Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

California Dreaming

California DreamingCinema Monolith: 5/10
IMDb: 6.0/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: **½ out of 4

Released on March 16, 1979
Rated R
92 minutes

Directed by John Hancock

Written by Ned Wynn

Cast: Glynnis O’Connor, Dennis Christopher, Seymour Cassel, Dorothy Tristan, John Calvin, Tanya Roberts, James Van Patten, Todd Susman, Stacy Nelkin, Marshall Efron, Alice Playten, John Fain, Shannon Terhune, Ned Wynn

Having lived in San Diego for quite some time, and having spent many a day during my junior and high school years on the sandy shores of Torrey Pines and Del Mar, I’ve always held an affection for the surf-and-sand beach movies of my teenage past, where films like Malibu Beach and The Beach Girls have allowed me the opportunity to travel back to that carefree era, if only for a short while. But as hard as it tried, the late-’70s American International release California Dreaming could not muster in me that same level of appreciation.

Dennis Christopher, who played such a likeable and engaging character in the bicycling drama Breaking Away, here plays a bothersome dink name T.T., who arrives from Chicago to a tiny beachfront town in Southern California, hoping to either get a tan, score some beach bunnies, or irritate the locals. From the start, it’s obvious he’ll easily succeed with that third option, while the other two remain severely questionable. Soon, however, he meets the amiable Duke, played by Seymour Cassel, who runs a beachfront bar and tries to coach T.T. on the finer points of beach life.

Like I mentioned, I watched this for the 1970s beach atmosphere, but mostly I watched this for Glynnis O’Connor, playing Duke’s daughter Corky, an actress I’ve had a crush on for decades; if you’ve ever seen the made-for-television movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, like I did when I was twelve, then you’ll know why. Quite the cutie at the time, and now four years later she’s become quite the sun-blonde hottie, spending the entirety of her screen time decked out in either a white bikini or skimpy beachwear, and displaying a warmly-tanned form I just wanted to melt into.

The problem with all of this was, I don’t think the filmmakers quite new what type of movie they wanted to make: a romance drama, a romance comedy, or a typical teen sex comedy of the era. To me, this should have been nothing but a fun romantic drama, minus all of the unnecessary scenes involving humor, sex, and Christopher; though I didn’t mind Glynnis’ topless moments, someone definitely needed to teach that idiot T.T. how to interact with a girl in bed, or in general. It was tough at times—too many times, actually—having to watch Christopher, who was irritating beyond belief, and whose character’s story arc rarely felt believable, and never once possible.

And the rest of the movie? A good taste of the California surf community and culture, and a nice evening shot of the Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo, but everything beyond that was dealt a deadly blow by quite a few ugly camera set-ups by director John Hancock, some strange story ideas that played out rather clumsily, and the annoying presence of Christopher, whose character seemed to have wandered in from another film, and overall was about as socially inept as any one person could be. If you must watch this, do so for Glynnis, and tolerate your way through the rest.  (5/10)

California Dreaming - photo Glynnis crop 250

4 comments on “California Dreaming

  1. Dracula

    You will be able to see Glynnis in March, 2019 in a film called Diane. Go get your ticket!


    • Todd B

      I was not aware of this…funny she didn’t mention it to me. Also, Diane stars Joyce Van Patten, aunt of James Van Patten, who played one of the main three surfers in California Dreaming!


  2. No way I so remember The Boy in the Plastic Bubble! It one of those films that stuck with you as a kid thinking how messed up it was to be Johnny T in his plastic room…. Yep you so right, Glynnis looks lovely in her two piece on the beach. I just had to go study some google images for educational purposes…. LOL sounds like Christopher was a total cockblock douchebag on this film. Should of been Glynnis and her mates playing volleyball for two hours! Oh well you can’t win them all…. I was eyeing this one up to watch one day but I think I’ll steer clear until I run out of films to see. Thanks for giving me an insight to it though Todd. Great review buddy.


    • Todd B

      Based on what I read on-line, it seems you and I weren’t the only two young guys to fondly remember The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. And you’re absolutely right: Christopher was somewhat of a douchebag, and I would’ve had a better time watching Glynnis play volleyball for the entire film. So many better things could’ve been done with this premise, and I wish the Avila Beach location had been better utilized, and better photographed. Oh, and what do you know…I was looking up certain California Dreaming images on Google last night as well! Thanks, Mikey!

      Liked by 1 person

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From the Monolith: 130

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