Handle with Care (1977)

PG | 96 mins | Comedy-drama | 18 May 1977

Director:

Jonathan Demme

Writer:

Paul Brickman

Producer:

Freddie Fields

Cinematographer:

Jordan Cronenweth

Production Designer:

Bill Malley

Production Company:

Fields Company
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HISTORY

The film was reviewed under its original title, Citizens Band, in various reviews including the 30 May 1977 Box, but on 8 June 1977, Var reported that due to poor box-office performance, Paramount Pictures was considering a new title. A 13 Sep 1977 HR news item announced that the film would be renamed Handle With Care. According to a 26 Apr 1978 HR article, Lorimar Distribution International planned to release the film overseas as The Great American Citizens Band.
       Opening credits play over a series of close-ups of the internal and external parts of a Citizens Band (CB) radio as various voices speak CB lingo on the soundtrack. Characters in the movie later repeat some of these lines as dialogue.
       Closing credits identify the cast by the CB “handles” of their characters with cameo-style photos over images of the wedding party caravan converging.
       An 18 Aug 1976 LAT article reported that principal photography would begin 27 Sep 1976 around Marysville, CA. The budget was less than $2 million. According to the 15 Dec 1976 LAT, Citizens Band was currently filming in Marysville and Yuba City, CA.
       On 18 Apr 1977, DV reviewed an unfinished 98-minute version of Citizens Band screened for a preview audience at the La Reina Theatre in Sherman Oaks, CA, on 16 April 1977.
       The 11 Jun 1977 LAT stated that Citizens Band opened 18 May 1977 in 200 theaters in thirty cities, but was quickly revoked from venues when it failed to draw audiences.
       A ... More Less

