Film & Water #43 – Kansas City Bomber



Rob welcomes his pal and real life Roller Derby queen Laura Menck to discuss the 1972 roller derby drama KANSAS CITY BOMBER, starring Raquel Welch!

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13 responses to “Film & Water #43 – Kansas City Bomber

  1. Rob, stop picking blockbusters. You’re losing all credibility by focusing only on films that everyone saw and loved.

  2. Well, that was unexpected! When I saw the title I assumed the film would be about some crazed terrorist. To find out it’s Raquel Welch in a roller derby flick was quite a surprise!

    But a very fun episode! I’m now interested in actually watching the film, AND a roller derby bout (I didn’t even know you called them that!) Laura was very informative about the sport, and before this, I had no idea what the object of the game was, other than women rolling at high-speeds, hitting one another. It’s essentially NASCAR without the cars. Who knew?

    Love her handle as well. That would be a great name for a super hero! You should do a comic about her!


    1. Thanks Chris! Laura is one of my all-time favorite people and I was really happy there was the perfect film to discuss with her. Who knows maybe she’ll come back to talk about Drew Barrymore’s WHIP IT.

  3. I saw part of this movie, years ago. When I was a kid, in the 70s, I remember watching roller derby (though I think it was actually the Roller Games promotion) at my grandparents house. It turned up on our local tv, for a while, before it appeared on ESPN, back around 1985. That 80s version was shown in a two hour block with AWA pro wrestling, which was fitting. Roller Derby of that era was more of a performance sport, much like pro wrestling. There were characters and angles, though moreso in the 80s version (including evil manager Georgia Hase). There were two main rival promotions: Roller Derby, which was trademarked and date back to the 30s. Roller Games, which was what was depicted in this film, was started in the 60s and was popular in the 60s and early 70s. It was more theatrical than the Roller Derby league, which kept it more of a competitive sport. The real heydey for Roller Derby was the early 1950s, when tv was in its infancy. Roller Derby and pro wrestling (mostly from Chicago, on the Dumont network) were big favorites in that era. In the 70s and the ESPN show, the Los Angeles Thunderbirds (the T-Birds) were the big babyface team. Their main rivals were the Philadelphia Warriors.

    What I can recall of the film was pretty good. Roller derby turned up in some other areas, like an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man, where Steve infiltrates a team that has been linked to the thefts of government secrets. I wanna say there was another tv show or two that did roller derby-themed episodes, in the 70s.

    There is a 1950 roller derby movie, with Mickey Rooney, called The Fireball. It is based, somewhat, on the life of a real skater, though they played fast and loose with history. Rooney is an orphan who ends up becoming a skater; but, eventually contracts polio.

    Of course, the biggest “roller derby” film is Rollerball, with James Caan. The sport depicted in the film is a mix of roller derby, hockey, gladiatorial combat, and football. A steel ball was fired from a pneumatic cannon, which would be scooped up in a glove, by a catcher, on one of the teams. He then passed it off to other skaters. They then tried to get to their goal and put the ball into it. Players were on skates or motorscooters, and had metal studs on their leather gloves. The motorscooters acted to accelerate the skaters (they had tow rings) and to block the opposing team or break up defenders. The film was noted, in the period, for its violence; but, it is a great allegory about individual effort, corporate domination of people’s lives, and the use of sport and entertainment to distract people from socio-economic problems.

    Glad to hear about the Warner Archives involvement. I’ve been a fan and customer since the early days and have found a lot of great films and cartoons on there, particularly tv movies from my 70s childhood. They have also been releasing old cartoon series, like Funky Phantom and Thundarr the Barbarian. To my great joy, they will soon be releasing the first season of the Filmation cartoon Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. This was one of Filmation’s best series, which ran across 3 seasons of episodes (and at least one or two more repeats). It used rotoscoping to bring some of Tarzan’s athleticism too life. Robert Ridgely (who was also Thundarr and Flash Gordon) provided the perfect voice.

  4. Jeff-

    Yeah I’m very happy about WA’s involvement as well. I really like what they’re doing so I’m thrilled to promote them and of course get a little something in return.

    1. Yeah, I meant to comment on that earlier. I’ve got quite a few Warner Archive titles, and I often stare at their website and think “I need to watch that”. Kind of like listening to this show.

      Perfect match!


  5. Loved this “expert “witness” idea! Looking forward to seeing Shag on the show for The Jerk and for Scarface.

    Laura M was a great addition to a blockbuster lists of guests that really began with your Man Who Fell to Earth episode.

  6. Great news from Warner Bros Archives! I especially like their more obscure offerings from Hanna Barbera. Does anyone else recall “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home” – HB’s take on All in the Family? What a blast from the past!

    After perusing the site, here are my top 3 picks:

    1. Going in Style
    2. Dying Room Only
    3. Cry Terror

    1. Yeah I remember it; but, not too fondly. WA is great if you grew up in the 70s. I was able to not only figure out the titles to two movies I saw as a kid: They Came to Rob Las Vegas and Earth II. Both feature Gary Lockwood and both were exciting films, when I was young. The first has Lockwood as a criminal who is trying to rob a high tech armored car, in the desert between Las Vagas and Ls Angeles. The other was a sci-fi tv movie, where a space station orbiting above the Earth is a sovereign nation, where everyone has renounced weapons. There is a scene at the beginning, where a new family comes onboard and their son has to give up his cap pistol. he becomes over excited and leaps for it and starts moving upwards, due to reduced gravity on the station. It was a nice little film. They also have infamous ones, like Bad Ronald, where a kid has been hiding in the attic of a house, when a new family moves in; and Desperate Lives, with a young Helen Hunt, about kids involved with using PCP. There is a scene where Hunt, high on the drug, jumps out a window. They also have Angel Dusted, which she was also in, which covers the same territory and was often confused with Desperate Lives as the film with the window jumping. On top of all of that, they have the Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman pilot movie. Good times!

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