In retrospect, the 1970’s were a more glamorous time than they might have seemed. But movies like Roller Boogie play a part in that.
In the late 1970’s roller skating also conquered the cinemas. Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John), Skatetown U.S.A. (Patrick Swayze in his first role), and foremost the movie Roller Boogie shaped the view of this era and the relevance of roller skating. Although these movies earned negative critical reviews and Xanadu was even an inspiration for the creation of the Golden Raspberry Award, to recognize the worst films of the year, the sugarcoated depictions of the roller disco era gained attraction over time.
Roller Boogie is musical film starring Linda Blair in her first role after her appearance in the Exorcist movies, and introducing Jim Bray, a former competitive artistic skater from California, was released in 1979. Low budget director Mark L. Lester takes a simple script and throws in enough distractions to make a cult film of the disco era – not only for roller skaters.
The main characters, Bobby James and Terry Barkley, fall in love while roller skating to disco music. Along the way they must thwart a powerful mobster who wants the land their favorite roller rink sits on and compete in the Boogie Contest. The Roller Boogie Contest was scheduled for 28th of August. So today it is “Roller Boogie Day”.
Linda Blair, turning in a decent performance, is a pouting rich girl who would rather hang around the beach than her parent’s stuffy mansion, which includes a jerk with a crush: the guy her parents approve of. But she falls in love with the poor dreamer Bray, who teaches her how to skate and dance.
Some keywords: Venice Beach, Linda Blair, Excalibur car, coming-of-age, roller skating. Ingredients for a legend, because it’s all about the good times of the glossy late seventies era. Although the happy end is missing. The two lovers say goodbye as Terry finally leaves town. She offers Bobby the trophy but he says his place is too small. He offers it to her, and she says there’s no space in the suitcase. Nobody wants to be reminded of the impossibility of their relationship.
Actually the movie transports the cheesy white small-town kids’ dream of roller skating, and only the reminiscence of the 1970s makes it bearable.