Roger Corman Does Dallas — 1970

by Paula Bosse

by Paula Bosse

Think you’re up on your “movies-shot-in-Dallas” trivia? I thought I was. Until I happened across a strange little movie in the wee hours of the morning a couple of years ago. The movie is called Gas-s-s-s! Or sometimes Gas–Or–It Became Necessary to Destroy the World In Order to Save It. And it’s directed and produced by the great schlockmeister (and I use that word lovingly), Roger Corman.

For my purposes here, I’m not going to try to describe the meandering plot of this vaguely post-apocalyptic screwball hippie groove-fest, but other than the fact that it has early appearances on film by Bud Cort, Cindy Williams, Ben Vereen, and Talia Shire (billed here as “Tally Coppola”), the only thing that really matters is that a good ten minutes of this really bad movie take place in Dallas — a good chunk of it shot on the SMU campus (?!). (I wonder if there was some guerrilla film-making going on here because it seems unlikely that the powers-that-be at SMU would have allowed Corman to film one of his typical counter-culture movies in the heart of the Park Cities.) (ETA: Well, I’ve recently come across an article from the SMU Daily Campus, which appeared during filming (read it at the bottom of this post). It mentions previous Corman movies, so I guess the Hilltop decision-maker knew of Corman’s oeuvre and was fine with everything. Either that, or that person was lazy and didn’t bother investigating. The working title, by the way, was “Arrowfeather.”)

The Dallas scenes are conveniently right at the beginning of the movie (following a short animated sequence of plot exposition and titles). Corman’s opening montage of the streets of Dallas is only 30-seconds long, but it’s really great! Not that he meant it to be, but it’s like a little valentine to downtown Dallas as it was embarking on a new decade. Look at all those buildings! Look at all those people! Later on you see an eerie, deserted downtown, Dealey Plaza, SMU fraternity row, and a mod, weird-looking church which I’ve never seen (where is that, anyway?). Here’s the opening couple of minutes of the movie:


The entire movie is occasionally on YouTube, but it seems to go up and get pulled off with some frequency. By the time you read this it may no longer be available, but you can watch the trailer here. (If you can find the full movie, the Dallas bits start at about the 3:30 mark and last until about the 13:00 mark.)

I watched the whole thing, and I can’t say I enjoyed it. I DID really like Cindy Williams as an excitable music geek, here in her first movie — three years before American Graffiti and longer still before Laverne & Shirley — but I’m not sure that’s enough of a reason to recommend sitting all the way through it. (And don’t get excited about Bud Cort, because his participation is minimal.)

Watch the whole thing if you must. But, remember: you’ve been warned!


gassssss_movie_smu-daily-campus_nov-4-1970SMU Daily Campus, Nov. 4, 1970

This article appeared in the SMU newspaper — The Daily Campus — while the movie was being filmed in Dallas. (Click for larger image.)

gas_making-of_roger-corman_smu-daily-campus_112669SMU Daily Campus, Nov. 26, 1969

The photos accompanying the article are, sadly, not the greatest resolution, but here’s one:



Sources & Notes

SMU Daily Campus article (Nov. 26, 1969) is from the Southern Methodist University Student Newspapers collection, DeGolyer Library — see the scanned issue here.

The IMDb listing for the movie is here. Who knows? You might know people in it! …Heck, you might be in it.

If you’ve arrived at this post by searching on “schlockmeister,” I invite you to peruse these other Flashback Dallas posts about Dallas’ own Roger Corman, Larry Buchanan:


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.