Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


John Ashley
HOT ROD GANG (1958). Director: Lew Landers.

John Abernathy III (John Ashley) lives with his two dotty aunts, Abigail (Helen Spring) and Anastasia (Dorothy Neumann). According to the dictates of a will, John must stick to the straight and narrow in his behavior, so he has to hide his interest in hot rods  -- especially when he splashes mud on an old prune, Dryden Philpott (Lester Dorr) --  and rock and roll. Wearing a false beard, John becomes a singer called "Jackson Dalrymple." Meanwhile John carries on a mild romance with new girl Lois (Jody Fair of Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow), whom he at first mistakes for a square. Bandleader Gene Vincent plays himself. Ashley is nice-looking, professional, and manlier than the usual boys in these movies, but he radiates a kind of negative aura, and it's perhaps understandable why he never amounted to much as an actor (he later turned producer). Russ Bender is on hand as a cop, Dub Taylor is Al, and Claire Du Brey [Everybody's Baby], Marie Dressler's companion, plays Agatha, the peppery maid. There are several songs -- you can  have a full life without hearing any of them.

Verdict: Not much about hot rods in this flick. *1/2.


angelman66 said...

The only name in this one I recognize is reliable Dub Taylor. Thanks goodness for those unforgettable character actors, they feel like old friends in a movie that has nothing else going for it. Too bad the music and the star (though cute) don't seem to make this one worthwhile.

William said...

Ashley did have an acting career for a while but when you star in movies like this and "Frankenstein's Daughter" you'd better get to the other side of the camera real quick!