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Hi, Everyone, This is a good movie for anyone who likes old cars and
fast girls. The police drove Nashes. Dorothy Malone looked great. John
Ireland does a good job being the quiet, likable kidnapper type.
Snub Pollard from the Laurel and Hardy days is here in a small role. Look for his mustache.
A fill up of gasoline and a check of the oil comes to $4 at full service. That seemed a little high, but it was a name brand station.
The plot is your basic girl/race car driver being kidnapped by the only young guy in town. This is after she is hit on by the local truck driver/detective wannabe senior citizen who remains unconscious for most of the film.
This was probably an excellent movie for a rainy night at the drive-in theater. This film has some nice moments.
If you like John Ireland, watch Red River for one of his earlier roles. Dorothy Malone did a movie I enjoyed called The Last Voyage.
Surprisingly solid production with an obviously very low budget (this was producer Corman's first film, I believe, and he is true to form). About a man on the run who kidnaps a lovely lady in a sports car. Of course, she falls in love with him when he gives her a picnic. Strictly stock footage and poor rear-projection for the race scenes. Some nice touches in the dialogue. It's actually surprising that this film emerges as watchable, but it even ends up being likeable. Well, it took me years to find it, but I can't say I ever expected it to be any good, so I guess I wasn't disappointed. First film for American International Pictures (then known as American Releasing Corporation or ARC, under the auspices of the infamous Alex Gordon, Jim Nicholson, and Sam Arkoff), whose only producers at that time were Gordon, Corman, and (eventually) Herman Cohen, if I got all the names right. Anyway, as most drive in fans know, these guys changed the world of movies, and I guess this little film is where it all started. Well, fast cars and girls in danger is a good film formula, so I guess they didn't pick a bad place to start off.
Almost the entire movie takes place in the cockpit of a 1954 Jaguar
XK120 roadster, a stunningly beautiful car in its day, and still highly
admired by classic sports car enthusiasts, who will be the main
audience for this movie.
The story line is a snoozer, the acting is amateurish, Ireland has only one facial expression, the grimace, which gets tiresome after 30 seconds, and the only interesting character in this turkey is the diner waitress. The opening scene is a truck crashing, but we don't find out what this has to do with anything else until halfway through the movie.
The real star of the picture is the car, and the clips from open road sports car racing in the early 1950's, before they moved to closed tracks. We get glimpses of some more Jaguars, MG's, Triumphs, Austin-Healeys, Nash-Healeys, Porsches, Allards, Jowetts, Aston-Martins, Oscas and Ferraris, some pre-WW1 speedsters in a vintage race, and a bit of the Pebble Beach Concours with a Rolls-Royce that has nothing to do with the plot.
If you know anybody with an old British sports car, buy this one for them at the dollar store. That's what I paid.
There are continuity goofs galore in this turkey, mainly in the racing clips repeated and sometimes reversed, so you get car numbers backwards. Look for the sign in front of the marshal's stand that reads backwards.
At one point Ireland hot wires this strange car, in the dark, with absolutely nothing, in only a few seconds. Come on!
When the star car starts the race it is with white wire wheels, full width bumpers and without a front license plate, then at the first turn the plate appears, then the front bumpers disappear and become little bumperettes, then they reappear, the wheels change from white to dark and back again, and so on throughout the race. The pursuing car is also a Jaguar XK120, usually dark color with a full folded down light colored top, but at the road block it is light with a dark top, and in some shots it becomes an open roadster with a different style windshield. Short clips from other races are thrown in from time to time (gotta have some crashes). When the race is half over, the girl back at the starting line jumps into an Allard and somehow catches up to the Jags, by which time the Allard has changed color twice, and gained a spare tire on first the right side, then the left, then the right again, and now it has portholes in the side, definitely not the same Allard she started with.
This wonderful little picture proves that not every movie shot in black
white on a low budget in the early '50's, with plenty of cops, crooks, and
guns is film noir. It starts out hinting that direction,
Frank Webster is serving time for murder until he breaks out of jail. Webster is all fatalistic about life and depressed about his circumstances, because he's been falsely convicted. Seems he's trying to make an honest buck as a trucker and his biggest rival tries to put him out of business by running him off the road. It is one of the rival's flunkies who is killed in the attempt, and this is the murder that Webster is framed for.
Enter the femme fatale, Connie Adair (Dorothy Malone). Webster kidnaps her and forces her to drive him to Mexico. Connie is plenty femme but not much fatale. She's decent, you see, wants Frank to give himself up and face a jury, where she is sure when his story is told, he will be exonerated. That pop sound you hear is the sound of my film noir balloon bursting.
Though it didn't live up to my expectations of what it would be, what it is turns out to be pretty good. John Ireland and Dorothy Malone give good performances, though they're the only ones who do. Ireland always presents to me as a Robert Mitchum clone, and he sure did here. Malone is stunning. Webster (Ireland) comments at one point on her figure, to which Connie (Malone) replies, indignantly, "There's *nothing* wrong with my figure!" Webster's response: "I noticed." And, he's not the only one.
Bottom line: This was American International's first picture, and they would go on to do many worse. I liked this picture, even if it wasn't film noir. 7 out of 10.
