14 user 5 critic

The California Kid (1974)

A deranged desert town sheriff has a murderous habit of forcing speeders to their deaths, until a young man with a souped-up hotrod arrives to possibly end it.


Richard T. Heffron


Richard Compton




Cast overview, first billed only:
Martin Sheen ... Michael McCord
Vic Morrow ... Sheriff Roy Childress
Michelle Phillips ... Maggie
Stuart Margolin ... Deputy
Nick Nolte ... Buzz Stafford
Janit Baldwin ... Sissy
Gary Morgan ... Lyle Stafford
Frederic Downs ... Judge J.A. Hooker
Don Mantooth Don Mantooth ... Jack (as Donald Mantooth)
Joe Estevez ... Don McCord (as Joseph Estevez)
Britt Leach ... Johnny
Norman Bartold ... Howard
Barbara Collentine ... Edith
Michael Richardson ... Charley
Gavan O'Herlihy ... Tom


A sadistic small-town sheriff has a habit of deliberately forcing speeders to their deaths on the mountain roads leading into town. The brother of one of the victims rolls into town in his hot rod to investigate his brother's death. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In this town a speeding ticket is a death sentence


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Don's ride was a 1951 Ford coupe. Michael's ride was a 1934 Ford three-window coupe. The car that Lyle drove, and was subsequently killed in was a 1955 Mercury Montclair. See more »


When the Kid is first arrested, he tells the sheriff that his speedometer is off because of his bigger tires. Bigger tires would cause a speedometer to read low not high. See more »


Howard: Your Honor, I plead nolo contendere.
Judge J.A. Hooker: That's the same as guilty. That will be a one hundred dollar fine or 10 days in the county jail.
See more »

User Reviews

Better Than Your Average Made For TV Movie
21 October 2013 | by Ed-ShullivanSee all my reviews

The executive producer Paul Mason was very fortunate to have acquired such a talented group of actors for this made for TV movie back in 1974. You won't get any better than Nick Nolte, Martin Sheen and Vic Morrow joining forces in this low budget movie. I quite enjoyed the drama and the action that The California Kid presented using the small town of Clarksberg as the back drop for the movie in 1958.

The Sheriff Roy Childress is played by Vic Morrow whose salary is drawn by how much the judge can fine the unsuspecting visitors who go over the posted speed limit even by 5 miles per hour. And if the speedsters try and avoid capture, well Vic Morrow just runs them off the cliff as they attempt to allude capture and make the state border.

A lot of the interaction takes place at the local town restaurant where the waitress Maggie played by Michelle Phillips serves the best hot coffee in town. Then one day a hot rodder named Michael McCord played by Martin Sheen comes driving in to town. We soon find out that Mr. McCord is not in town by accident, but seeking answers as to how is brother died falling over a cliff outside of town while driving with a friend.

Martin Sheen is such a super star that he can take a basic script and elevate the movie from a 2 star to a 4 star rating by himself. Adding to the star quality you have Nick Nolte as the local mechanic Buzz Stafford whose younger brother also recently died at the hands of the mean Sheriff Roy Childress.

The movie will keep you wishing for revenge for the young murder victims and that Sheriff Roy Childress will get his comeuppance. The late model 1950's circa cars ridden by Sheriff Roy and by Michael McCord are awesome to look at and watch during the speed racing scenes.

The epilogue leaves the fans with the feeling that justice has been served. How? Well you will just have to watch the movie for yourself. You won't be disappointed in this 1970's made for TV movie. Keep in mind that both Nick Nolte and Martin Sheen went on to the big screen and starred in some of the biggest box office movies over the next three decades. We were lucky to have them both on our television sets starring in The California Kid.

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Release Date:

25 September 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

California Kid See more »

Filming Locations:

Ojai, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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