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

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Gary Clarke and Fay Wray
DRAGSTRIP RIOT (1958). Director: David Bradley.

Rick Martin (Gary Clarke) was once in trouble with the law and his mother (Fay Wray!) and grandfather (Ted Wedderspoon) are forever afraid he'll do something stupid. Rick innocently ignites the ire of Bart Thorson (Bob Turnbull) because the latter covets the former's girlfriend, Janet (Yvonne Lime of I Was a Teenage Werewolf). To get even with Rick, Bart falls in with a motorcycle gang of toughs who also have a grudge against Rick, leading to a dangerous game of chicken involving two cars and an onrushing train; a death dive off a cliff; and a free-for-all rumble on the beach where the true bad guys are finally routed. None of this is as exciting as it sounds due to a slow pace -- even a race is kind of dull. Affecting a Jean Harlow  "platinum blond" hair color, Clarke makes a sensitive enough hero; Wray, light-years from King Kong, is fine as his mother; and there are more than acceptable performances from Turnbull, Lime, John Garwood as Silva, leader of the gang, and others. Connie Stevens [Hawaiian Eye] plays Marge, one of Janet's pals, who gets in a "cat fight" with Silva's brunette moll at one point; and Steve Inhat is cast as "Dutch," another biker, but is given little to do; he was also in Date Bait with Clarke. Connie also sings a song and there's another musical number as well. In one unintentionally hilarious scene, Rick looks around the beach for Janet as if she's nowhere in sight when a subsequent shot shows her not only just a few yards away but screaming her head off! It's equally humorous that the rumble, which supposedly takes place in an isolated spot, turns out to be happening right near the kids' hot spot, "Mom's."

Verdict: Slightly more entertaining than watching paint dry. *1/2.


angelman66 said...

Will check this out, if only to fast forward through to the musical numbers. A lot of those late 50s rock films were lame, trying to cash in on the real-life rock n roll bonanza...

William said...

This is one of the lamest. Poor Fay Wray seemed to take any assignment she could get in those days!