Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hot Rod Girl (1956)

Director: Leslie H. Martinson

Starring: Lori Nelson, John Smith, Frank Gorshin, Chuck Connors, Russell Thorson, and Mark Andrews

Them crazy hot rodding kids, with their rock n roll music and television sets...why in my day.....

Sorry...started to sound like my grandfather there for a minute. Now, when I first purchased this DVD at a local K-Mart, basically I was expecting some good ol' fashioned juvenile delinquent fun. Y'know...chicken races, gang rumbles, a swinging rockabilly soundtrack, drinking soda pop straight from the bottle (that stuff'll rot yer teeth, according to dear ol' late granddad...'course this was a man who chewed tobacco, one of the most disgusting habits on the face of the what did he know? ). What I get is= Frank Gorshin (as a teenage goofball nicknamed "Flattop"), Chuck Connors (as the cop with a heart of gold), and some guy named John Smith as the whiniest mechanic in history...I mean, this guy broods so much, Hamlet stopped by and said, "Hey buddy...lighten it up a bit."

THE PLOT: Lori Nelson portrays the "Hot Rod Girl" from the title, and her boyfriend is the aforementioned mechanic...whom I will from here on out refer to as "Blubberpuss". It seems Ol' Blubberpuss was quite a hot rodder in his day, but has gotten older and much wiser, and doesn't want any of the younger kids, especially his brother, getting in the same troubles he did. So, he's teamed with police officer Ben (Chuck Connors) and they've set up a racetrack for these gear monkey teenagers, so that they can hotrod in an environment designed for it, and not out on the streets, which seems to be getting alot of them in trouble, especially one of Blubberpuss's brother's friends, "Flattop" (Frank Gorshin).

Everything seems fine until one afternoon, after a constructive day of burning tires down at Ye Olde Speedway, Blubberpuss and his brother are on their way home in a sweet T Bucket, and a local hoodlum challenges them to a race. Though the mechanic protests, his wiry sibling won't listen...and it all ends in a wreck that kills the younger brother...and leaves Blubber with more gulit and angst than friggin' Peter Parker.

Then, if things weren't bad enough..some punk from outta town rolls into the burg, looki' to rumble with his hot rod Lincoln. This guy starts hittin' on ol' Blubberpuss' ladyfriend (Lori Nelson, of REVENGE OF THE CREATURE fame...who, because of the lack of budget on this flick, was asked to use her own car in the sequences in which she's racing), and that's not the end of his troubles. "Flattop gets suckered into a chicken race with the stranger and loses...pushing Blubber to the breaking point. They race, Blubberpuss wins. The End.

Interesting side note- director Leslie Martinson would team with Frank Gorshin again, in 1966, when Martinson would directed the big screen BATMAN The Movie, featuring Gorshin as The Riddler.

Lori Nelson, who portrays the Hot Rod Girl of the title, was a mainstay of 1950's cinema, starring in such films as the aforementioned last installment of "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" series, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, and several Roger Corman productions of the day.

Chuck Connors, besides being the detective Ben in this flick, would go on to fame as the star of THE RIFLEMAN (and my personal favorite, BRANDED). In my opinion, though, he'll never top his performance in one of my personal favorite episodes of the 1950s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, "Flight to the North" in which he portrays hillbilly "Seymore Superman" opposite the late George Reeves.

Recommended for fans of the Rifleman...or corny 1960s nightclub impressionists. Detroit steel junkies such as myself may find some interest in this flick as well.

1 comment:

LazySusan said...

Hi! Love your blog, I'm a B-movie addict and I work in film. I thought I'd share a doc I saw recently - It warmed my heart seeing "Popatopolis" (I saw it in the theater, but the DVD is out: Popatopolis Trailer ). The film covers Jim Wynorski, one of the most prolific B-movie directors of all time, as he shoots his masterpiece The Witches of Breastwick in three days. The despair of the sound guy who has to keep rolling all the time because he never quite knows whether camera is rolling – the line where Jim goes to rent a light kit and asks for something that is good for lighting breasts (and ends up with all of two lights), and the scene where they fake fire in a dark park using flashlights (“we could get a generator, a light, and a permit” “Yeah, that’d be one way to do it”) had me rolling – especially knowing that Wynorski made more money off of this microbudget film than I’ve made off of all the films I’ve made put together. Sort of puts things into perspective.