While on a business trip just before Christmas, Tom Phillips gets into a car accident, which was caused by the reckless driving of the other car involved. Although Tom suffered no paralysis...
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While on a business trip just before Christmas, Tom Phillips gets into a car accident, which was caused by the reckless driving of the other car involved. Although Tom suffered no paralysis from his back injury, he did come out of the accident with a chronic back problem which results in him not being able to continue with his current work, and a mental block having anything to do with the accident, including Christmas music, driving in general and the sounds of screeching tires and breaking glass. The Phillips - Tom, his wife Peg, and their two children, teenager Tina and pre-teen Jamie - end up moving from their Boston home and buying a motel in Mayville in the California desert. Tom would be physically able to do the work required running a motel, and the dry heat is good for his back. But as they approach Mayville, they encounter a bunch of reckless hot rodders named Duke, Ernie and Gloria. Since Tom scolds them about their reckless behavior, they decide to make the Phillips' ... Written by
Given a title like this, it's a cinch no one will take this road movie seriously except for a few of us who hate seeing a decent family being harrassed by some mindless hot rodders intent on making dangerous moves in speeding cars for no apparent reason. Later, though, the script gives them a reason and the mayhem continues throughout with the man, wife and children being subjected to dangerous maneuvers by the teen-age punks until he manages to turn the tables on them in an unexpected way.
It's a pity Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain couldn't have found themselves a better script and story. By today's standards, the dialogue is rather unrealistic and corny--and the preachy element that Andrews is forced to utter to the kids seems a bit theatrical and pointless. It's the kind of movie you might expect to find as a B&W cheapie at a drive-in--but here it's wrapped up in MGM technicolor although modestly produced.
Not a serious indictment of hot rodders nor more than a standard melodrama that seems somewhat dated in its attitudes. Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain do what they can with stereotyped roles but neither is seen at their best. Crain is flatteringly photographed and looks as lovely as ever while Andrews seems to have gone through some hard times in his personal life that give his tight-lipped demeanor a worn look.
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