The film was reviewed under its original title, Citizens Band, in various reviews including the 30 May 1977 Box, but on 8 June 1977, Var reported that due to poor box-office performance, Paramount Pictures was considering a new title. A 13 Sep 1977 HR news item announced that the film would be renamed Handle With Care. According to a 26 Apr 1978 HR article, Lorimar Distribution International planned to release the film overseas as The Great American Citizens Band.
       Opening credits play over a series of close-ups of the internal and external parts of a Citizens Band (CB) radio as various voices speak CB lingo on the soundtrack. Characters in the movie later repeat some of these lines as dialogue.
       Closing credits identify the cast by the CB “handles” of their characters with cameo-style photos over images of the wedding party caravan converging.
       An 18 Aug 1976 LAT article reported that principal photography would begin 27 Sep 1976 around Marysville, CA. The budget was less than $2 million. According to the 15 Dec 1976 LAT, Citizens Band was currently filming in Marysville and Yuba City, CA.
       On 18 Apr 1977, DV reviewed an unfinished 98-minute version of Citizens Band screened for a preview audience at the La Reina Theatre in Sherman Oaks, CA, on 16 April 1977.
       The 11 Jun 1977 LAT stated that Citizens Band opened 18 May 1977 in 200 theaters in thirty cities, but was quickly revoked from venues when it failed to draw audiences.
       A 3 Oct 1977 Village Voice article reported that the film, newly retitled Handle With Care, had been selected to screen at the New York Film Festival on 30 Sep 1977. Paramount planned to then open the film in New York City at the Little Carnegie, a Manhattan art-house venue. According to a 31 Oct 1977 Village Voice story, producer Freddie Fields changed the ending between the festival screening and the New York City release, cutting the CB wedding and concluding on a freeze-frame of “Blaine” and “Pam” kissing. A 17 Nov 1977 DV news item reported that Paramount took the unusual measure of booking the film into two New York City theaters for five days of free screenings, after a “disastrous four-week engagement at the Little Carnegie.”
       Upon its belated New York City release, the 24 Oct 1977 New Yorker review hailed the movie as having “one of the few fully-rounded comic scripts of recent years,” but lamented the elimination of the wedding sequence.
       While reviews described it as being set in a “Western community,” “Middle America,” or the “Southwestern U.S," there are no specific geographic references in the film.
       According to the 15 Dec 1976 LAT , the cast and crew adopted CB-friendly nicknames such as “light fantastic” for the director of photography; “mix master” for the sound mixer; “face ace” for the makeup man; “moth wrangler” for the wardrobe person; and “socket to me” for the electrician. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 May 1977.
---
Cue
15 Oct 1977.
---
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1977
p. 3, 10.
Daily Variety
17 Nov 1977
p. 1, 14.
Films and Filming
Dec 1978
p. 35.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1977
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 1978
p. 1, 21.
LAHExam
18 May 1977
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
18 Aug 1976
Section IV, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 1976
Section H, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
18 May 1977
Section G, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jun 1977
Section II, p. 6.
Mademoiselle
Aug 1977.
---
McCall's
Aug 1977.
---
Motion Picture Production Digest
22 Jun 1977.
---
New Republic
17 Dec 1977.
---
New Times
16 Sep 1977
pp. 65-66.
New West
20 Jun 1977.
---
New York
17 Oct 1977.
---
New York Times
30 Sep 1977.
---
New York Times
6 Nov 1977.
---
New Yorker
24 Oct 1977.
---
Newsweek
17 Oct 1977.
---
Playboy
Aug 1977.
---
Time
7 Nov 1977.
---
Variety
20 Apr 1977
p. 24.
Variety
8 Jun 1977.
---
Village Voice
3 Oct 1977.
---
Village Voice
31 Oct 1977.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Fields Company Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Prod mgr
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
Gaffer
Spec still photog
Unit still photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Best boy
Crane and dolly grip
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
2d prop man
Leadman
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Ward woman
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff ed
Boom man
Cable man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Make-up
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
CB consultant
Dog trainer
Tech adv and asst by
Exec asst. Fields Co.
Exec asst. Fields Co.
Secy to Demme & Brickman
Accounting secy, Fields Co.
Prod secy
Loc auditor
Prod (studio)
Prod (studio)
Scr supv
First aid
Casting
Casting secy
Projectionist
Transportation coord
Transportation co-capt
Transportation co-capt
Caterer – Glendale Food Service
Caterer – Glendale Food Service
Extras casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"You Heard the Song," lyrics by Norman Gimbel, music by Bill Conti
"I'm Not in Love," performed by Richie Havens, words & music by Eric Stewart & Graham Gouldman, ©1975 Man-Ken Music Ltd.
"You Are So Beautiful," performed by Joe Cocker, words & music by Billy Preston & Bruce Fisher, ©1973 Almo Music & Irving Music, Inc.
+
SONGS
"You Heard the Song," lyrics by Norman Gimbel, music by Bill Conti
"I'm Not in Love," performed by Richie Havens, words & music by Eric Stewart & Graham Gouldman, ©1975 Man-Ken Music Ltd.
"You Are So Beautiful," performed by Joe Cocker, words & music by Billy Preston & Bruce Fisher, ©1973 Almo Music & Irving Music, Inc.
"Happy Birthday to You," by M. J. Hill and P. S. Hill.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Citizens Band
Citizen's Band
The Great American Citizens Band
Release Date:
18 May 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 18 May 1977
New York opening: 7 October 1977
Production Date:
began 27 September 1976 at Marchysville and Yuba City, CA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Movielab
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24698
SYNOPSIS

