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Hot Rod Gang (1958)

Directed by Lew Landers


Someone had the brilliant idea to make John Ashley stretch as an actor. Instead, I pulled a muscle trying to keep from tossing my cookies.


The film opens with Ashley in his hot road, challenged by Steve Drexel in his hot rod. Ashley goes through a puddle and splashes an old geezer, played by Lester Dorr as an old fusspot named Philpott. Dorr yells for a cop. Russ Bender, who usually plays a motorcycle cop, plays a motorcycle cop.  Bender questions two other witnesses, a father and daughter played by Doodles Weaver and Jody Fair. Fair seems to think she can recognize the culprit.  Somehow they end up in Ashley’s hot rod hangout, and Ashley hides out in a closet.  Had he stayed there, the film would have been mercifully over. Instead, he sings. And sings. And sings some more.  His finger-snapping, head-wagging, faux-Elvis style of singing is the pits. So the charges against him rise from vehicular assault to impersonating an entertainer.


Ashley turns out to be a rich kid named John Abernathy III. He lives with his two aunts, dons a pair of glasses, and pretends to be the studious type. Coincidentally, Dorr, Weaver, and Fair show up at his house for some pre-arranged meeting to fix up Ashley with Fair.  Ashley tries to impress everyone with his violin skills, but his wisecracking maid, played by Claire Du Brey, will have none of it.


“I’ve been wrestling with Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E-flat minor,” Ashley informs everyone.

“Mendelssohn lost,” Du Brey responds.


Fair recognizes Ashley, but, of course, isn’t going to turn him in.  She wants to hear more of his singing, so they sneak off to the hangout where Ashley bores us some more.


In a subplot, Ashley’s gang needs money to build a hot rod for the big race.  Fair informs everyone she knows singer Gene Vincent, and offers to ask him to put on a show.  Vincent is impressed with Ashley’s singing ability (apparently Vincent was well-paid for the part).  But Ashley doesn’t want to go on television because he might get recognized. So Fair makes up him with a beard and a beret. If you ever wondered how Fidel Castro would look in Paris, this is your chance to find out.  Ashley is an instant hit as singer “Jackson Dalrymple.” If you are keeping score, that’s three roles for Ashley.   In a running gag, Ashley’s aunts see him sneaking into the house with his beard on, and think it’s the ghost of John Abernathy I. I say it’s a running gag because every time it happened, I got the runs.


In another subplot, Drexel is stealing hot rod parts and trying to frame Ashley. There is the inevitable rumble at the end (which is really just a good excuse to interrupt Ashley singing yet again), Ashley is cleared, and everybody dances to a recording of Ashley.


If you fast-forward past the singing, you can get through this opus in about 60 minutes.


This is just a mishmash of comedy, music (mostly bad), racing, and non-action. Vincent sings a few songs, and he’s better than Ashley, but that’s not saying much. Fair is average. Character actor Dub Taylor has a few moments playing some part which escaped me. Maureen Arthur sings something called “Choo Choo Cha Poochie,” which, I believe when translated, means “Hey boys, get a load of these.”  On the other hand, Ashley actually does a decent job with his multiple personalities. Usually, he’s just dull; however, here, he manages to rise to the level of mediocrity. Perhaps this film should have been called The Three Faces of Ashley.  But then, it would be the members of the audience, and not the star, who would need psychiatric help.




If you were sitting next to a clown dressed like this, you’d look disgusted too.




Maureen Arthur shares a few pointers with the crowd.




I was rooting for these two old crones to pump some arsenic into Ashley.




Ashley auditions for the lead in Humoresque. He lost; we won.




A short-lived 50s fad – “Raggedy Ashley” dolls.




Senator Rand Paul’s singing debut.


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  • 4 weeks later...

Dang it! I missed this last month. Maureen Arthur's coming after you for picking possibly the worst screen capture of her career. Looks like a drag queen! :D

Thanks, Rich. Looking forward to Teddy Bear.

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Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965)

Directed by Joseph Cates


I can’t figure out if this is one of the greatest cult films of all time, or a pile of bat guano.  You may just feel a little icky when this thing is over.


Sal Mineo plays a busboy at a discotheque.  (For the youngsters out there, a discotheque was where people made the “scene” in the 1960s.)  Juliet Prowse also works there, and is getting obscene phone calls. It’s pretty obvious to anyone with an IQ over 10 who is making the calls, but I’ll leave you in suspense. Enter Detective Jan Murray (yes, the game-show host) who takes more than a passing interest in Prowse.  This is the plot in a nutshell, but there is plenty of bizarre stuff going on in this film.


Sal has a sister who is a little “slow,” to put it nicely.  She witnessed something traumatic as a child which weirded her out.  Unfortunately, the version I watched cut out most of this event, but judging by viewer comments, the missing scene involves Sal and an older woman (probably his mother).  Ewwwwwwwwwwww.  All this has something to do with a teddy bear, but it’s not worth mentioning.


