DRAGSTRIP GIRL (director: Edward L. Cahn; screenwriter: story by Lou Rusoff/ Lou Rusoff; cinematographer: Frederick E. West; editor: Ronald Sinclair; music: Ronald Stein; cast: Fay Spain (Louise Blake), Steve Terrell (Jim Donaldson), John Ashley (Fred Armstrong), Frank Gorshin (Tommy Burns), Tommy Ivo (Rick Camden), Judy Bamber (Rhoda), Don Shelton (Sam Blake), Dorothy Bruce (Anna Blake), Grazia Narciso (Mama), Tito Vuolo(Papa), Russ Bender (Lt. Bradley); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Alex Gordon; Columbia Tristar Home Video; 1957)
“The teen hot rod racing pic is a loser, but it’s a lovable wreck.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Edward L. Cahn (“Pier 5, Havana”/”Vice Raid”/”Oklahoma Territory“) affectionately directs this low-budget teen flick that’s based on a story by Lou Rusoff, who also writes the script. The teen hot rod racing pic is a loser, but it’s a lovable wreck.Cahn sets up a fake environment, where the unreal teen characters hang around Mama’s pizzeria when not fixing up their hot rods parked in the next door garage and scheme to race their hot rods down city streets despite given a legal racing strip by the concerned cops.
Louise Blake (Fay Spain) is the 18-year-old hottie, who just moved to LA from Salt Lake City with her middle-class parents and gets her kicks from hot rods with high HP. The confused teen can’t decide which hotrodder she likes, the mechanical-minded earnest bricklayer’s son Jim Donaldson (Steve Terrell) or the punky spoiled rich boy Fred Armstrong (John Ashley). Jim and Fred become bitter rivals for Louise’s love, and Fred vows to do anything he can to win her and to beat rival Jim in the big race offering the winner a college scholarship.The only thing is Fred takes things too far by stealing Jim’s custom-built hot rod the night before the big race to test how fast it goes and while racing it on city streets kills a pedestrian and races away from the scene. During the day of the race Lt. Bradley (Russ Bender) investigates the fatality at the racing site, and the craven Fred unsuccessfully tries to pin the hit-and-run fatality on Jim.
A perfect schlock flick to take a date to at a 1950’s drive-in (not recommended when viewing it in theaters or on tape, as the film loses some of its corny charm), even if this AIP (American International Pictures) cheapie runs out of gas way before it reaches the finish line.It was remade years later as the television series The Young and the Reckless.
REVIEWED ON 2/14/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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