Handle With Care

The film's original title, Citizen's Band, evokes its origins as an exploitation film designed to cash in on the short-lived CB craze, but, as Jonathan Demme (Melvin and Howard) directed and Paul Brickman (Risky Business) wrote it, the picture was too good for its own good: audiences weren't expecting humor of this degree of piquancy and charm, and it was a failure. The action takes place in a tiny southwestern town, where the residents—among them Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, Roberts Blossom, and Marcia Rodd—use their adopted radio personas as a means of escape from the dingy identities life has imposed on them. Demme is satirical but never cruel, and sweet but never syrupy: this film marked the emergence of one of the most appealing directorial personalities of the New Hollywood. With Charles Napier, Alix Elias, Bruce McGill, and Richard Bright (1977).

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