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David Langham, the youngest son of a hot-rod hating father, Judge Langham, buys an old jalopy but, out of respect for his father, doesn't convert it. He changes his mind when Jack Blodgett, the local speed demon, impresses David's girl, Janie Pitts, and David makes his car the fastest in town. Jack steals David's hot rod, and flees the scene of an accident he causes. The car is traced back to David, but the truth comes out in court, although David's father is still unhappy about the car... until David and his friend, Swifty Johnson, use it to apprehend some escaping robbers. The Judge decides to back a movement for building a hot-rod race track for the town. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Car culture was a big deal for post-war teens. As I recall, cool cars conferred about as much status on ambitious boys as competitive sports. The war had put a big crimp in the supply of new cars, so boys fashioned their own automotive skills by assembling 'hot rods' from spare parts wherever they could get them. As the movie shows, true hot rods were faster than normal, and when a kid won a competition, either on the street or on a track, he was not only showing off driving skills, but mechanical ability as well. In short, he built an enviable reputation among teens if not among adults.
The movie dramatizes much of this. Of course, the story's done Hollywood style. Thus, many of the rough dramatic edges are smoothed out in the end, even if it's not too plausible. For example, kids would continue to do risky street racing, despite drag strips alternatives. Nonetheless, for viewers curious about teens and the time period, Jimmy Lydon is a good example of the teen image prior to James Dean's celebrated rebelliousness. Lydon's a little overage here for the school boy part, but his basic likability and respectfulness are never in doubt.
Anyway, whatever else, the movie remains a showcase for hot-rodding, circa 1950.
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