A minor cult hit from the exciting 70’s; ‘Aloha, Bobby and Rose’ is one of those pictures that regularly surprises, with a storyline that veers off into different directions, culminating in a tense and rather downbeat ending.
Soon after they start dating, mechanic Bobby (Paul Le Mat) and single mother Rose (Dianne Hull) are enjoying a night out on the town. While at a liquor store, Bobby does a fake “stick up” as a prank to amuse Rose. Tragically, this backfires when the young cashier is accidentally shot and killed by the store’s owner, leaving Bobby and Rose running from the law.
In a rare lead role, likable Paul Le Mat will forever be remembered for his supercool turn in ‘American Graffiti’ (’73), and would later score a hit with Jonathan Demme’s Oscar-winning drama ‘Melvin and Howard’ (’80). I thought he was great here and it was nice to see Le Mat in another role that suited his easy-going (yet with a sense of danger bubbling underneath) persona. In the more complex part, pretty Dianne Hull was also a bit of a revelation as the spunky yet vulnerable Rose. A much under-used actress, Hull later played John Savage’s wife in the moving crime pic ‘The Onion Field’ (’79), but has sadly not had the screen career that matched her talents. Also memorable was a scene-stealing Tim McIntire, who’s great as an affable but dangerous traveller who befriends Bobby and Rose.
Writer-director Floyd Mutrux had earlier made the excellent heroin addiction docudrama ‘Dusty and Sweets McGee’ (’71), and special mention should be given to William Fraker’s handsome cinematography, which gives the picture a seductive feel, especially in the leon lit night-time scenes.
What elevates the movie for me is the superb choice of songs that weave in and out of the ever-shifting storyline. From Elton John’s “Your Song” & “Tiny Dancer”, to The Temptations “Just My Imagination”, it’s the fantastic soundtrack that I remembered most from my first viewing of the film. I especially love the simple sequence of Bobby and Rose driving around town at night while Junior Walker’s “What Does It Take to Win Your Love” plays out.
A little-known gem from the Seventies, ‘Aloha, Bobby and Rose’ is a wonderful discovery to the uninitiated with a story that changes direction at regular intervals. A nostalgic surprise with a soundtrack full of treats , it’s pretty much a delight from start to finish, with only the occasional flagging moment. But, like Bobby and Rose themselves, nobody’s perfect!