Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Part 2: A BADASS INTERVIEW WITH #2 BADASS, RICK BOOM

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Johnny Weissmuller, Jr. & Rick Boom toss around The Toad like a rag doll
  Welcome back to Pt. 2 of my conversation with the fascinating Rick Boom on Kip Pullman's American Graffiti Blog. So without further ado...  CLICK HERE TO GO TO PT 1
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KIP:  Did you act in any scenes that were cut out of the final print of the movie?  
 
RICK: Yes. There was a scene where we stole the ’58 Impala Chevy. They never did use it. I was paired up with a guy named, Steve Tomasini for that scene. He was 6’ 7” and his father was part of the big wigs in town. Later they brought in Johnny Weissmuller, Jr to do the fight scene.
   
KIP: Was that at the canal bank in Novato?
   
RICK: It was not completely in Novato, but out behind the Petaluma Municipal Airport, on the left going in and we went through a couple of gates. 
 
KIP: Can you describe a little more about the scene where you guys steal the car?  
 
RICK: Well, it was a long time ago. I think once Candy Clark and Charlie Martin-Smith had left the car by itself we were supposed to walk up with a flashlight and check out the empty car.  We then started to walk quietly towards the couple and one of us springs open a switchblade. Once we realized the two weren’t aware of our presence we walked back, got in their car and drove away with it.   
 

KIP: How many takes did you do before Lucas was satisfied with what he’d filmed?  
 
RICK: We had to do it a few times because they couldn’t catch the gleam or flashing of the knife right. It seemed like we were out there all night.
 
 
KIP: The first part of the scene where the couple is walking down to the canal holding hands it looks like it was filmed during dusk using a dark lens…
 
RICK: Well, at the time I had no idea about movie making. I thought they had their heads up their butts ‘cause it took so long between scenes [laughs]. They’d shoot one scene and then it would take them 3 hours to get around to the next one. I thought they would be saying, “We’ll set this up, move this one here and let’s do this.” But, oh no, that’s not how they did it. They all sat and talked for a while, drank coffee, and fooled around. Then all of a sudden everybody got galvanized and away we went again.  

KIP: So it took a long time.

RICK: I quickly learned that on a movie set people spend most of their time waiting. Often times they are waiting for the director of photography to announce that the lighting is at last ready and the scene can now be photographed.


KIP: Your white 1960 Impala can be seen slowly cruising in the parking lot at Mels Drive-in. What recollections do you have of being at the famous drive-in?

RICK: It was fun but we did a lot of waiting and killing time. Mels was kind of in a Y between Mission and South Van Ness. When they weren’t using us we parked where the two streets split. I think there was a Firestone Tires store there or something. We’d back in there and sit there. We’d have the trunk of my car filled with cold beer and once actor Paul LeMatt found out about the beer he hung out with us too. When there were scenes where he wasn’t needed he sat in the back seat and drank beers with us. That was a lot of fun.  Other times when they were shooting at Mels and they didn’t need us for anything a lot of us would go out and cruise Broadway in San Francisco. Once in awhile we’d sit inside of Mels and watch them shoot outside.
 
KIP: Sitting in a booth at Mels made you an extra or participant in the film as you got to watch them film. That sounds interesting.  

RICK: Yeah, that’s interesting for about a half-hour and then it’s boring. We’d get restless just sitting there under bright lights while the crew took hours to set up a shot.

"When there were scenes where he wasn’t needed actor, Paul LeMat sat in the back seat of my Impala and drank beers with us."

KIP: Did you drive any cars besides your own?    

RICK: There was a guy, Al Taylor who had a 1957 Buick called the “Cubik.”  It was a show car. His thing was he wanted pictures taken on location with the actors so he could display them at car shows. He lived in Oakland and there wasn’t much percentage in Al driving his car back and fourth every night so I kept the Cubik for a couple of weeks at my house in Petaluma. Then we’d do a shuttle thing: We’d take the Cubik down and park it on location and then somebody would drive us back and we’d bring the other car down.   

KIP: I’m familiar with the car because I’ve seen pictures of it on location but I don’t recall seeing it in the film. 
   
RICK:  I always felt the poor guy got screwed because they didn’t use his car in the film. George Lucas thought it was too fancy because they didn’t have paint jobs like that in those days. Maybe the modifications were too modern to fit in with the era that the film took place, I don’t know.
   
KIP: I don’t think they had full side pipes and American Racing Magnesium, Torq Thrust II wheels in 1962.
 
