American Hot Wax (1978)

Floy Mutrux wrote the musical theater productions Million Dollar QuartetBaby It’s You! and Heartbreak Hotel after a career in films, including directing Aloha Bobby and Rose and The Hollywood Knights. He’s also written scripts for movies like Freebie and the Bean and Two-Lane Blacktop.

The strange thing is, this movie failed at the box office while its soundtrack went to #31 on the Billboard charts with no pr. And the movie itself is packed with the real artists of the era playing themselves, like Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Ford and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

This movie was well-reviewed — notorious haters Gene Siskel and Pauline Kael spoke well of it — and yet it died nearly unseen.

Tim McIntire — Blood’s voice in A Boy and His Dog — plays Alan Freed, the first DJ to get black artists on mainstream radio (or at least the first to be recognized for such a brave act). He’s also George Jones in Stand By Your Man, if you want to do a music movie double feature.

It’s also a romance, with Freed’s Freed’s secretary Sheryl (Fran Drescher) getting hit by Cupid’s arrow for chauffeur Mookie (Jay Leno). Jeff Altman, who for some reason has shown up in numerous rock and roll movies this week, plays a record exec. And hey — Larraine Newman is here, on break from SNL, as a young songwriter whose parents don’t approve of her being around black people (Carole King but not in name, basically).

NOTE: Thanks to Keith Morris for pointing out that it should be Carole King, not Caroline.

Planet Records owner Richard Perry — the man who produced Nilsson Schmilsson — is a record producer. There’s also plenty of great music and this film takes a more glowing look at Alan Freed than other films. It’s a shame more people don’t know about this movie.

You can watch this on YouTube.

4 thoughts on “American Hot Wax (1978)

  1. And hey — Larraine Newman is here, on break from SNL, as a young songwriter whose parents don’t approve of her being around black people (Caroline King but not in name, basically).

    Reminds me of the character Denise Waverly/Edna Buxton (Illeana Douglas) from the movie Grace of My Heart.


    • Thanks for finding that error. I’ve fixed it and mentioned that you called it out. You should also adjust your comment to properly read: “It’s Carole King, genius, not Caroline. Obviously, you have a great grasp of music history.”

      Thanks for your help!


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