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4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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(Feb 17, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

It was supposed to be a simple documentary about roller derby. Then Mike Snell came along. In 1972, filmmaker Robert Kaylor (Carny) and producer William Richert (Winter Kills, A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon) set out to shoot a cinema verité documentary about roller derby when the 23-year-old Snell walked in to the locker room during an interview and announced his intention to become the next big roller derby sensation.

Kaylor and Richert switched gears to explore the life of the young tire company employee and discovered a world of deceit and ulterior motives as Snell relentlessly pursued his dream.

Contrasting the personal and professional success of Mike s would-be mentor, Charley O Connell, with the day-to-day struggles of Snell s unusual family life, Derby follows in the footsteps of the Maysles brothers as it exposes the decay of American culture pit against the backdrop of a spectator sport that thrives on the spectacle of human combat.

Long believed to be lost, Max-Out is Robert Kaylor s stunning debut film featuring a cast entirely composed of actual convicted felons. Fully improvised with no script, the film follows the plight of an African-American ex-convict whose struggle to find work after serving time only reinforces his criminal instincts and his desire for respect in a world that offers little hope.

Code Red is proud to present this extremely rare production which represents a bold example of Kaylor s talent as an artist as it redefines the documentary as a means of therapy for its participants.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Robert Kaylor
  • Format: Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Navarre Corporation
  • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001M5BF9W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,066 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Derby" on IMDb

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It's great to have this rare documentary look at Roller Derby in the late 1960's finally arrive on DVD. The period of 1969-1973 was the last "golden age" of Roller Derby, and this film does a good job of capturing that world. There's a lot of vintage skating on display featuring the San Francisco Bombers, Northwest Cardinals, Northeast Braves and Midwest Pioneers. The film is also a portrait of a young would-be skater, Mike Snell, whose dream is to enter the Derby. His lifestyle is less than exemplary, and this documentary examines him warts-and-all.

The DVD is full frame, as it was originally photographed. The disc includes two audio commentary tracks, one with director Robert Kaylor and the other with producer William Richert. Both of them are entertaining, although each man makes some mistakes in identifying certain skaters. Kaylor is more interested in the Derby as a microcosm of society, while Richert is more intrigued by the entertainment aspects and the skill of the athletes. The disc's image and color is less bright than the long out-of-print VHS release, but the new DVD shows sharper focus.

The film now survives as a time capsule depiction of the dawning of the 1970's. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but surprisingly truthful about the "American Dream."
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Released in April 1971 and directed by Robert Kaylor, the docu-drama proved to be revolutionary since it contains all the elements that has worked masterfully on reality television shows that jump into sports/sports-entertainment.

What appears to be a planned documentary on the Roller Derby league veers into another direction when 23 year old Mike Snell appears on the scene to chase a dream of jamming on the track. The cockiness and midnight rambling of the married father of two young children is juxtaposed with legendary skater Charlie O'Donnell of the San Francisco Bay Bombers, whose drive to the top began as a youngster in a New York City park during matches between neighborhood "teams" on a circuit around a cast-iron railing. O'Donnell has captured a slice of pop culture fame, but a price is paid through the hard bumps and lengthy coast-to-coast tours. Truly, the strong can only survive this grind.

The end of the "documentary" is actually the possible start of Snell's new career, with the cliffhanger fitting the business model of company owner Jerry Seltzer, who placed a premium on live shows over the whole story being easily seen on a screen. There are solid scenes from matches and the flamboyant Ann Calvello proves to be larger-than-life while bending the rules.

The movie tanked at the box office and Seltzer shut down the company in 1973 due to runaway costs caused by oil shortages. But what actually marked the end of one era pointed to another that entertains countless millions on a daily basis.
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The movie is Derby and it has my brothers Mike and Butch ,as well as my sister-in-law Christina and my father ( who was in the hospital at the time recovering from the many ailments he suffered in his later years ). The story is about Mike wanting to join the roller derby and the many trials and tribulations he had to face to get there. If you like to look at what we would now call the "good ol days" and reminice about the early and turbulent 70's , then this movie is a dandy! It also shed light on the situations and travels of the roller derby people like Charlie O'Connell, Ann Calvello and Eddie Krebs. It is a great little documentary and it did win a few regional awards. Get the movie, sit back and enjoy the retro times of yore !!
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