Applause erupted in the old art-deco Del Mar Theater in downtown Santa Cruz late Friday night (actually early Saturday morning), as the final credits began to roll for Gentlemen Broncos, a movie that only a few lucky folks have had the opportunity to view.
More than half of the audience members in the Del Mar weren't even aware that there would be a final scene after the credits had run, but they stayed anyway, and again, expressed their approval with more applause as the house lights were turned on, and the movie was officially over. A midnight movie is tough for an old-phart like me to endure, but I decided to attend the following night too, because who knows when I'll get the opportunity to see Gentlemen Broncos again? The Saturday night crowd was equally as enthusiastic about the movie.
When I saw this movie for the first time last Thanksgiving, I assumed that it would become as commonplace as Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, but that didn't happen. Gentlemen Broncos should have been a mainstream hit, but bad reviews and poor earnings in the first days of its release, caused Searchlight Pictures to panic, and they hastily reacted by canceling national distribution of the film that I and so many had been looking forward to seeing again or for the first time. Those coming soon posters and trailers suddenly became sad and empty promises, and it seems that now only a handful of people will see Gentlemen Broncos in a theater.
The reaction of the Santa Cruz crowd last weekend gives me hope that Gentlemen Broncos will catch on as an underground midnight movie sensation. Everyone I spoke with after the show liked Gentlemen Broncos very much. Everyone seemed surprised at its obscurity, and lack of attention. Gentlemen Broncos has all the makings of a cult-classic - great acting, intentionally awkward, ridiculous, & quirky scenes, and some really intriguing cinematography too. There's even a theater cry room in one of the scenes. Popcorn balls appear throughout the film, therefore if Gentlemen Broncos does become a midnight movie sensation, popcorn balls should surely become part of the pageantry of the attendees. That would be fun to clean up.
Unfortunately, what should be, isn't always what is, and Gentlemen Broncos may disappear forever. Hopefully, there will be a DVD release of Gentlemen Broncos in the the near future, otherwise, this pseudo science fiction oddity may become another Whiffs* (1974), and dissipate like a cloud of Hollywood Smoke... forever.
So if Gentlemen Broncos comes to your local midnight movie house, be sure to don your grandmother's nightgown, grab a pink cape, fake moustache, and long blond haired wig, then mount your battle stag and head over to the cinematic yeast mine. Don't forget the popcorn balls... two in a bag. And beware Younglings donning mammary cannons intent on probing the mysteries of the Human mind. I hate those.
*Like Gentlemen Broncos, much of Whiffs was filmed in Tooele, UT and it also should have become a mainstream hit. Whiffs featured big names like Elliot Gould, (his role following M*A*S*H), Eddie Albert, Jenifer O'Neil, etc. Whiffs even received an Academy Award nomination for its title song, but only a few folks actually got to see Whiffs before it was swept under the rug. There was a limited VHS release of Whiffs, but the film has never been released on DVD, and probably never will be.
Whiffs Trailer from 1975 - sorry about the commercial!!!