Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...



Recommended Posts

Well, summer is almost upon us, and I like to think back to the time when I would get in my hot rod, pick up my chick, vandalize school property, and perform other acts of juvenile delinquency. Okay, I never did any of that stuff, but there were plenty of movies made in the 50s and early 60s about these subjects, so I'm going to watch a few and get my mind off oil spills, Tiger Woods, and whether or not TCM should be showing Jacques Cousteau. Join in if you like.

High School Caesar (1960)
Directed by O'Dale Ireland
Reggie Perkins (who???) sings the title tune.


John Ashley stars as rich kid Matt Stevens, who is the Don Corleone of his high school. He runs a protection racket, skims money off the high school dances, and sells exams to students too lazy to study. He also manages to get elected Class President, but Al Gore cries foul.

The Principal, who is played by I don't know who, calls newly-elected Ashley into his office to discuss a 'problem' at the school ...  seems some kids are getting roughed up. Hey Mr. Principal ... check out the guys wearing the leather jackets ... that's a clue. Imbecile. You're now qualified to be Superintendent.

Ashley's buddy is named 'Cricket,' whose whining will have you yearning for some pesticides.
Daria Massey, who plays Ashley's girlfriend Lita, regularly wears tight dresses to school. Apparently, there was no dress code back then. She also works for the Principal, so maybe something was going on around the mimeograph machine. Judy Nugent plays Wanda, the new blonde at the school. Cricket wants Matt to 'set him up' with Wanda (I love this 60s talk), but Wanda is more interested in Bob, played by Gary Vinson ... the only recognizable actor in this, aside from Ashley.

Ashley organizes a road race (entrance fee -  two bucks) and puts up his gold coin as the prize. He loses to his rival (the guy he beat for Class Prez), and decides he is gonna get his coin back. Exit the rival. Ashley plays with his coin more often than Captain Queeg plays with his steel balls.

The director goes for some Shakespearean symbolism (I think) at the climax, when virtually everyone turns on Ashley. Not you too, Crickett? Ashley moans. Yes, I can see the resemblance between Ashley and Louis Calhern.

This film isn't half bad. Ashley always seemed better at playing the part of a slick scumbag than an ineffectual hero (see his useless performance in Frankenstein's Daughter ). And we're also spared his singing. Of course, he was more successful as a producer, if you call The A-Team art. The actors are all in their 20s, so they are not too convincing as high school students. Then again, this IS 1960, and students were actually 'retained' back then, before school systems got tired of lawsuits. I suppose it's conceivable that 20-year-olds could still be stuck in high school ... it's the algebra that kills them, I tell you. Which reminds me ... Crickett has difficulty figuring 10 percent of $75. Some things never change.

Oh, I'm no animal expert, but Ashley promises to buy the school a bulldog. Whatever he buys isn't even close.

For you modern schoolkids out there, we used to refer to this as
reading a book in the library.

Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris arrive at spring training.

"Hey, he who smelt it, dealt it."

Today, this would be called "inappropriate touching."

These morons don't quite understand the 1960 meaning of "parking."

S. Z. Sakall makes pancakes for Ashley.

"Repeat after me. It's Toyota's fault."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hot Rod Girl (1956)
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
Music by Alexander Courage (but don't expect any Star Trek themes). It's all jazzy, featuring trumpeter Maynard Ferguson.


Predictable teen flick, perhaps worth a look for the cast.

Cute Lori Nelson plays the title chick. Her boyfriend is played by the hunky John Smith, who achieved fame on the TV western "Laramie" in the 60s. It takes Nelson and Smith 55 minutes before they finally make out, so be patient. Meanwhile, you ladies can ogle at Smith's upper torso.

Smith and his kid brother are motoring down the street in a hot rod, when some clown decides to show off in another hot rod. Smith's brother takes the bait, and ends up dead. Detective Chuck Connors, looking very uncomfortable in a suit and hat, tries to help Smith, but to no avail. Smith has his license suspended (I'm still not sure why), and as a result, withdraws from his buddies Frank Gorshin and Eddie Ryder.

Connors encourages the kids to use a track away from town for their racing, hoping they won't use the streets for their antics. Right. This is like universities building dorms to discourage kids from sleeping in class. I haven't seen driving like this since the last Lindsay Lohan video.

