Starring: Fay Spain, Steve Terrell, John Ashley, Frank Gorshin and TV Tommy Ivo.
Movie review by www.HotRodHotLine.com Movie Critic Richard Parks photographic consultant: Roger Rohrdanz
5 out of 8 Sparkplugs
Dragstrip Girl is a Golden State Production from American International Pictures. It is a black and white movie produced by Alex Gordon and Samuel Z. Arkoff, with the screenplay by Lou Rusoff and directed by Edward L. Cahn. The movie is 70 minutes long and stars Fay Spain, Steve Terrell, John Ashley, Frank Gorshin and TV Tommy Ivo. The plot of the movie is about young and wild teenagers who have lusty passions for speed, women and cars. A new girl comes to town who is beautiful, daring and loves to race her hot rod against the guys on the streets of their local town. The local group of guys and gals face news stresses as they adapt to the young speedster. Long felt insecurities and envy divide two friends who are both competing for the young girl’s attention and affection. The hero pulls back from the brink of disaster and begins to mature, while his friend rashly dashes into tragedy. Good triumphs over evil and the teens learn from their mistakes.
Dragstrip Girl combines all the elements that is needed for this type of coming of age drama, but it’s a bit short at 70 minutes in running length to develop all of the characters. The movie was filmed in 1957 and much of it translates well on the screen fifty years later. The clothes, styles and speech are definitive of the era. The plot is predictable, but then why shouldn’t it be when the subject is young people and their cars. We know who is going to win over the girl and which one is going to fail. There is no confusion as to who the hero is and who is the villain. The true stars of this film are the cars, and they are spectacular hot rods. The movie tends to pick up when the teens are in scenes showing off their hot rods, and dwindles when they are not. The racing sequences are very interesting and revealing. The version of the game ‘chicken’ and the accidents and near accidents are well done.
A true measure of any film is whether the reviewer can entice his spouse to stay and watch the movie with him. In this case, she watched the entire film, which indicated that the plot and outcome had carrying power as well. At times the movie became a bit moralistic. The father and mother would lecture their daughter about the perils of speed, yet take pride in their daughter’s fast car and skills in working on her hot rod. The police would enter the teen’s pizza parlor hangout and harangue a rebellious group about driving safety. The movie isn’t subtle about the dangers of being a teenager in the 1950’s, and it left an impression that maybe it wasn’t made for teens but for their parents. The scene about the Italian Pizza Parlor owner and his wife seemed out of place. Frank Gorshin took his small part and extended it beyond that part’s range. This movie is not rated but is suitable for the entire family. The language is mild and the action and fight sequences are far from violent. There is no nudity and the dancing and lustful bravado between the guys and gals is tame by modern standards. But in the end, it was the cars that come to mind. Those old hot rods stole the show. I recommend the movie and give it 5 spark plugs (out of a possible 8).
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