Sal has issues. He wanders the streets of NYC, and checks out the adult bookstores and movie houses (you know, all that stuff that Rudy Giuliani got rid of). There are some incredible shots of seamy NYC nightlife, and some scenes which bring back memories, such as a billboard for “Castro Convertibles.”


Murray has issues as well.  We learn his wife was murdered and mutilated, and now he is on a mission to lock up all the scum he can lay his hands on. 


The dialogue is surprisingly frank.  When Murray lets Prowse stay at his house, Murray’s daughter asks him “is she a hooker?”  Later, when Sal sees his sister wearing makeup and a dress, he says she looks like a _____ (rhymes with “more”).  The most powerful scene is one in which Elaine Stritch, as the disco manager, attempts to console Prowse by holding her and saying “put your arms around me and cry … that’s a baby, that’s a sweet baby... that’s my baby …,” until Prowse pulls back. In 1965, I wouldn’t have gotten this, but now all I can say is Holy Crap!


The title track is sugary-sweet with violins galore, and sounds like something John Barry would have composed for a James Bond movie.  The lyrics are too much: “Who killed teddy bear? Doesn’t anybody care?” (No.) However, much of the score is actually decent, and I even liked some of the songs played in the disco.  And speaking of the disco, most of the dancers looked like they were having seizures.


If you like Sal, you get plenty of shots of him in briefs, tight bathing trunks, and sweating while pumping iron at the gym. For Prowse fans, we see her in various states of undress, shaking her bod on the dance floor, and swimming in a semi-skimpy bathing suit.  Murray wears a suit. Frank Campanella plays a cop, and a very young Daniel J. Travanti plays a deaf-mute bouncer.


This is probably something TCM should show so we can all get in on the discussion. I guess we could put all the good comments in one hand, and all the **** in the other, and see which piles up the fastest.




Truman Capote makes the disco scene.






Which one of these books seems out of place?





“You’re inviting me to play “Treasure Hunt?”




A rare still from the failed television series Hill Street Bruise.





Ladies, this is for you … well, maybe some of the guys will enjoy it too.





A short-lived 1960s fad – “pretend” hula hoops.


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I hope TCM takes Patful's entry in "Suggest a Movie" to heart. Would love to see the discussion that ensues after it airs!


By the way, you owe me another keyboard. Maybe, you should just buy them in bulk?



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Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965)


I can’t figure out if this is one of the greatest cult films of all time, or a pile of bat guano.  


I saw it down at the Film Forum -- twice -- a few years ago. It's great, not the greatest, certainly not bat guano. As a native New Yorker, I particularly like the pre-Disnified shots scenes of the old Times Square, which I remember from my youth. Great cast! Best line: the **** Elaine Stritch character saying to Juliet Prowse, who lends her her mink: "I dig fur."


Note: I can't believe my use of the word S a p p h i c was censored! LZ please take note!

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Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965)

Directed by Joseph Cates



. It’s pretty obvious to anyone with an IQ over 10 who is making the calls, but I’ll leave you in suspense.

















Thank you, I love suspense. (I scored 9.889 on my last IQ test which affords me all kinds of suspense these days.)



Rich, I've been enjoying this thread for so long. Wonderful, humorous reviews, and the captions are so funny, often hilarious. A truely classic thread.

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Thank you, I love suspense. (I scored 9.889 on my last IQ test which affords me all kinds of suspense these days.)



Rich, I've been enjoying this thread for so long. Wonderful, humorous reviews, and the captions are so funny, often hilarious. A truely classic thread.

You said that exactly right laffite (except that IQ part LOL)It's always a pleasure to read any of Rich's posts and threads. They are worthwhile and hilarious.

Yes, truly CLASSIC and intelligent. We're so lucky to have Rich on these bds. to share his great sense of humor and his knowledge of films. His references to other films and actors and actresses within his reviews and captions are impressive besides being so clever and witty. Great job Rich :)

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I'll "Third" this sentiment here!


Hilarious stuff indeed, and I especially enjoy Rich's "inside jokes" which reference lesser known movie trivia, and thus is perfectly catered to this audience of film buffs around here.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Teen-Age Crime Wave (1955)

Directed by Fred Sears


No teenagers, no crime wave. No good.


The film opens in a bar, where a chick (Molly McCart) manages to convince an old bald fat guy that she will do anything, anywhere, anytime, for anybody. Once outside, McCart’s boyfriend (Tommy Cook) mugs the loser, and McCart gets off a great line:  “I saw his w a d. He’s loaded.”


