Cast & Crew
In New York City after completing an Army tour in Vietnam, Chris Bradley loses interest in his job as recording session backup guitarist and drives to his home town of Pittsburgh, where he looks up his father at the restaurant in which he frequently dines. Roger Bradley, the owner of a baby food manufacturing company, is pleased to see his son, but gently warns that he should get some direction in his life. Together, they visit a go-go club, where Chris is amused to see that his father is attracted to the dancer. When Roger says he can "still cut the mustard," Chris introduces him to Sam, a dancer who is a friend of his ex-girl friend, Terri Terrific. Later, now drunk, the three of them visit Terri, who has accepted Chris's unpredictable appearances in her life. After inviting themselves in, they smoke marijuana and Sam seduces Roger. Although Chris and Terri share conversation and some laughs, they do not resume their sexual relationship. Meanwhile, Lynn, an actress in a beer commercial, attracts Michael, the commercial's producer. As they film a party scene in which happy couples drink Bold Gold beer, Lynn expresses her doubts about the ethics of making products seem better than they are. Michael responds that the commercials provide jobs for everyone in the room and that people watching the commercial can vicariously have a brief experience of living passionately. After the filming, Lynn goes to Michael's apartment, but when he tries to make love to her, she stops him. In his desire for her, Michael offers to arrange anything for Lynn, but she admits that she is a little afraid of him. The next morning, Terri introduces her young son, Chrissie, to Chris and Roger, explaining that they are his father and grandfather. While waiting for his train, Roger questions Chris about his son, but Chris admits that he is not certain he is really the father and refuses Roger's offer of a job. As Chris returns to his car after seeing Roger off, Lynn, who is late for a TV commercial audition, knocks him down in her rush to catch the train. Chris offers her a ride and, pretending to be her manager, gets her the job without an audition. He then invites her out and during a long day together, they talk about numerous subjects. At her apartment, Lynn tells Chris that she is comfortable with "making love" to him, but not "going to bed" with him. As a compromise, Chris agrees to sleep on her couch. Having no other place to stay, Chris continues living with Lynn, although the future of their relationship remains unclear. Every morning, Chris awakens to the sound of a radio talk show hosted by Lynn's father. When Lynn tries coaxing Chris into deciding his future, he evades her with flippant jokes. Lynn tells her divorced mother that, tiring of the shallowness of doing commercials, she thinks that she wants to be a wife and mother. Bitterly, her mother replies that she was a perfect wife and hostess, and suggests that Lynn get ahead by making her own money. Two months later, while Chris stalls filling out a college application, Lynn says truthfully that she is pregnant, but seeing his reaction, apologizes and retracts her statement. When Lynn orders Chris to leave the apartment for the day because her mother is visiting, he visits Terri. Although Chris enjoys playing the father to Chrissie, Terri tells him it is too late to get involved with her son, and that although she wishes he were Chris's, she is not certain. By listing Lynn's father as a reference, Chris gets an interview for an advertising job for which he is unqualified. Chris's fraudulent use of her father's name and his naïveté that he can get a job without proper training angers Lynn. However, Chris easily bluffs two gullible businessmen into hiring him and later tells Lynn he talked "horseshit." Surprised and pleased that he got the job, she apologizes and he admits that she caused him to stretch himself. He then confides that he has a child. Lynn acts stunned and, soon after, meets with Michael to ask for help in ending her pregnancy. Still stinging from Lynn's rejection, Michael snubs her at first, but then admits he is jealous of the baby's father. Although he agrees to procure an abortion for her, he says that when he offered to arrange anything, he had hoped to create, not destroy. At work, Chris is given the task of creating a television commercial to promote the Army to young men. While listening to his colleague list ridiculous reasons why a man would want to join the Army, Chris looks out the window to an odd street display of an elaborate, functionless machine with gears and pulleys. Abruptly, Chris resigns and walks outside past the machine through a crowd of spectators who are being interviewed about the machine by reporters. Later, while talking to Lynn about his day, Chris expresses amusement that people tried to give meaning to the machine, which "some silly ass" had displayed for no purpose. More concerned