6.9/10
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38 user 11 critic

American Hot Wax (1978)

The story of Alan Freed, the pioneering disc jockey who was instrumental in introducing and popularizing rock 'n' roll in the 1950s.

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(screenplay), (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
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Carl Weaver ...
Member of The Chesterfields (as Carl Earl Weaver)
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Sam Harkness ...
Arnold McCuller ...
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Moosie Drier ...
John Lehne ...
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Jack Edward Ellis ...
Richard Forbes ...
Stephen Pearlman ...
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Storyline

This is the story loosely based on Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed, who introduced rock 'n' roll to teenage American radio audiences in the 1950s. Freed was a source of great controversy: criticized by conservatives for corrupting youth with the "devil's music"; hated by racists for promoting African American music for white consumption; persecuted by law enforcement officials and finally brought down by the "payola" scandals. Written by Martin Lewison <lewison+@pitt.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

1959. New York City. The battleground was Rock and Roll. It was the beginning of an era. You shoulda been there.

Genres:

Drama | History | Music

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

17 March 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Hot Wax - kuumaa vahaa  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of a number of 1970s movies that looked at the music of the 1950s. Others included That'll Be the Day (1973), Grease (1978) and The Idolmaker (1980). See more »

Goofs

Buddy Holly's birthday (7 September) fell on Labor Day in 1959, so Artie would have had the day off from school anyway. See more »

Quotes

Alan Freed: Hey, look. If they took it all away tomorrow, we'd be even. No we wouldn't. We'd be way ahead.
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Connections

Referenced in Cotton Candy (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Great Balls of Fire
(uncredited)
Written by Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer
Performed by Jerry Lee Lewis
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User Reviews

 
This is rock'n'roll!
12 November 1999 | by (Olympia, WA) – See all my reviews

While a lot of movies have tried to show what the early rock'n'roll era was like -- American Hot Wax is the only movie that showed us what it FELT like.

Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and groups put together for the movie -- The Chesterfields (as Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers), The Delights (as The Chantels), and Timmy and the Tulips (as The Fleetwoods) -- Man Oh Man -- Wowee! These last three groups were in some ways better then the originals -- if that's possible. Check out those "Dee-Lites!"

What music, what a house band! What a recreation of an early rock'n'roll show in a movie theater. Hot Wax is amazing!

The Freed character -- Somewhat sanitized, but dynomite! Jay Leno and Fran Dresher -- wonderful! Lorrane Newman was a knock out! Every character is perfect. Teenage Louise's parents -- real or what?

Look for period details like the manager's (of the Laverne Baker-like singer) shades. Like the lable on the Little Richard record in the film's opening scene.

In a recent TV movie about Alan Freed, the character played a Little Richard record on the radio. The camera focused on the turntable. There was a generic record playing. Phony baloney. I changed the channel.

In American Hot Wax, the record was spinning on a turntable in the foreground. It was a Little Richard record all right -- and it was on the Specialty lable!

We originally saw American Hot Wax at the drive-in back when it first came out. Somehow it seemed fitting. I now have the sound track and a video copy of the movie from an HBO showing. Someday, hopefully, this great film will be commercially available on video. You have got to see this movie!

There is a scene in the radio station where the Program Director asks Freed why he has to play his monitor speakers so loud. "Because they know when you are listening," answers Freed. How true. Crank it up Alan!


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