Accompanying Cook is another guy (Jimmy Ogg … and of course, we all remember “Odd Ogg”) and another chick, played by Sue England. England is in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time. Now I’ve always wondered – can somebody be in the right place at the wrong time, or the wrong place at the right time?  Or is it just the right place at the right time? And does anybody really know what time it is?


McCart and England get busted, but Cook and Ogg escape. England gets plenty of support from her mother, who says “you were out with those hoodlums. No decent girl would be seen with them. … I don’t know how your father will ever face his business friends again.”  Thanks Mom.  Did you also poison my cornflakes this morning?


McCart and England are held over in Juvenile Hall, where they get into a good cat fight, although the punches and slaps were probably dubbed in by the same guy who did sound effects for The Three Stooges. Then it’s off to an “industrial school” with a cop and some old crone of a police matron. Along the way, Cook waylays the car and the three skedaddle, ending up at a farmhouse owned by James Bell and another old crone. From here, we are subjected to below average suspense, even when Bell’s son (played by a wooden Frank Griffin) arrives home from the University of Hay, or, as it’s more commonly known, Hay U.  Cook provides more hysterical dialogue after McCart puts on a pair of Griffin’s jeans:  “Hey, hero, how do you like her in your pants?”


Eventually, the cops locate the hideout, and there is the usual car chase.  This one ends at Griffith Park Observatory, which, as we all know, is where a rising star met his movie death in one of the most important films of the 50s. That’s right, it was here that the Amazing Colossal Man (in War of the Colossal Beast) got offed in his XXXXXXXXXX-large Depends©.


Cook is semi-menacing as a semi-psycho, which suits his semi-acting. McCart looks a little too much like a boy, so she did nothing for me. England, on the other hand, is decent looking, and the filmmakers had the good sense (even though it made no sense) to show her in a bathing suit photo alongside mug shots of Cook and McCart. Bell, whom you may recall from The Leopard Man, spends most of his time reading the Bible and wondering how in God’s name he wound up in this piece o’ crap.




With 20th Century Fox studios hitting the skids, Darryl Zanuck is forced to moonlight.





“No no, girls, when I say ‘let’s take it from the top, I don’t mean …’”





Another smoking-related death.





What five different things are these people staring at?



“Jeez, lady, aren’t you done hurling yet?”




“Hello, Police?  I want to report a strange woman next door who keeps waving to me.”


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Another success here, Rich!


(...btw, if ya really wanna know what time is it, don't bother asking Robert Lamm or anyone else in that musical group named after The Windy City...they don't know either!)

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Dear Rich,


I think the time has come to just have a truck load of keyboards delivered to my house so I can easily replace the last one you sent when I spray Diet Coke all over it while reading your great reviews!


It would probably save us both time and trouble.


Hope you agree.


One of your best fans,




:)  :P  :lol:  :rolleyes:

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  • 1 month later...

Hallucination Generation (1966)

Directed by Edward Mann


The director must have been hallucinating if he thought anyone (besides me) would watch this film.


Some guy named Bill decides to hang out in the Island of Ibiza. There, he meets all sorts of weirdos, including a German girl who, oddly, seems to be speaking with a French accent.  And everybody seems to hang out at George Montgomery’s house, smoking weed all day.  Montgomery claims he is doing some kind of scientific research. What he should have been doing was firing his agent. Bill and the German girl get hitched, and at the wedding party, we are treated to Montgomery wearing some kind of plant in his hair, another guy dressed like Julius Caesar, and Steve Rowland singing a few songs.  Trust me, the plant on Montgomery’s hair is the most entertaining of the three items. Eventually Bill and his fraulein split up, and Bill ends up at Montgomery’s pad with the other losers. Montgomery slips Bill some acid, and says, “This will smooth out all that fear in you … all that hate … turn it into something like purple, something like velvet. It’ll be like walking down Fifth Avenue … on your head.”  Then we get treated to about  a 10-minute acid trip, complete with color shots and Montgomery wearing cannibal paint.


Bill and some other clown get suckered into robbing an old guy, who gets killed in the process. Bill’s partner tries to pin the blame on Bill. Bill wanders around the streets and collapses. A guy in a suit gives Bill a cigarette and invites him to his house. The guy lets Bill freshen up in his bathroom.  Then he offers to “help” Bill, but Bill takes off.  Draw your own conclusions. Bill ends up at a church, the cops arrest every American in the film, and the credits roll.


This has to be one of the most boring movies of all time.  Danny Stone, as Bill, narrates most of the film as if he were in a trance.  The sound was out of sync, and the mix of Spanish and American accents made me think I was watching one of those Mexican wrestling films, like Samson vs the Vampire Women (which was a whole lot better than this piece of crap).  I have no idea why Montgomery did this film, unless he was vacationing in Spain at the time and needed to kill a few hours. Most of his dialogue is incoherent:  “This universe is a jawbreaker … a sourball … lemon flavor, round and hard.”  Maybe after a few acid trips, I’ll think the same way. To paraphrase Timothy Leary, “turn off, tune out, drop dead.”




