Saturday, December 22, 2007

5th January 2007: Youth Gone Wild double!

The Fast And The Furious

USA 1955 b&w

Directors John Ireland, Edward Sampson Producer/Story Roger Corman Screenplay Jean Howell, Jerome Odlum

Cast John Ireland (Frank Webster), Dorothy Malone (Connie Adair), Bruce Carlisle (Faber), Iris Adrian (Waitress), Bruno VeSota (Truck Driver), Roger Corman (State Trooper), Jonathan Haze (Connie’s Rescuer)

Hey Daddy-Os, and welcome to a special Schlock Treatment double feature of “Youth Gone Wild”, even if the star of tonight’s first feature is pushing middle age! John Ireland, a Hollywood actor specializing in playing assholes, is true to type in the 1954 film The Fast And The Furious - here he kidnaps a waitress (played by Dorothy Malone) at gunpoint, carjacks a Jaguar, and then endlessly bickers with Malone on a wild cross-country chase with the highway patrol and some very irate racing officials.

Forget the 2001 film of the same name - the 1954 Fast And The Furious is the product of the fevered imagination of the King of the Drive-Ins, Roger Corman. This was one of his first films as writer and producer and is characteristic of his over-400 film output: small, compact genre films that work perfectly within their budgetary restrictions, with fantastic dialogue and action scenes, cherrypicking the best elements of road movies, film noir and the burgeoning Juvenile Delinquent film popularized by Marlon Brando’s The Wild One.

Corman sold his film to ARC, a company that would later become American International Pictures, his employer for over 10 years and the undisputed moguls of the drive-in circuit. Throw in a few familiar AIP faces like Bruno VeSota and Jonathan Haze, a great jazz score by the doomed Chet Baker and even a cameo from Corman himself as a state trooper, and you are truly looking at B-grade cinema history.

The Wild Ride

USA 1960 b&w

aka Velocity

Director Harvey Berman Story Burt Topper Screenplay Ann Porter, Marion Rothman

Cast Jack Nicholson (Johnny Varron), Georgianna Carter (Nancy), Robert Bean (Dave), Carol Bigby

From The Fast And The Furious to The Turtle and The Tortoise - second on our “Youth Gone Wild” double feature is the 1960 Juvenile Delinquent film (or “JD” film as it’s more affectionately known), The Wild Ride, featuring Jack Nicholson before he started shaving and became one of the reigning sovereigns of the post-JD biker genre (Hells Angels On Wheels, Rebel Rousers).

Nicholson made his film debut two years before in the title role of the Roger Corman-produced Cry Baby Killer, and in the same year as The Wild Ride did an impressive cameo in Corman’s black comedy masterpiece Little Shop Of Horrors as a masochist dental patient. Certainly Nicholson did some of his best work for Corman in the Sixties before hitting the big time in the biker film benchmark Easy Rider in 1969.

Back to The Wild Ride, which is clearly NOT a Corman film. Nicholson was on loan to a film which is the living, breathing embodiment of the term “B picture” - its grainy black and white footage clocks in at under an hour with a no-name cast (apart from Nicholson) and crew, and is destined for eternal damnation as the bottom (as in “bottom of the barrel”) of a drive-in double. The film is more a case of “Youth Gone Mild” - Nicholson and his cop-hating gang of misfits indulge in some enjoyably anti-social silliness which never really gets that nasty, and the car action sequences fail to set the screen on fire. But the spectacle of an almost fetal Jack-Baby spouting the best pseudo-beat dialogue this side of High School Confidential is more than enough reason to experience for yourself The Wild Ride.

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