A new kid named Bronc shows up in town. Bronc is played by Mark Andrews (never heard of him). Surprise, surprise, Bronc tries to put the moves on Nelson, but gets nowhere fast. Smith wants to deck the creep, but Bronc wants to settle the issue by racing. Of course, Smith has to decline since he has no license. So Bronc challenges Frank Gorshin to the obligatory game of chicken. Later on, Bronc tries to run Smith and Nelson off the road, and a bicyclist ends up buying the farm. Smith is blamed, but Detective Connors manages to clear him by obtaining evidence illegally (well, maybe it was legal in 1956). In the climactic fight scene, Smith kicks the **** out of Andrews, while Connors is out cold on the floor. (Memo to you cop wannabes - if you're going to accuse someone of manslaughter and then hold up evidence in front of him, don't turn your back on the guy.)

Gorshin does his Cagney impression. Andrews looks something like Rock Hudson, John Gavin, and Rory Calhoun all rolled into one ... except much shorter. Character actors Russell Thorson and Dabbs Greer have supporting roles. Connors towers over everyone (except Smith, who looks like Val Kilmer on steroids), making Chuck look like Gandalf to everyone else's hobbits. Ryder spouts 50s vernacular which requires subtitles for modern audiences. In one exchange with his girlfriend, whose name is L.P., he moans "Long Play, that's enough surface noise. Take it off the turntable, doll."

The film's title is inappropriate, since the "Hot Rod Girl" never drives a hot rod. So you'll have to wait for Dragstrip Girl (it's on my list).

The Chairman of Toyota delivers his annual report.

Gorshin does Burt Lancaster eating a sandwich.

The first sign that your boyfriend may be the Boston Strangler.

A short-lived 1950s fad called "Ball Riding."

"Look, don't let this cheap suit fool you. I don't plan on being a cop all my life.
Now, has anybody seen my rifle?"

Lori Nelson becomes the 200th member of my fan club.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=patful wrote:}{quote}

> Great fun, thanks again. I'm just sorry I missed out on the days when teens proved their manhood by racing. Or maybe nobody challenged me because I drove a VW.



I remember that back in the 60s, a convertible VW was called a "pregnant roller skate..."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*I remember that back in the 60s, a convertible VW was called a "pregnant roller skate..."* - VX


I just called my hardtop "Ethel", after the Alice Cooper song. :-)


Edited by: patful on May 15, 2010 11:21 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dragstrip Girl (1957)
Directed by Edward L. Cahn

Exactly what you would expect from American International Pictures ... cars, chicks, fights, and another Elvis impersonation by John Ashley.

Fay Spain plays the title babe, which is more than enough reason to watch this flick. She rides her hot rod into town, and immediately encounters Ashley and Steve Terrell in their own set of wheels. They drag down the street, until the cops get wind of this. Ashley and Terrell hide Spain in their garage, and the inevitable "I saw her first" starts, leading to a split between the two buddies. Tensions escalate as Spain can't decide which guy to date, so she plays them both. Her parents want her to choose Ashley, because his old man is loaded. However, they haven't heard Ashley sing.

Police Lieutenant Russ Bender wants the kids to form a car club so they won't drag race along the city streets (I think we've gone through this idea before). Ashley turns progressively more into a heel through the course of the film, leading to a "chicken run" (I think we've gone through this idea before). Just before the big race, Ashley manages to implicate Terrell in a hit and run. There's always a big race. There's never a small or medium-sized race. Always a big race. How come there is never a big final exam? "Hey man, just me and you, and the geometry final. Be there or be square."

Spain looks sexy, so no one should care about her acting talent, or lack of same. She gets to drive a hot rod in a dress and high heels. Trust me, that hot rod looks silly in a dress and high heels. Frank Gorshin plays Terrell's buddy, but doesn't do any impersonations. However, he does sing with a tablecloth over his body and a mop on his head: "She's my dragstrip girl with a streamlined chassis, got a set of pipes and a grill that's classy, Draggggggggggg-strip babyyyyyyy." Yeah. Almost makes one yearn for Ashley's singing. Almost. Gorshin also orders a slice of pizza with a scoop of chocolate ice cream on it. Hurl. Blonde bombshell Judy Bamber plays Gorshin's girlfriend, and has some good comic scenes, especially during the fistfight between Ashley and Terrell - she can't figure out which one to root for, and Gorshin keeps reminding her who is supposed to win. Tito Vuolo plays the owner of a pizzeria where the kids hang out. Vuolo's chef's hat looks like a misplaced extra large prophylactic.

John Ashley and Steve Terrell compete in the "Worst Hat of 1957" contest.

"Ok kids, you've had your fun. Now somebody unlock these handcuffs."

The special effects crew about to film a scene for Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Ashley plays a tune on the Amazing Colossal Man's tongue depresser.

"Oh, this? It's just a skidmark."

Judy Bamber auditions for The Jazz Singer.

Eewwwwwwwww, that's her father she's kissing. Eewwwwwwwww.

