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Sunday, May 11, 2014

HOT RODS TO HELL (1967)

Stalwarts at 20th/Fox in the ‘40 & ‘50s, Jeanne Crain & Dana Andrews hardly knew what hit ‘em in this little exploitation vehicle from prolific producer Sam Katzman. The real pity is seeing another 20th/Fox vet, director John Brahm who’d moved into tv not long after two truly superior period films noir (THE LODGER/’44; HANGOVER SQUARE/’45), wasting his remarkable talent on this schlock. The nonsensical story has Andrews and his happy family heading West to run a roadhouse motel. Before they even arrive, they make quick enemies (and an easy target) for a bunch of young hot rod punks. The sets, costumes and rapidly evolving youth culture all get OTT treatment, matched by even more ridiculous acting. You expect the worst from the long-in-the-tooth teens as well as the no-name supporting cast, but what was Jeanne Crain thinking? The real threat in the picture is a lack of seatbelts for those kids in the backseats. (Extra points for having Mickey Rooney, Jr. and his band as the rock act.)

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: (Really another LISTEN to this.) You’re probably better off just hearing Paul Lynde sing ‘Kids’ from the Original Cast Recording of BYE BYE BIRDIE.* It makes the same point as the film, but funnier & a lot quicker. (*On the BYE BYE BIRDIE film Soundtrack, Lynde shares the number; much less effective.)

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