Runaway Daughters (1956)

American-International Pictures ran this on a double bill with Shake, Rattle and Rock, supposedly basing the story on something that happened to writer Lou Rusoff when he worked as a social worker.

Audrey Barton (Marla English, Flesh and the Spur) has rich parents who are wilder than she is, hooking up with neighbors when she’s trying to come home from a date with Tommy (Frank Gorshin as a high school student!). Everyone in her life is wild. Her friend Mary (Mary Ellen Kay, Voodoo Woman) is dating a twenty-year-old. Angie’s (Gloria Castillo, Reform School Girl) mom is on her third husband. And the kids in school are taunting her over all of it.

I mean, if I were Audrey, I’d flip out too. The parents spike the punch at her party with gin. The parents!

Director Edward L. Cahn put out some crazy stuff in the 50’s. There’s this movie, sure, but also Creature with the Atom BrainZombies of Mora TauDrag Strip GirlThe Terror from Beyond SpaceThe Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake and more.

Joe Dante remade this in 1994 as part of Showtime’s Rebel Highway series, reuniting most of the cast of The Howling — Christopher Stone, Dee Wallace, Robert Picardo, Dick Miller and Belinda Balaski — and starring Julie Bowen, Paul Rudd and Jenny Lewis.

You can watch this on Tubi.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Rodan (1956)

The greatest birthday of my life was when I turned seven in 1979. Sure, I had a roller skating party, but getting a Rodan Shogun Warriors figure that had a wingspan longer than my height was literally my greatest dream come true.

Ken Kuronuma, who wrote the original story for this film, based it on Captain Thomas F. Mantell, a pilot for the Kentucky Air National Guard, who died in a crash while allegedly pursuing a UFO.

This was the most popular of Toho’s movies in the United States for some time. It had a major ad campaign and boasted actors like Keye Luke, George Takei and Paul Frees. Maybe American audiences liked giant birds better than lizards. Or maybe it was because it was shot in color.

Giant bugs known as meganuron have been killing miners in a small town while unidentified flying objects continually attack. It turns out that there are two pteranodons that have been awakened by nuclear bomb tests. The flaps of their wings unleash sonic waves that take out entire cities, but they can’t survive being burned in a volcano.

Rodan would, of course, be back. As for seven year old me, Rodan destroyed many a city and fought many a robot.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Godzilla King of the Monsters! (1956)

“We weren’t interested in politics, believe me. We only wanted to make a movie we could sell. At that time, the American public wouldn’t have gone for a movie with an all-Japanese cast. That’s why we did what we did. We didn’t really change the story. We just gave it an American point of view.” – Richard Kay

Godzilla came to America as a result of several business deals. The first was between Edmund Goldman and Toho. For $25,000, Goldman bought the rights to create a movie “narrated, dubbed in English and completed in accordance with the revisions, additions, and deletions,” with final approval by Toho.

He would sell his interest in the movie to Harold Ross and Richard Kay of Jewell Enterprises — who had the idea to dub the movie and hire Raymond Burr — and then Joseph E. Levine, the man who would bring Hercules and Sophia Loren to America — came on board to make the movie a blockbuster.

Director Terry Morse was paid $10,000 for re-writing and directing any scenes that would be made for the remixed version of Godzilla, the same fee that Burr would get for a day’s work (and lending his box office clout to the film).

This was a movie made uner duress, mostly due to the budget. The new footage was filmed in just three days, with Burr working a 24-hour straight day — living up to his day of work, I guess — to shoot all of his scenes.

The rough edges — references to atomic bombs, nuclear tests and radioactive contamination — were cut. This was a movie about a giant monster now, not a nation using said big monster to deal with grief, fear and loss national identity.

Speaking of beating up actors, James Hong — Lo Pan! — and Sammee Tong (Bachelor Father) were locked in a room for five hours and recorded every single Japanese voice in this movie. They never saw the footage, only sitting with Morse at a table with a microphone.

