Sunday, May 24, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Hot Rod (1950) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

James "Jimmy" Lydon stars in HOT ROD (1950), available in a remastered print from the Warner Archive.

I caught up with this 2010 Warner Archive release this weekend and enjoyed it. It's definitely a fairly minor Monogram Pictures film, but I found it a pleasant 61 minutes to spend time with on a Sunday afternoon.

Lydon plays David Langham, a junior college student who lives with his father (Art Baker), a judge, and his older policeman brother Joe (Myron Healey).

Like many young people in the neighborhood, David wants his own car, in order to get around more easily and impress the girls. But once he has a car -- an old vehicle requiring a lot of TLC -- that's not enough. David wants to drive fast! And he makes special "modifications" behind his father's back which will allow his clunker to drive faster.

Judge Langham is worried by too many young hot rod drivers appearing in his court or worse, dying. He considers backing a proposal for a track which will allow young drivers to take part in timed races while safety is emphasized, but when he learns David has secretly modified his car all bets are off.

David being mistakenly accused of a hit and run doesn't help matters...

HOT ROD has a bit of a feel of a '50s Andy Hardy movie, right down to the dad who's a judge. A difference, though, is that Dad is not an endless font of wisdom in the style of Lewis Stone's Judge Hardy; at times he's just as obstinate as David.

Instead it's oldest son Joe, the cop, who sees both sides and calmly moderates the conversations between his father and brother. It's Joe who ultimately convinces Dad to bend a little so that everyone's happy.

Lydon, last reviewed here in A DATE WITH JUDY (1948), had a career of nearly five decades but is probably best remembered as a young male lead. He was well known for Paramount's Henry Aldrich films in the '40s, as well as LIFE WITH FATHER (1947). Along with LIFE WITH FATHER and A DATE WITH JUDY, Lydon also appeared opposite a young Elizabeth Taylor in CYNTHIA (1947).

A few years after HOT ROD Lydon starred with Wayne Morris and Beverly Garland in a Western I especially like and recommend, THE DESPERADO (1954).

Gil Stratton Jr. plays David's best friend Swifty. Stratton had been in the movies since appearing in MGM's BEST FOOT FORWARD (1943) and GIRL CRAZY (1943) and was still a youthful-looking 27 or 28 when he appeared here as someone roughly a decade younger. Stratton, whose films also included STALAG 17 (1953), is known to Southern Californians of a certain age for his many years as a local Los Angeles sports reporter on both TV and radio.

HOT ROD was written by Daniel B. Ullman and directed by Lewis Collins, both familiar names from many "B" Westerns. The movie was shot by Gilbert Warrenton. Locations included the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles.

The print and sound of this remastered Warner Archive DVD are very good quality. There are no extras on the disc.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Bill said...

Art Baker was the original host of the TV show, You Asked For it-- I watched it religiously when I was a kid. He always played pleasant older men in the movies. No great actor--at least I never saw any evidence of it.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Enjoyed your memory of Art Baker.

When I think of Baker's movies the first one that comes to mind is a personal favorite, COVER UP (1949), in which he played Barbara Britton's dad.

Best wishes,

8:51 AM  

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