"Mama Mia, that's a spicy meataball."

Another short-lived 50s fad ... the "banana split."

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I am left to wonder- what would teenage exploitation films from the late 1950s through most of the 1960s be without John Ashley?


Considerable more boring, no doubt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=lzcutter wrote:}{quote}

> Scsu,


> I am left to wonder- what would teenage exploitation films from the late 1950s through most of the 1960s be without John Ashley?


> Considerable more boring, no doubt.


Good question. In any event, Ashley will again take the spotlight in the upcoming classic Motorcycle Gang.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I met Sam Arkoff back in the late 1970s when I was at film school. I met him at one of the entrance gates. He was driving one of those beautiful, old convertible caddies that was more a yacht than a car and it had fins!


We drove across campus to where he was to be honored. He had a cigar in the side of his mouth, talked with a great accent and said the secret to his success was "good looking guys and women who were stacked, you can't go wrong with that combo."


Words he lived by, no doubt.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=lzcutter wrote:}{quote}

>said the secret to his success was "good looking guys and women who were stacked, you can't go wrong with that combo."


With the exception of Frank Gorshin, that pretty much describes the cast of Dragstrip Girl. Yes, the guy knew what he was doing. That must have been an intesting drive with him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Motorcycle Gang (1957)
Directed by Edward L. Cahn

Pretty much a ripoff of Dragstrip Girl, released a few months afterwards, with the same director, writer, and unfortunately some of the original cast (John Ashley, Steve Terrell, Russ Bender). This is the first time I really noticed how much Ashley acts like a chicken. He moves his head and shoulders like he is pecking for food. Terrell's hair is lighter, so apparently we are supposed to be fooled into thinking he is another actor. No such luck. Unknown Anne Neyland replaces Fay Spain, which leads to no improvement in acting. Neyland looks like Tori Spelling, but with a better body. Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer is thrown in as Terrell's buddy ... apparently Frank Gorshin was on assignment somewhere.

Terrell and Switzer are breezing down the street on their motorcycles, when Neyland and another chick (also on motorcycles) decide to play some games with them (see Dragstrip Girl ). Break out the rear projection. The fuzz give chase, but the bikers easily blow them off. Neyland goes headfirst over her handlebars, then does not like the way Terrell resuscitates her. I smell a budding romance. About thirteen minutes into the film, Ashley shows up on his bike (I knew you were all waiting for this). Seems Terrell and Ashley had a falling out ... leading to Ashley spending 15 months in stir, while Terrell was placed on probation. Now Ashley's back (and you're gonna be in trouble). It takes all of one minute or so for Ashley and Terrell to duke it out. Neyland can't decide which guy she likes more so she plays them both (see Dragstrip Girl ). Meanwhile, Russ Bender, playing a cop (see Dragstrip Girl ) meets with the "motorcycle club" he has formed with Terrell; this, to keep the streets safe.

For most of the film, rigor mortis sets in. Nothing goes on, and the Terrell-Ashley-Newland triangle is pretty boring. The filmmakers bring in Jean Moorhead (Playmate of the Month, October, 1955) as another possible love interest, which makes this a rectangle. Moorhead looks good as long as she is not in shorts. Her thighs are bigger than Hulk Hogan's. This was one year after she starred in the trashfest The Violent Years (to be reviewed in the future), and just slightly before she had a bit in The Amazing Colossal Man as the babe in the bathtub.

Eventually, Ashley challenges Terrell to a road race (see Dragstrip Girl ), and manages to spew motor oil all over the place (British Petroleum was the technical advisor) so Terrell goes sliding off a bridge. Somehow, Terrell is unharmed -  his acting ability is the only casualty. Now the big race is coming up (see Dragstrip Girl ). In a switch, Ashley is not in this race. No, he and his three amigos are boozing it up and watching the proceedings, when they decide to have a little fun. So they go to a nearby town and terrorize the owner and patrons at a cafe. Oh, I'm sooooo scared. They are so tough. (Trivia fans take note; the short thin bald hostage is played by Paul Blaisdell, who designed many of the monsters in Roger Corman's epics, my favorite being the carrot on steroids from It ConqueredThe World. ) Cop Bender, who is monitoring the motorcycle race, gets the police broadcast of a problem at the cafe, so he stops the race, enlists the aid of Terrell and Switzer, and off they go. Apparently, it doesn't occur to Bender to call for more cops ... he assumes a non-actor and a Little Rascal will suffice to quell the disturbance.

The climactic fight should have been exciting; instead, it's over in about a minute as the toughs quickly wimp out. Terrell scores with Neyland (see Dragstrip Girl ) and Switzer gets a pie in his face.