For what it’s worth, original director Ishirō Honda found the changes pretty funny, saying  that he was “trying to imitate American monster movies” in the first place.

Burr plays Steve Martin, an American reporter injured in the wake of Godzilla’s attacks on Japan. For all the bad things you can say about editing this movie, his narration makes some scenes even stronger: “This is Tokyo. Once a city of six million people. What has happened here was caused by a force which up until a few days ago was entirely beyond the scope of Man’s imagination. Tokyo, a smoldering memorial to the unknown, an unknown which at this very moment still prevails and could at any time lash out with its terrible destruction anywhere else in the world. There were once many people here who could’ve told of what they saw… now there are only a few. My name is Steve Martin. I’m a foreign correspondent for United World News. I was headed for an assignment in Cairo, when I stopped off in Tokyo for a social call, but it turned out to be a visit to the living hell of another world.”

It’s pretty astounding that this movie basically samples the entire original movie and inserts Burr into so many scenes, using newly lensed scenes with Asian-American actors and editing tricks to make it seem as if he was always there.

Until 2004, this was the version of the movie that was seen worldwide. In Italy, however, Luigi Cozzi made a remix of the remix called Cozilla. Needing more footage to pad its running time, he added in real footage of chaotic death from newsreals to put the dark edge back into the film or give it an “up-to-date and more violent look” in his own words. Whatever the intention, the original art was cut up and made to be something more palatable to American audiences at one point and now was made to fit the need for Italian audiences to always see something shocking.

The Flaming Teenage (1956)

Irvin “Shorty” Yeaworth was born in German, became a singing star on Pittsburgh’s KDKA, made more than 400 religious and education films, and near the end of his life, was planning on helping to build a theme park called Jordanian Experience at the Aqaba Gateway.

That said, he’s probably best known amongst maniacs like you and me for directing The Blob.

Originally filmed in 1945 as Twice Convicted, new footage was added eleven years later and this was re-released, telling new audiences — or those duped into seeing it again — all about Fred Garland, a small town boy whose trip to the big city introduces him to booze and women of loose morals. Before you know it, he’s on the dope, shoplifting for money and by the end, happy to go to jail and get away from the life he’s been leading.

Movies like this are why it took me so long to do drugs. I was convinced that with just one inhale that I would become an addict, selling my family store and living on the street. Then I realized that my family did not have a store. Also, I was high.

You can watch this on the Internet Archive.

Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956)

Some people are content enough to never think about movies all that much. They watch them, they may like them, they may forget them and then they go on about having busy lives, making important business decisions and thinking that they’re a success. And then there’s me, awake in the middle of the night, wondering just how many movies have matriarchal societies within science fiction movies.

I’ve paid for my weirdness in money, depression and a sure future.

Enjoy the benefits of my Prometheus-like ways and join me, all week, as we get into these movies.

Fire Maidens of Outer Space is the kind of movie where you can see the zipper on the monster and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a British-American co-production and I’m astounded that no one looked at what writer/director Cy Roth had, well, wrought.

You’ll recognize the rocket that launches early in this movie from so many other 1950’s science fiction junk films. It’s a V-2 rocket that was taken from the Germans, probably as part of Operation paperclip, and launched at the White Sands base in 1946.

Once a new moon of Jupiter is found*, Earth sends five men who are as quick to smoke a cigarette and shoot a gun as they are to attempt diplomacy. This is the most realistic notion that this movie presents. Quickly after landing, they save Hestia (Susan Shaw, whose leading lady status was slowly eroded thanks to alcoholism) from a monster and discover that New Atlantis — a colony of the original! — is about to die out and that there are only sixteen women and one old man left.