On a rainy night, a sedan pulls into a lovers’ lane and the driver, a teenage boy, turns on the CB [Citizens Band] radio. Using the handle “Warlock,” he puts out a call for “Electra,” and the two engage in sex talk. Listening in, trucker Harold “Chrome Angel” Ressley is run off the road and his rig gets stuck in the mud. As he summons help on his CB, he encounters the chatter of Davey “The Hustler” Conover on the emergency-use-only channel nine. In the nearby town of Union, Blaine “Spider” Lovejoy, who operates a REACT [Radio Emergency Associated Communication Team] station, responds to Harold’s call. Blaine alerts tow-truck driver “Smilin Jack,” who has his hands full elsewhere with a six-car pile-up, so Blaine drives out to help Harold himself. Meanwhile, Harold attempts to free his truck, and his arm is pinned. On a separate channel, “Warlock” and “Electra” are interrupted from their banter and call it a night. Back on the highway, Blaine and another trucker free Harold and call for an ambulance. The next day, Harold, his arm in a cast, parks his rig with the cattle at Smilin Jack’s garage. At his family’s farm, Blaine tends to his dog, Ned, and father, Lloyd “Papa Thermodyne” Lovejoy, a retired trucker who spends his days on the radio. A CB user called “The Priest,” who preaches over the airwaves, interrupts Lloyd’s conversation with a trucker and Blaine asks the cleric to move to another frequency. When Blaine tells his father he has to run errands, Lloyd threatens to kill Ned if Blaine leaves the dog behind. Elsewhere, Harold juggles a couple of payphones as he calls two women, ... +


