review for Citizens Band on AllMovie

Citizens Band (1977)
by Donald Guarisco review

Jonathan Demme's first post-Corman production is one of his best and worthy of rediscovery by anyone who enjoyed the better-known Melvin and Howard. Superficially, Citizens Band is a comedy designed to capitalize on the C.B. radio craze of the mid-'70s, but Demme and screenwriter Paul Brickman manage to turn it into something much deeper. Brickman's richly textured script uses the characters' love of C.B. communication as a metaphor for the fact that the community they live in is full of disconnected people who yearn to make the kind of real relationships their radios make possible in a fantasy form. It also utilizes a tricky episodic structure that seems demanding at first, but eventually weaves the story's threads into a satisfying (and frequently surprising) whole. Demme's direction keeps the story's wealth of details clear and cross-cuts between them with a kinetic energy that makes the proceedings fun to watch. His directorial work also benefits from sharp cinematography by Jordan Croneenweth -- that captures the film's Americana-rich feel beautifully -- and tight editing by John Link. However, the true appeal of Citizens Band lies the rich performances that give the story its heart. Paul Le Mat brings an everyman-styled appeal to the role of Spider, Charles Napier infuses the potentially unsympathetic Chrome Angel with plenty of down-home charm, and Candy Clark is quite seductive as the intelligent but confused woman who comes between Spider and Blood. All in all, Citizens Band is a warm yet witty gem that is begging to be rediscovered by fans of lesser-known 1970s cinema.