Thursday, July 11, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Hot Cars (1956)

HOT CARS (1956) is an enjoyable crime movie which takes place in 60 minutes flat.

I'd never heard of this film, released by United Artists, before it was shown on Turner Classic Movies as part of a lineup celebrating "'50s car culture."

John Bromfield plays Nick Dunn, a used car lot salesman who loses his job but then has the good fortune to quickly land a new one. It's especially important as he's supporting his wife Jane (Carol Shannon) and a sick baby boy.

Nick realizes fairly quickly that his new boss, Markel (Ralph Clanton), is dealing in stolen goods. Nick plans to quit but his son requires expensive hospital treatment so he stays on the job; any thoughts that he'll simply be looking the other way are put to rest when he finds himself unloading merchandise off a car carrier with the lights on the lot very deliberately turned off.

Things go from bad to worse when Karen (Joi Lansing) frames Nick for the murder of a nosy police detective (Dabbs Greer) who's on the verge of uncovering Markel's crooked business.

The film initially seems to be a fairly standard low-budget crime film, made more interesting to this Southern Californian thanks to striking locations in Culver City and Santa Monica; the sites seen include some now-gone Culver City used car lots as well as Ocean Avenue and Jack's at the Beach in Santa Monica. (Nearly 20 years later Jack's at the Beach was seen on TV's THE ROCKFORD FILES; check out the pics here.)

Best of all, though, is the climactic sequence filmed at Pacific Ocean Park, a great location effectively used in a number of '50s films, including WOMAN ON THE RUN (1950), MAN IN THE DARK (1952), and THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953).

Nick has a fistfight with Markel's henchman Smiley (Mark Dana) on the roller coaster at the amusement park. This sequence is extremely impressive, as it seems to have been filmed without the use of back projections. In this era of computer fakery, a scene like this is all the more exciting. It's just terrific and adds that "something extra" which makes this little movie a must for fans of the "B's." I enjoyed the whole thing quite a bit.

HOT CARS was directed by Don McDougall and filmed in black and white by William Margulies. The movie has a score by Les Baxter, who also scored HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI (1965), reviewed here last week.

HOT CARS is available for streaming via Amazon Prime.


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

This film sounds a lot of fun! Would have been made just before John Bromfield landed his highly-successful role as "SHERIFF OF COCHISE" on TV (1956-60).

11:03 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jerry, I suspect you would enjoy it a lot. In tone it kind of reminded me of something like Rod Cameron's THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE.

John Bromfield is a name I haven't known well -- not familiar with SHERIFF OF COCHISE (at least yet!). Thanks for mentioning that.

Best wishes,

10:07 PM  

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