This has to be one of the worst 70's movies of all time. But any diehard pinball fan who remembers the early days of cable probably remembers this flick.  I transferred my tape from VHS to dvd, and also have a rare promo dj soundtrack, which I have yet to play.  See the movie if you can though for the abundant pinball content.

 

 

Fourteen-year-old Brooke Shields stars as "Tilt", a pinball wizard hustler. She hooks up with this wanna be country/rock star and they travel cross country hustling people in bars and arcades all across the USA. Charles Durning stars as "The Whale", a veteran pinball hustler. If you can make it through the scene where Charles Durning dances to the song, "Pinball" as he plays pinball, more power to ya.

boxcover for one of the releases

here's the one I rented, from Continental Video. The box says rated R, but I always thought this movie was rated PG.

Read the Internet Movie Database entry for "Tilt" here.

A guy named Mark emailed a bunch of stuff for this site, including an article that was an interview with director Rudy Durand, which you can read here.  He also had this to add about this pinball cult oddity:

"According to articles in American Cinematographer (Apr 1979), the
pinball game footage was mostly real.  The crew shot 30,000 feet of film
- about 5 hours - to get the 20 minutes used in the movie.  The task of
shooting perfect close-ups of a game in progress with a 35mm movie
camera was no doubt pretty frustrating so some mock-ups were used,
including a few scenes where the ball was attached to a rod overhanging
the camera lens and photographed against a background.  Those scenes are
in the minority and are fairly easy to spot since the ball is not
rolling and the reflections from it are different than they would
normally be.

The entire film, both interiors and exteriors, was shot on locations
around Santa Cruz, CA and Corpus Christi, TX which adds to the realism
and atmosphere considerably.  I've seen the theatrical version of Tilt
(on film) many times and have had the chance to examine it pretty
closely over the years.  It's quite well done but unappreciated
unfortunately by people who view movies superficially.  Tilt is the sort
of film that if a person doesn't care about filmmaking details he/she
probably won't enjoy the movie much.  I think director Rudy Durand, in
his zeal for pinball and the project, over-estimated the acuity of his
audience.

Another thing to consider is that the Warner Bros version of the movie
was not the director's cut.  It would be nice to see the film the way
the Mr. Durand intended but that doesn't seem likely at this point."

 

 

TILT! The Merchandise Machine. Yes, there was merchandising for this movie. A paperback and a soundtrack album. Why, I'm not really sure. (paperback scan courtesy of Russ Jensen)

CLICK ON AN IMAGE TO ENLARGE

FRONT COVER

BACK COVER

 

As you watch this film, notice two pins with a "Koala" cabinet. Until very recently, I thought Koala was a foreign manufacturer of pins. There were so many in the 70's. Well, the mystery is finally solved thanks to veteran pinball historian, Russ Jensen. In a recent email, he had this to say.....

"I believe it was not a complete game, just a complicated mock-up.  Back in the early 80's I visited an old-time coin machine industry person named Bob Jonesi.  During our conversation he told me that he was the one who "designed" that game mock-up for the movie.  Back in the late 40's he worked for Universal Industries who was a subsidiary to United and made console slots, etc."

Russ actually interviewed Harry Williams, the founder of Williams Pinball. In this excerpt, Mr. Williams comments on "Tilt."

"The last thing that Harry mentioned during this conversation was that he had recently attended a special showing of the new Brooke Shields movie, "Tilt", the idea being that the producer wanted him, the inventor of the "tilt", to endorse the film. He said that the film wasn't too bad but that it's the portrayal of 'pinball hustling' "certainly could not help the image of the pinball industry. Harry ended by saying that the movie was somewhat boring to him and that he hoped it would not be very popular. He didn't think it would be. Well, we never really had a chance to find out since the film was never really released to theaters but several years later made limited appearances on cable and regular television."

from the article, "A Visit With Harry Williams" by Russ Jensen

 

UPDATE: Russ caught this site, which jotted his memory for another bit of interesting trivia about this flick. In a really recent email, he had the following to say....

"Many years ago I was visited by an old Jr. High buddy who ended up in the movie industry (like his father before him who had been a cameraman at Paramount).  Anyway he once came to visit us with a friend who was also in the movie industry.  When they saw my pins his friend told me that earlier that year he had worked on the production of the movie TILT.  He then told me that the title originally planned for the film was "Nickle Lights".  I thought that was interesting."

 

So you may be asking (or maybe not:),

"Where can I find this cinematic.....um.....masterpiece?" Well, it goes without saying this movie went out of print almost instantly. I've seen VHS used copies on Ebay affordably priced. I would search under "tilt VHS" and there's usually one fairly cheap.

Also, check your cable listings. It shows up every now and then on WTBS, etc..

 

If you look closely, I think it's in that college bar scene, notice the Space Mission and how dirty the rubbers are. I guess cleaning the pin would have been overbudget for this flick:)

Here's what pins are in the movie and the scene they appear:

300, Gottlieb, 1975

Astrological, Koala, 197?

The Whale's bar/gameroom(beginning scene)

Cleopatra (EM), Gottlieb, 1977

Skylab, Williams, 1974

Space Mission, Williams, 1976

College bar scene

Triple Action, Williams, 1974

Thorn Arcade, ?Mexico?

?Mustang, Gottlieb, '77

King Pin, Gottlieb, 1973

Mexican Bar scene, "Tilt" goes up against a local pin hustler playing King Pin.

Cosmic Venus, Koala, 197?

The Whale's bar/gameroom, "Tilt"(Brooke Shields), challenges "Whale"(Charles Durning to a game of pinball.

(end of movie)

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