It is not easy to make a film where the star is a car, and Roger Corman knew how to do it. The car is the Jaguar XK, probably the 120 and seeing this car on the screen looking brand new makes you realize how once there was a species called "sports cars" that does not exist anymore. Just compare that car with the ultra, over luxurious XKs of today. Another car I was happy to see in the movie was the Triumph TR2. The plot about a fugitive (John Ireland) that kidnaps a woman with a Jag (Dorothy Malone) blends well with the racing scenes, which are excellent. Ireland, driving Malone's car takes part in a race that will end in Mexico, he duels with another Jaguar for the delight of anyone who enjoys motor racing.
This may be one of very few opportunities to see real racers in real
race cars on a real - late and lamented - racetrack. Pebble Beach was
an early Mecca for road racing fans, and while there are some
discontinuities and incongruous events in the story, some of what is
shown on-screen will be of value to motor sport historians, who should
be able to identify the drivers and cars. As a novelty, perhaps, but
John Ireland and Dorothy Malone went on to do some creditable work, and are not bad here, but to be honest, they don't have that much to work with. Not entirely a time-waster, at any rate.
This is a decent if imperfect B-grade action feature, which today
offers the added attraction of seeing the contemporary road-racing
cars. The story uses a familiar plot idea, and simply adds the racing
setting to give it some extra turns. The cast and characters are solid,
though none of them really stands out.
John Ireland plays a wrongly-accused fugitive who kidnaps a female racer played by Dorothy Malone, and then heads for the border in her car. Roger Corman's story has some good sequences of action and drama, but there are a number of other stretches where things become dull or repetitive. The climactic race sequence offers an adequate finale, though it leaves you with the feeling of slightly unrealized potential.
The movie has enough strengths to be at least average for its time and genre. If you can overlook a few flaws, it's worth seeing as a way to pass an hour or so.
Frank Webster, (John Ireland) is a truck driver and is accused of killing another truck driver by driving him off the road and John breaks out of jail and finds a diner to eat and meets up with Connie Adair, (Dorothy Malone). John's identity is questioned in the diner by a man and is very suspicious of him and John knocks him out and grabs Connie and takes off in her sports racing jaguar. Connie and Frank go for very speedy rides through out California to Mexico and they even enter a car race with the police following them all the way. Connie & Frank manage to get along after fighting with each other all the time and there eventually becomes a romantic relationship between the two of them. John Ireland was also the director of this film and Dorothy Malone looked very young and attractive and they both gave an outstanding performance in this black and white B Film by Roger Corman.
****SPOILERS**** After a rival trucker tried to run Frank Webster, John
Ireland, off the road and ends up losing control of his truck and
plunging to his death Frank was arrested and put in the local jail.
Later with a group of the truckers friends about to storm the prison
and lynch him Frank breaks out and becomes a fugitive from the law.
At the start of the movie Frank is in a diner where he's spotted by one of the truckers Bob Nielson, Bruno DeSota, who are out looking to capture or kill him. As Bob pulls out a gun on Frank he gets flattens by him to the point where he's out cold for the rest of the movie. Frank takes off with one of the customers in the diner Connie Adair, Dorothy Malone, as a hostage as he drives away with her fast sports car. Frank ends up being on the run for the rest of the movie.
Fast moving and well paced film with Connie at first resisting and doing everything that she can to alert the police about Franks whereabouts. Later when she realizes that he's innocent and Connie feels that he'll be rightly vindicated in the courts just like he told her.
The movie revolves around a major race, the International, that goes from California to Mexico the country where Frank is trying to get away from the perusing police. With Connie entered and at the last moment banned from the race, because the race course had been deemed too dangerous for women drivers to participate on, Frank gets behind the wheel so he can get across the border into Mexico and freedom; without drawing any attention or suspicion from the police and then as they say the race is on.
With the police hot on his tail and with the Mexican border in sight Frank stops his car to save a fellow race car driver, who skidded off the road trying to get ahead of Frank, Frank gives up his chance to get across the border. Connie who's driving behind Frank comes to his as well as the injured race car drivers Faber, Bruce Carslisle, aid and feel guilty for calling the police who are on their way to arrest Frank. At the same time Frank feels that his running away from the law is over and that the courts, whom he trusts, will give him his freedom back.
John Ireland & Dorothy Malone are fine in the leading roles in the movie and the car chases and racing action keep the movie going at a quick pace with an above average story for this kind of action film.
"The Fast and the Furious" is also the first movie made by the then, 1954, fledging AIP: American International Pictures studios. The studios that made a name for themselves over the years for making top-flight and innovative films with up and coming actors and directors who were given their first chance to act in and direct a major motion picture
I paid a buck for this at Walgreen's (tm) and it was a bargain at 3 times the price. This film is nothing like the 2001 film of the same name and that's good. Ireland does a great job being the criminal in this one and Malone is good as the head-smart woman-in-a-man's-world. Ultimately, the ending of the film is ruined by "the Code" which at the time prohibited films from having criminals in sympathetic roles (that's right, Bonnie & Clyde would have been a grindhouse exploiter in 1954). While the film really does look like Corman found a group of racers and decided to build a film around them, this is definitely not a bad film. Spend a dollar and watch this one while your dusting the den.
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