Mister Rock and Roll (1957)

Charles S. Dubin was blacklisted but still ended up being a TV director of some reknown five years afterward. He’d go on to direct 44 episodes of M*A*S*H*, as well as TV movies like The Deadly Triangle and the 1979 remake of Topper.

Here, he’s putting together a jukebox musical featuring Mr. Rock and Roll himself, Alan Freed, playing himself.

Freed made his “acting” debut — as himself, natch — with Rock Around the Clock (1956) alongside Bill Haley and the Comets; he followed up with Rock Rock Rock! (1956), Don’t Knock the Rock (1956; shot-for-shot and word-for-word remade as Don’t Knock the Twist with Chubby Checker), and Go, Johnny, Go! (1959), the last which Freed produced. In addition to those films, on the small screen, Freed starred as host of the feature-length Rock ‘N’ Roll Revue (1957), which aired on ABC-TV on May 8th of that year.

Here, in Mister Rock and Roll, we learn the story of how Freed helped discover rock and roll, yet it doesn’t shy away from the roots of the form in gospel, jazz and the blues. You get to see it performed by many of the earliest stars, including Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Clyde McPhatter, The Moonglows, Little Richard, Ferlin Husky (attention all fans of Hillbillys In a Haunted House and by that, I’m talking to myself) and Chuck Berry.

Teddy Randazzo plays himself and his love story with Carole (Lois O’Brien) is the central part of the story. She’s a reporter whose boss believes that rock and roll is going to ruin society. Those kids loving this music would grow up to hate hippies and feel the very same way.

Rocky Marciano also shows up for romantic advice in between the twenty some odd songs, making this nearly a 90-minute music video. No complaints. It’s a time capsule worth your time.

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