In what may be the only decent line of the film, old pro Raymond Hatton, as Neyland?'uncle, says "Oh, it's a purty night. You smell that alfalfa?" Somehow "you smell that buckwheat" would not have gone over too well.

Ashley and Terrell fight over Fay Spain, until they realize she's not in this film.

Hop Sing attempts to throw Ashley off the Ponderosa.

After years of playing old geezers, Raymond Hatton finally gets some action.

"That's when I fell for the leader of the pack."

Ponch and Jon finally get a few chips off their shoulders.

A short-lived 50s fad called "Musical Motorcycle Chairs."

Alfalfa is stunned to discover that Chubby (left) and Spanky (center) have become chicks.

Ashley terrorizes the hostages by taking out his Slinky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



But ya GOTTA lay off the snide comments about carrots on steroids. There's NOTHING wrong with that!! I mean, he even figgers out how to do setup short-wave radio sets to the not-quite-Italian wild west! Even if he was on EPO or just blood-doping, there was NOTHING wrong with that.


At the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=patful wrote:}{quote}

> Phew! Before that image loaded, I was terrified at the thought of a Wendy O. Williams poster. That was *Reform School Girls* , wasn't it?


Yes, and you won't see me review that. Even I have standards, low though they may be.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reform School Girl (1957)
Directed by Edward Bernds

What can we learn from this film? Before getting into a car with Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, ask if it's stolen. Before getting into your bed, check to make sure Yvette Vickers has not placed a snake in it. Before turning your back on Sally Kellerman, make sure she is not holding a baseball bat. Before getting beaten up by everyone for squealing, ask if you're going to get beat up whether you squeal or not. (If the answer is yes, you may as well squeal.) Before signing on to do this picture, fire your agent.

Gloria Castillo plays the title character, a nice girl living with her **** of an aunt and step-uncle, played creepily by Jack Kruschen (the uncle, not the aunt). Castillo goes out for a drive with her friends, unaware that the driver (Byrnes) is a thief, a scumbag, a cad, and future sidekick of Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Roger Smith. After Byrnes tosses Luana Anders and Castillo's date out of the car, he proceeds to mow down a pedestrian. He heads for the hills, leaving Castillo holding the bag.

Speaking of bags (in particular, old ones), Castillo is sent off to the Hastings School for Girls, run by some of the oldest and/or chubbiest dames you will ever see. The school's head is played by Helen Wallace, and the matron is played by Dorothy Crehan. I have no idea if Crehan is related to the character actor Joseph Crehan ... then again, Dorothy Crehan may be Joseph Crehan in drag.

Castillo more or less manages to fit in. Meanwhile, the new teacher, played by Ross Ford, who is also a practicing psychologist, has some difficulty adjusting to the school. Let's see ... a school full of girls (well, there are about ten anyway, including one who looks like Jane Powell) and one man ... what could possibly go wrong here? He asks his class to name the decisive battle of the Civil War. "Bunker Hill," is the snide reply. Close. At least they have the country correct. This would earn an A- in today's classroom.

After Castillo and another girl are caught smooching with a couple of locals in a barn, Ford suggests that the school sponsor a dance, so everything will be out in the open. This is not one of Ford's better ideas. Meanwhile, back at 77 Sunset Strip, Byrnes, who wants to make sure Castillo keeps her trap shut, gets one of his bimbos (a woman listed in the credits as "Blonde") to drop a dime on Anders. Anders winds up at the school and blames Castillo for turning her in. This development suddenly makes the film interesting, even though it's almost over. Castillo is put in solitary after stabbing Kellerman on the arm with scissors. Anders manages to sneak a call out to Byrnes, saying Castillo is ready to spill everything. Byrnes heads for the school, determined to shut Castillo up for good.

The supporting cast is interesting, I must admit. Besides Kellerman (who towers over everyone) and Anders in their film debuts, we get to see perennial town tramp Yvette Vickers without much makeup, and veteran Thomas Jackson (the guy who gunned down Little Caesar ) in a bit part as a judge. The Statue of Liberty appears unbilled. And if you've been dying to see Jack Kruschen in an undershirt and suspenders, your wish has come true.

This local production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" never got off the ground.

Helen Wallace relaxes with a joint between takes.

"I'm rubber and you're glue, and everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you."

Helen Wallace pulls a shiv on Ross Ford, while the Statue of Liberty looks on.

A short-lived 50s fad ..."driving side-saddle."

Helen Wallace pulls scissors on the director, while Ross Ford
and the Statue of Liberty look on.

"I know what you're thinking. 'Did he comb his hair six times or only five?'
Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
  • Create New...