoots the wire holding the disco ball above the dance floor and drops the ball down on Sam’s head. A set of female twins quickly rush into Ford’s arms… case closed!

Like any great detective thriller, the next day, as the twins go running from Ford’s house trying to hail a taxi cab, the wealthy ice queen Colleen Sutton (Priscilla Presley) show’s up unannounced to hire Ford to “find a girl”. Since his clients are mainly high profile musician’s, Ford doesn’t get paid with money, his clients give him gifts (Koala Bears and watches) instead. But gifts just don’t pay the bills, so with a little cash in his face, and since his electricity is about to get shut off and he’s about to get kicked out of his office and lose his assistant, he takes the case.

Will Ford be able to take out the bad guys and clear his name?

The trail takes him across Los Angeles and he meets a bunch of zany characters along the way. Wayne Newton plays the corrupt music mogul, who hires an assassin (Robert Englund) to dispose of Ford and his assistant. We also, learn that Ford and DJ Johnny Crunch (Gilbert Gottfried) have a past as well. The 2 were in a failed band together back in the early eighties. Soon Johnny Crunch is killed while in the middle of a radio broadcast, that Ford is listening to in his car. Ford rushes to the station to save Johnny, but it’s to late, he’s been disposed of too… and now the police led by Lieutenant Amos (Ed O’Neil aka Al Bundy) suspect Ford.

Now Ford must go into hiding and the only place for someone like the Rock ‘n Roll Detective to take refuge is, that’s right, a sorority house that’s in the middle of having a pajama party. Ford regals the sorority sisters of ‘I-Ate-A-Pie’, by reminiscing and recanting old stories from some of his “previous cases” with Mick Gagger and Aerosmith, all the while Billy Idol rocks in the background to the tune of Rock the Cradle of Love.

Wayne Newton as the sinister Jullian Grendel who's packing a switch blade.

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane Rock ‘n’ Roll Detective is a true game of cat and mouse with conspiracies that reach the highest levels of the music industry, and it works on so many levels. Like Tupac, you’ll wonder who killed Bobby Black and Johnny Crunch and why. The film itself serves as a time capsule the perfectly preserves Los Angeles in that perfect moment in time. I moved to LA looking for the one I saw in this movie back in 1993. And yes, I did find that LA from 1993-1995, what a good fun time this city was back then. I actually had the chance to meet the director Renny Harlin a couple of months ago, but I wasn’t able to work my schedule around it. Which is regrettable because, I wanted to pitch him my idea for the sequel… The Further Adventures of Ford Fairlane…

Of course what good would a movie about a Rock ‘n’ Roll detective be without a song and dance routine by Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay?

Full “Rock the Cradle of Love” music video by Billy Idol

In 1993 Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay starred with Terri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) in Brain Smasher: A Love Story not quite as good as Ford Fairlane, but if you want a little more could be worth a look…


About

Matthew Dowling, a native Philadelphian, now residing in Los Angeles, is an actor, writer and film maker. Matt's training with 2nd City, and numerous appearances in TV shows, movies, theater, infomercials, and most importantly... B movies, has prepared him for making B Movie recommendations.

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Comments

  1. Josh James

    January 13th, 2011at 7:09 AM(#)

    Ford Fairlaine is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, I quoted it liberally a couple years ago in one of my pieces: http://writerjoshuajames.com/dailydojo/?p=579

    So much fun, this film …

    What’s interesting is contrasting Dice’s performance in this with the one in Casual Sex …

  2. DJLoo

    January 14th, 2011at 9:01 AM(#)

    I sometimes run into Dice’s old pal, “Hot Tub” Johnny West in bars in Brooklyn. As nice a person as you could ever meet. He had a very small part in the movie.

  3. Josh James

    January 15th, 2011at 3:18 PM(#)

    I saw Dice in a Manhattan Starbucks last year or so, right around when he was doing Trump’s “reality” show, I think.

    The guy is huge, I mean, he’s a big dude, stacked and it ain’t all fat, either … he’s a house.

  4. Matthew Dowling

    January 18th, 2011at 5:01 PM(#)

    Meeting ‘The Dice Man’ is on my Bucket List! He’s just such a bad ass and hilarious!

    @Josh Agreed! Guilty pleasure indeed, but still just sooo good!

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