There's Always Vanilla

Having recently received his discharge from the Army, Laine becomes a drifter, making money at everything from pimping to guitar-playing. He finds himself back in his hometown, Pittsburgh, where he visits his father. Dad wants his son to abandon his new lifestyle and join him in the family baby food business, but Laine refuses. Laine meets a beautiful young...read more

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Having recently received his discharge from the Army, Laine becomes a drifter, making money at everything from pimping to guitar-playing. He finds himself back in his hometown, Pittsburgh, where he visits his father. Dad wants his son to abandon his new lifestyle and join him in the

family baby food business, but Laine refuses. Laine meets a beautiful young woman, Streiner, and soon he has charmed her into letting him live with her. Streiner, who works as a model in television commercials, supports them while Laine claims to be working on a novel based on his life. Though for

a time their life together is a pleasant escape (lovemaking, pot-smoking, rock 'n' roll), eventually Streiner resents having to support Laine, and she motivates him to find a steady job. Using his wits and charm Laine lands a position in an advertising agency, but when he is given an Army account

he quits. Meanwhile Streiner learns she is pregnant, but without telling Laine, she plans an abortion. When the time comes she changes her mind and opts to return to her hometown and marry her childhood sweetheart, who has agreed to raise the child as his own. The relationship shattered, Laine

moves in with his father, who tells him that of all life's exotic flavors one can always choose vanilla.

THERE'S ALWAYS VANILLA was the first of only a handful of nonhorror films directed by the dean of modern American horrors, George Romero (the others being the marginally horrific JACK's WIFE [1972] and the vastly underrated KNIGHTRIDERS [1981]). After making the powerful and controversial NIGHT

OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), Romero feared being pegged as a horror director and launched immediately into this GRADUATE-inspired romance written by Ricci. By Romero's own admission the film was a disaster and shouldn't have been made at all. It is quite obvious the director's heart just wasn't in

it. Romero is a very passionate filmmaker, and when he has transferred that passion to the screen, he has created some incredible films. But this script wasn't his own (he has written all his best films), and the subject matter was too derivative for any true creativity. In fact, it seems Romero's

main interest was in the visuals. Still smarting from negative criticism of the grainy black-and-white photography in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (which only adds to the overall power of the film), Romero was determined to make a slick Hollywood-style film in gorgeous color, so he shot the film

himself. THERE'S ALWAYS VANILLA does look nice, but it is a misfired exercise that the director has stated "doesn't count" when one evaluates his films.

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  • Released: 1972
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Having recently received his discharge from the Army, Laine becomes a drifter, making money at everything from pimping to guitar-playing. He finds himself back in his hometown, Pittsburgh, where he visits his father. Dad wants his son to abandon his new li… (more)

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