that Chris quit his job, Lynn asks what it is he wants and, after several flippant answers, Chris says he wishes he could talk to her. Later, as Chris, who is unaware of Lynn's pregnancy, waits for her at the apartment, Lynn walks down a dark stairway to a garage where a man awaits. After she presents him with cash, the man drives her to a vacant building to have an abortion. When Lynn still has not returned by 10:30, Chris leaves a note on her typewriter, asking where she is, and departs. Meanwhile, Lynn is lying on a bed when she changes her mind about the abortion and runs away, chased by two men. Chris proceeds to Terri's apartment, but learns that she has moved. Later, Chris's parents discover him sleeping in a tree outside their house. After Chris confides his story about Lynn's and Terri's disappearances, Roger says he should have allowed him to help and expresses impatience that he is providing money for Chris to live a directionless life. Solemnly, Chris says he does not want to work at his father's factory or at any of the other jobs he could have. Understanding, Roger suggests that the situation is a lot like going to Howard Johnson's for an ice cream, where you can get exotic flavors, but somehow end up with vanilla. Chris jokingly asks about the man who prefers butter pecan, to which Roger says that the man is always disappointed when he cannot get it, and adds meaningfully, "There's always vanilla." As a commercial plays on a television in a suburban home, a narrator claims that life is available to the man who acts and thinks "bold." The commercial continues as Lynn and a man ride off on horses to a gathering of happy friends who drink Bold Gold beer. When the commercial ends, Lynn's husband, who is setting up a bassinet, jokes that the very pregnant Lynn used to be thinner. Soon after, a large, but very light box arrives special delivery. Following the instructions Chris has written on the package, Lynn and her husband go out to their front yard to open it and watch, as two balloons float out and up into the sky.
Luigi Caesar Caruso
Rudolph J. Ricci
George A. Romero
George A. Romero
George A. Romero
John A. Russo
Russel W. Streiner
The working title of the film was The Affair. The release title, There's Always Vanilla, was taken from a scene near the end of the film in which "Roger Bradley" uses the analogy of an ice cream parlor to suggest to his son "Chris" that when he cannot make up his mind about the direction of his life, the mundane is always available. One opening onscreen title card, which appears before the film, reads: "This is a film from The Latent Image, Inc." Footage of two balloons sailing high in the air occur before the opening credits and at the end.
The film begins with a montage of a strange machine that has many moving parts but no obvious use. Observers gathered around the machine, which is displayed on a city street, and make voice-over comments about the machine in a "man-on-the-street" style. The montage continues under the rest of the opening credits and is shown briefly again after Chris quits his job. Intermittently throughout the film Chris talks into the camera about his failed relationship with "Lynn," which he has not been able to understand. The sequences depicting Chris and Lynn talking in a park, zoo and in locations throughout the city, are presented as vignettes and short clips in which each of them asks questions, followed by a series of clips in which they provide short answers.
Although a copyright statement also appears on the title card listing the film's date as 1971 and the claimant as At Play with the Angels, the film was not registered for copyright. Most of the opening screen credits appear as full sentences (without punctuation), for example, "The film was made from a story and screenplay written by Rudolph J. Ricci." George Romero's screen credit reads: "The film was directed, photographed and edited by George A. Romero." An onscreen credit states that the song "Wild Mountain Thyme" was sung by Johanna Lawrence, who also appears in the film as "Terri Terrific." An opening screen card gives "special thanks" to Point View Restaurant, Spotlite Lounge and Gateway Clipper, Inc. There is only one ending card, which reads: "A Cambist Film." According to Filmfacts, There's Always Vanilla was shot in the Pittsburgh, PA area. A modern source reports that the film was in production May-September 1970.
There's Always Vanilla marked the film debut of Ray Laine, a Pittsburgh actor and drama teacher. Before his death in 2000, he appeared in approximately one dozen films that were shot in Pittsburgh. Judith Streiner (Lynn), also known as Judith Ridley, had appeared in the production company's Night of the Living Dead (1968, ). Roger McGovern (Roger Bradley) and Richard Ricci ("Michael") appeared as zombies in the same film. A modern source adds Lane Carroll to the cast.
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972