(director: D. Ross Lederman; screenwriters: Dore Schary/story and screenplay Tristram Tucker; cinematographer: Arthur Todd; editor: Frank Magee; music: Leo Forbstein; cast: Lyle Talbot (Wally Storm), Mary Astor (Pat Sanford), Henry Kolker (Martin Sanford), Gavin Gordon (Bob Griffin), Bradley Page (Curley Taylor), Roscoe Karns (Bud Keene), Howard Hickman (Judge Alcott), Frankie Darro (Johnny), Mary Treen (Maggie), John Elliott (Governor); Runtime: 61; MPAA Rating: NR; Warner Bros.; 1935-B/W)

A lively but predictable minor auto racing film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A lively but predictable minor auto racing film. It’s about a race-car driver framed for a murder on the racetrack and escaping from prison to race in South America. D. Ross Lederman (“Key Witnesss”/”Jamboree”) modestly directs from a story by Tristram Tucker, while the limited screenplay is by Tucker and Dore Schary. At the race-car track in Dayton, the arrogant top driver for the Sanford racing team Bob Griffin (Gavin Gordon) and the mechanic Wally Storm (Lyle Talbot) for the same team, hate each other and are rivals for Pat Sanford (Mary Astor), the attractive daughter of the racing car designer and team owner, Martin Sanford (Henry Kolker).

After verbally abused by Griffin, Wally knocks him out. Sanford for some illogical reason ignores the verbal baiting and fires Wally, even though knowing his daughter has chosen Wally over the slimy Bob. Wally gets to drive in a big race against Griffin, who schemes with his new crooked mechanic, Curley (Bradley Page), on how to lock wheels with any racing competitor challenging him (the crooked men plan to use an attached illegal spike to put their competition out of the race with a flat tire). When this happens during the race, Griffin is killed when his car hits the wall after going out of control. In an unjust trial, Wally is convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison for ten years. The evidence used against him is brought by the crooked Curley that before the race Wally told Griffin “He will run him off the track” and the quote is corroborated on the stand by Pat. With the help of the youngster mechanic Johnny (Frankie Darro), Pat finds the spike and goes to the governor with the new evidence. The governor grants a pardon, but Wally’s mechanic pal Bud (Roscoe Karns) engineers a prison break just before the pardon goes through and the two head for South America, where under an assumed name Wally becomes the South American champion (it’s hard to believe Wally wasn’t informed of the new evidence and possibility of a pardon).

The climax is unbearable to comprehend, as Pat realizes her love is racing in South America and invites him to sneak into the country and race for her in a car she designed for him. The judge who sent Wallace up the river attends the race and everything turns out well for the wrongly convicted Wally. After pardoned, Pat accepts his marriage proposal. Stock auto-racing footage was used for the racing scenes.

Mary Astor and Roscoe Karns in Red Hot Tires (1935)