Charles Martin-Smith & Candy Clark pose with Al Taylor's '57 Buick known as the "Cubik."

RICK: But, I remember driving that car in certain scenes that never made it into the movie. There is only one scene in the entire movie where, if you look closely, you can see the front of the car. Even in the drag race scene out on Frates Road [called Paradise Road in the movie] we had it parked in line but you can’t see it because it was so dark out there.   

KIP: That’s a shame it didn’t make it into the movie after all the time you spent driving it around. Although the car didn’t make it in the movie somebody took pictures of that car because several photos exist with Candy Clark and Charlie Martin-Smith posing in front of that beautiful car. In fact, some of the pictures were used as lobby cars in other countries.  

RICK: They had a staff photographer come over and take some pictures. But they told us at the start they frowned upon us taking pictures of the actors or posing with the actors so most of complied. Nobody had a camera.
 
My personally autographed lobby card by Candy Clark featuring the two actors in front of the Cubik

KIP: It's interesting that Lucas was so adamant about the '57 Buick, "Cubik" not appearing in the film. It seems if he was so concerned about anachronisms he would not have had one of the lead characters, Curt driving a 1967 Citreon CV. Plus, if one looks closely during some of the cruising scenes you can spot a few cars parked on the curb that are newer than the film's 1962 timeline.  
 
RICK: The film crew would take over downtown and then they would put signs up that said, “No parking past 6:00pm.” Well, if a driver was in the bar and he didn’t come out ‘till 10:00 the car sat there. They weren’t going to stop filming so, they tried to shoot around them but they still managed to get a couple of the newer cars in the movie. When the guy would show up he’d move his car but until then they weren’t going to go and look for ‘em.    
 
Parked on the curb is what appears to be a 1967 Chevy, Caprice with a dented door.

KIP: You mentioned you parked the ’57 Buick on the side of the Frates Road for the climatic drag race scene at the end of the film… 

RICK: That whole drag race scene was a mess.  

KIP: Why was that?

RICK: Well, they took us out there after midnight and we sat there for the longest time waiting for the sun to come up because that’s when they wanted to shoot it.
 
KIP: The “Golden Hour,” I think they call it.
 
RICK: We waited and waited. Pardon my French, but the dip-shit stunt driver they had to roll the ’55 Chevy was unbelievable. He had all these excuses for not being able to get the car to roll. He’d say, “I can’t do this, I can’t do that.” He blew it twice. So I was out there digging a trench on an angle that hopefully he’d slide into and then the tires would catch on the trench and he’d roll it. I spent half an hour digging this friggin’ trench and then he drove up there and missed it. So they stopped right there. That was the end of it. I think we spent two days out there fooling around and we didn’t get anything done. So, when they came back a few weeks later to film it again they had a different driver and they finally got the car to flip over.
"I spent half an hour digging this friggin’ trench to help role the car and then he drove up there and missed it."
  
KIP: So after filming had completed did you continue to own and drive your Impala?   

RICK: I had it for a couple of more years after the film came out and I think I finally sold it to someone in 1975.  

KIP: One last question. Considering all the work you did on American Graffiti how come you weren’t listed in the credits at the end?  

RICK: Simple.  I wasn’t in the union.

KIP: Rick I had no idea before I talked with you how much involvement you had in my favorite move; you drove your 1960 Impala and other cars in the film, you assisted in directing all the hotrods in the cruising scenes in downtown Petaluma and San Rafael and you had an bitchin' acting role as a Badass car thief in the film. I’m very impressed.  I can only imagine what an exciting experience that must have been for you.  

RICK: Oh yea. I was young and impressionable at that age… and indestructible.

 
________________________________________ 
 
ENDE  ~  
 

Rick grew up in Petaluma and was a resident for almost 30 years before moving to Port Orchard Washington in 1979 where he worked at Puget Sound Naval shipyard until he retired. Rick has two boys and five grandchildren. Nowadays you’re more likely to find Rick on a fishing trip rather than fooling around with cars.

NOTES:___________________________________________________  

This printed interview was transcribed from phone conversations with Rick Boom on 10/01/2015,  10/08/2015, & 10/16/2015    

This page is exclusive content. No unauthorized reprinting, republishing or other use without prior authorization or proper referencing. © 2015 by Mark Groesbeck.   
   

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Kip that was a great interview and very interesting

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  2. Glad you enjoyed it. I found the conversation with Rick to be enlightening and fascinating. I'm so glad to pass it on to people such as yourself who can enjoy the information as much as I did. Thanks for your comment!

    ReplyDelete