Didn’t I see this dame on “The Facts of Life?”





Montgomery shows off his cleavage.





A local white trash audition for The Bride of Frankenstein.





Why does this remind me of a Cialis© commercial?





A rare still from the German avant-garde film Two Buns in Search of a Frankfurter.





“Come on Maximillian, try again. The words are hunter, hare, field …”


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  • 3 months later...

The Big Night (1960)

Directed by Sidney Salkow


Randy Sparks (yes, he of the New Christy Minstrels) plays a too-old-for-the-part delinquent high-schooler who thinks he’s found his ticket to the big time (and trust me, it ain’t his singing). Sparks and girlfriend Venetia Stevenson are strolling along a bridge one evening when a getaway car comes roaring by.  The occupants throw something in the water (not the script, unfortunately). A few moments later, there is a gun battle with the cops, in which the bad guys manage to stand out in the open so they can get gunned down.  Detective Paul Langton, in charge of the mayhem, orders a search for the 200 grand that the robbers copped. Sparks overhears this, and comes to the brilliant conclusion that the money must have been what was thrown into the water. Instead of informing the cops (which would have taken even more intelligence, and shortened the movie to about 8 minutes), he decides to find the moolah and stash it somewhere.  He finds a valise floating around, and hides it in a junkyard, where, coincidentally, this film should have been stashed as well.


The next morning, Sparks is reamed out by his dad (Dick Foran) for coming home late, messing up at school, and acting in this movie.  Foran likes to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and walk around in suspenders.  He also likes hamburger meat, since there is an extended scene where he i) reminds Sparks to pick up some hamburger meat, ii) yells at Sparks for forgetting to pick up the hamburger meat, iii) goes out for the hamburger meat while Sparks is being lectured by school counselor House Peters (sorry, that name always cracks me up), and iv) returns with one pound of hamburger meat.


Stevenson wants Sparks to return the money. Instead, he tells her about something he learned in history class regarding William the Conqueror taking England. “But he didn’t steal England,” Stevenson says. True – and he also doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in this film. Let’s move on.


Stevenson’s mom (Anna Lee, who was Stevenson’s real-life mother) thinks Sparks is from the “lower strata” – you know, like he is somewhere on the evolutionary scale below a gibbon.  Part of the reason is because Sparks wears clothes that haven’t been washed since Dick Foran was singing in westerns. But remarkably, Sparks decides to turn it around, getting a job at a gas station, passing a history test, and sporting some new duds he apparently bought from Wal-Mart.


Meanwhile, a few suspicious characters (Jesse White and Dick Contino) arrive on the scene.  White pretends to be an insurance salesman (I guess that appliance gig didn’t work out) and Contino pretends to be an actor. Eventually, they both realize that Sparks knows something about the loot.


In the semi-ridiculous climax, Sparks decides to retrieve the dough, and is followed by White and Contino. Contino offs White. Then Contino shoots at Sparks six times from about ten feet away and misses every time.  Sparks escapes, but Contino eventually catches up with him at the gas station. The cops arrive just in time to riddle Contino with bullets, whereupon Langton asserts “This one won’t tell us anything.” Apparently Langton’s motto is ‘shoot first, so you can’t ask questions later.’


This film has its moments, mostly when Stevenson is on screen, because she is such a cutie. I’d only seen her once before, in Horror Hotel; unfortunately, she never checked out of that place. Sparks is okay, but he reminded me of Kevin Bacon with a v-neck hairpiece.  He warbles the title song, which stinks.  The music score isn’t bad, although the jazz riffs made me think I was watching a Courageous Cat cartoon. I have to admit that Contino surprised me with his acting.  Of course, the bar was low to begin with, but he is fairly convincing as a hood. Langton, as the stoic detective, saunters around like he has jock itch.




For you youngsters, at one time gasoline really was this cheap.





“Face it Dick, Abbott & Costello are not going to call you for any more movie roles.”





Another satisfied customer.





“So you’re the new Maytag repairman?”




I just posted this one for myself.





Sparks rehearses for his new music video, “If I had a hammer.”


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Liked your latest "review" here Rich, except I wish you would have mentioned a little something about the films' location shoot...Venice CA. 


I just watched a portion of this movie on YouTube after reading your post here, and the Venice shown in it proved to be a little walk down memory lane for me, as being a native SoCal-er, I remember the place being filled with all those oil derricks and a pretty run-down area of L.A., and years before all the "McMansions" along its Grand Canal were built in the last few decades.


And btw, I wasn't surprised you thought Dick Contino's performance fairly good in this, as even in 1958's "Daddy-O" here, I thought he always brought a "little somethin' special" to his roles...




(...with OR without his accordion!) LOL



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