36 user 11 critic

American Hot Wax (1978)

This is the story loosely based on Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed, who introduced rock'n'roll to teenage American radio audiences in the 1950's. Freed was a source of great controversy: ... See full summary »



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

People who liked this also liked... 

Blue Collar (1978)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Three workers, Zeke (Richard Pryor), Jerry (Harvey Keitel) and Smokey (Yaphet Kotto), are working at a car plant and drinking their beers together. One night when they steal away from their... See full summary »

Director: Paul Schrader
Stars: Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto
Gorp (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.7/10 X  

A slapstick comedy about the wacky antics of a group of waiters at a Jewish summer camp in upstate New York.

Director: Joseph Ruben
Stars: Michael Lembeck, Dennis Quaid, Philip Casnoff
Carquake! (1976)
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

This is another story of the secret Coast to Coast auto race across America The only rule is, the first to finish is the winner. Naturally, anyone driving 55 isn't going to win. They'll ... See full summary »

Director: Paul Bartel
Stars: David Carradine, Bill McKinney, Veronica Hamel
Atlantic City (1980)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In a corrupt city, a small-time gangster and the estranged wife of a pot dealer find themselves thrown together in an escapade of love, money, drugs, and danger.

Director: Louis Malle
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Susan Sarandon, Kate Reid
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The story of the life and career of the early rock and roll singer, from his meteoric rise to stardom, to his marriage and untimely death.

Director: Steve Rash
Stars: Gary Busey, Don Stroud, Charles Martin Smith
Diner (1982)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A group of college-age buddies struggle with their imminent passage into adulthood in 1959 Baltimore.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon
Urban Cowboy (1980)
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Bud is a young man from the country who learns about life and love in a Houston bar.

Director: James Bridges
Stars: John Travolta, Debra Winger, Scott Glenn
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Bobby and Rose, two youngsters who are in love, have to run away from home when they are falsely accused to have committed a robbery and an assassination.

Director: Floyd Mutrux
Stars: Paul Le Mat, Dianne Hull, Tim McIntire
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A film account and presentation of the final concert of The Band.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robbie Robertson, Muddy Waters, Neil Young
Gorky Park (1983)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A Moscow police officer investigates a triple homicide and stumbles upon a high-level political conspiracy in the local government.

Director: Michael Apted
Stars: William Hurt, Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy
U Turn (1997)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A man heading to Vegas to pay off his gambling debt before the Russian mafia kills him, is forced to stop in an Arizona town where everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Led by their comedic and pranking leader, Newbomb Turk, the Hollywood Knights car gang raise hell throughout Beverly Hills on Halloween Night, 1965. Everything from drag racing to Vietnam ... See full summary »

Director: Floyd Mutrux
Stars: Tony Danza, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julius Averitt


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


This is the story loosely based on Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed, who introduced rock'n'roll to teenage American radio audiences in the 1950's. 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


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


Drama | History | Music


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 March 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Hot Wax - kuumaa vahaa  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:


See  »

Did You Know?


Chuck Berry: As himself. See more »


The riot at the live Rock n' Roll show in 58', which ultimately led to Freed being fired from WINS Radio in NY, and forced into bankruptcy. Actually, the riot that Freed was accused of starting, but was later cleared of all charges, took place at the Boston Arena, and not the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, like the movie depicts. See more »


[last lines]
Alan Freed: You can stop me, but you're never gonna stop rock & roll!
See more »


Referenced in Death Proof (2007) See more »


Oh Boy!
Written by Del 'Sonny' West, Bill Tilghman and Norman Petty
Performed by Buddy Holly
Courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

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!

13 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
DVD Release? Silverscreen_lover
Tim McIntire was a really good actor oscarflix
HDNet airing/DVD Release michaellax
wasnt she playing someone famous? sjculb3
Buddy Holly... oscarflix
On MoviePix in Canada ohserase
Discuss American Hot Wax (1978) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page