On a rainy night, a sedan pulls into a lovers’ lane and the driver, a teenage boy, turns on the CB [Citizens Band] radio. Using the handle “Warlock,” he puts out a call for “Electra,” and the two engage in sex talk. Listening in, trucker Harold “Chrome Angel” Ressley is run off the road and his rig gets stuck in the mud. As he summons help on his CB, he encounters the chatter of Davey “The Hustler” Conover on the emergency-use-only channel nine. In the nearby town of Union, Blaine “Spider” Lovejoy, who operates a REACT [Radio Emergency Associated Communication Team] station, responds to Harold’s call. Blaine alerts tow-truck driver “Smilin Jack,” who has his hands full elsewhere with a six-car pile-up, so Blaine drives out to help Harold himself. Meanwhile, Harold attempts to free his truck, and his arm is pinned. On a separate channel, “Warlock” and “Electra” are interrupted from their banter and call it a night. Back on the highway, Blaine and another trucker free Harold and call for an ambulance. The next day, Harold, his arm in a cast, parks his rig with the cattle at Smilin Jack’s garage. At his family’s farm, Blaine tends to his dog, Ned, and father, Lloyd “Papa Thermodyne” Lovejoy, a retired trucker who spends his days on the radio. A CB user called “The Priest,” who preaches over the airwaves, interrupts Lloyd’s conversation with a trucker and Blaine asks the cleric to move to another frequency. When Blaine tells his father he has to run errands, Lloyd threatens to kill Ned if Blaine leaves the dog behind. Elsewhere, Harold juggles a couple of payphones as he calls two women, Joyce “Dallas Angel” Ressley, in Texas, and Connie “Portland Angel” Ressley, in Oregon, to let each know that he is going to be stuck in Union for a while. At the local high school, Blaine visits his gym teacher brother, Dean “Blood” Lovejoy, and asks for help with their father, and invites Dean for Lloyd’s birthday dinner. Afterward, Blaine sees his ex-girlfriend, Pam Armbruster, who uses the CB handle “Electra,” and is also the high school girls’ coach. He interrupts her jogging and asks if he can pick up some things he left at her house. Blaine’s friend, “Cochise,” drops Harold off to see Deb, also known as “Hot Coffee,” a down-to-earth prostitute who works out of a motel. After making love, Harold advises her that the country is “going mobile” and she should join the movement. They visit a recreational vehicle (RV) sales lot and Harold helps Deb buy a mobile home. Meanwhile, Blaine goes to Pam’s apartment to collect a radio, but changes his mind and tells her to keep it. She tries to return a ring he gave her, however, Blaine will not take it. He asks about the man she is seeing, and insists that he still loves her. Afterward, while driving, Blaine is almost hit by a small plane making an emergency landing and is incensed when The Hustler again jams channel nine by reading pornography. That night at a diner, Blaine tells Smilin Jack and the RV salesman that he is going to “clean up the band.” Later, he installs a powerful new antenna on his car and broadcasts a warning to CB operators that he intends to enforce Federal Communications Commission (FCC) laws. The next day, Blaine and Cochise track down the signal of The Hustler to the house of teenager Davey Conover. Blaine barges inside and smashes Davey’s CB radio with a bat. Elsewhere, at a bus station, Connie and Joyce meet and discover they are both headed for Union, then come to realize they are both married to Harold. Meanwhile, Blaine and Cochise’s mission takes them to the home of “Grandma Breaker,” an elderly woman who likes to reminisce on the radio, and Blaine cuts the wire to her oversized antenna. Later, Harold, rides in Debbie’s RV and sees his two wives at the Union bus station and tells Debbie to drive on as he confesses his bigamy. That night, Blaine returns home to find Lloyd intoxicated and unconscious and he has to go alone to a Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting where he receives a distinguished citizen award for his CB work. At the high school, Pam tells Dean, whom she has been dating, that she is dissatisfied, then admits that Blaine wishes to reunite. Dean is jealous, but Pam insists that she is not a trophy to be fought over. Later, Dean’s team loses a basketball game and Blaine waits for Pam at the school. He tells her that he is leaving the farm and his father, and they kiss. Dean sees them and is crushed. Sometime later, Blaine, posing as an FCC official, goes to the door of another illegal CB user, “The Red Baron.” The man is a white supremacist and turns Blaine away, but Blaine climbs up on the roof. When the Red Baron comes out with a gun, Blaine runs to his car and the Red Baron gives chase in his vehicle. However, Blaine tied a rope from the antenna to the Red Baron’s bumper and the antenna crashes down as he drives away. The next day, Blaine and Dean bicker and order a birthday cake for Lloyd. Later, Blaine tracks down the Priest at a church, enters the confessional, and admits to thinking about killing his father. The Priest recognizes Blaine’s voice and chases him off. At a motel, Connie and Joyce get drunk, compare Harold’s bedroom rituals, and plan their revenge. That night, Lloyd makes dinner for Blaine and Pam. When Blaine says the stew tastes like horsemeat, Lloyd corrects him and says it is dog. Pam continues eating, but Blaine rushes outside to look for his dog, Ned. Once Blaine is convinced that Ned is dead, Lloyd lets the dog out of a cabinet and Blaine claims he was not fooled. Later, a CB user with the handle Blood threatens Blaine. Meanwhile, Connie and Joyce release the cows from Harold’s truck. In the morning, Smilin Jack’s parking lot is covered in cow manure and he tells Cochise to get rid of Harold. Back at the motel, Connie and Joyce read a letter from Harold in which he apologizes, but declares they are now even. Harold, Connie and Joyce meet in Deb’s RV to figure things out. Meanwhile, Blaine prepares for Lloyd’s birthday and receives another CB threat. He traces Blood’s signal to Dean’s apartment, where he confronts his drunken, tearful brother. Elsewhere, Warlock pulls into the lovers’ lane and radios for Electra. Pam, aka Electra, confides that she cannot talk to her two boyfriends in the sexy way she relates to Warlock. Back in the RV, Deb suggests that Harold, Connie, Joyce, and their respective children, try living together, and they agree to a thirty-day trial in Portland. Later, Blaine visits Pam unexpectedly and discovers that she is Electra. He confronts her about her relationship with Dean and she chides Blaine for spending all of his time defending the airwaves. Blaine storms home and awakens Lloyd by calling him on the CB, and brings his father a birthday cake. He tells his father that he must leave to make something of himself, but promises that everything will be okay. During the night, Lloyd gets dressed, packs a suitcase and heads into the woods during a storm. Blaine looks for Lloyd the next morning as Dean organizes the CB community, who turn out en masse, in search parties. As the storm clears, Lloyd is found safe in a clearing after rounding up Harold’s cattle. Later, the Priest marries Blaine and Pam via CB, witnessed by a convoy of attendants, as they all drive separate cars. Harold, his wives, and cows depart for Portland. Warlock connects with Deb on the radio. As Blaine and Pam drive away on their honeymoon, Cochise launches a remote control plane with a banner that reads, “Happy Wedding, Electra / Spider.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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