They’d like to stick around and help, but once they discover that the leader Duessa (Jacqueline Curtis, The Camp on Blood Island) plans on keeping them as studs to repopulate her race, they try to get home. Of course, the monster gets loose, lots of people die and the remaining women all fall for our dashing crew members, like Luther Blair (Anthony Dexter, who was so frustrated by Hollywood typecasting him in only roles like Valentino — they looked incredibly alike — that he quit to become a high school teacher).

This is basically a much worse Cat-Women of the Moon, except you know, with more cigarettes and thirteen Fire Maidens.

*The movie is remarkably accurate in one way — it predicted that we would discover that the 13th moon of Jupiter. We sure did — 18 years later — and named it Thelxinoe.

The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956)

Filmed in both English and Spanish at Churubusco Studios in Mexico City, the American version of this Willis O’Brien (the animator of King Kong) was called The Beast of Hollow Mountain while the Mexican one was named La Bestia de la Montaña.

Cowboys and dinosaurs seem like a pretty natural combination. In this one, Jimmy Ryan (Guy Madison, who played Wild Bill Hickock on TV’s The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok) finds out that some real life giant lizards are eating all his cattle.

You know how I always complain about movies showing the monster too soon? This waits nearly an hour before you see the dinosaur. That’s having patience. Oh yeah — don’t get attached to the little kid who has an abusive father.

O’Brien also wrote another unproduced script from this concept called The Valley of the Mists, which would later be made as The Valley of Gwangi by Ray Harryhausen, in case you can’t get enough stop motion monsters.

2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 18: Warning from Space (1956)

DAY 18. RESURRECTIONISTS: Watch something that came out on one of the many reissue labels that we love like Arrow, Criterion, Bleeding Skull, Scream Factory, Indicator, Vinegar Syndrome, AGFA etc.

The majority of my paycheck? That goes to my wife.

The rest goes to movies.

Arrow Video gets a good chunk of what I have and they’ve been putting out an amazing mix of films this year, including plenty of wonderful Japanese films like 1958’s Uchūjin Tokyo ni arawaru. (Spacemen Appear In Tokyo), which was released in the U.S. as Warning from Space. It was the first color science fiction movie made in that country.

Made by Daei, the same people who would gift us with Gamera, and released in the U.S. eleven years after it came out in Japan, this movie has been pointed to as one that Kubrick watched as he grew fascinated with science fiction.

The Pairan aliens of the film are perhaps the best reason to watch this. They’ve never looked better than now, with the gorgeous remastered transfer that’s on Arrow’s new disk. Designed by avant-garde artist Taro Okamoto, they’re unlike any aliens we’d imagine in the West. Instead of humanoid creatures, they’re stars that dance their strange ballet toward camera as they wonder how to reach Earth’s scientists.

One of those aliens decides to take the form of entertainer Hikari Aozora and reach out to our scientists and World Congress to borrow our nuclear weapons to obliterate another planet in the path of our world called Planet R. As no one decides to listen to her, we’re forced to deal with all the impact of having a rogue planet come closer and closer to us. The whole “listen to science’ mantra that our world is ignoring happens here as well, but sadly, we don’t have human-sized star aliens with one giant eye to right our course.

Trust me, just watch those Pairans bounce around your screen is worth the price of this blu ray. The new Arrow Video edition of this movie also features commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV, author of Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!, and a newly restored English dub track.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this film by Arrow Video. That said, we spend a lot of money on movies and don’t change our reviews just because we get review copies. Buy physical media!

The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)

Frank Tashlin made the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons and you know, that’s pretty much what this movie is. It’s a cartoon come beautiful and wonderfully to life. He’d work with Jerry Lewis on six of his solo films (Rock-A-Bye Baby, The Geisha Boy, Cinderfella, It’s Only Money, Who’s Minding the Store? and The Disorderly Orderly) and then work with Jayne Mansfield again on the movie Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? He also wrote the Don Knotts film The Shakiest Gun in the West.

I knew I would love this movie in the first few seconds, when Tom Ewell introduces the film by showing how CinemaScope and the colors by DeLuxe work. It’s an astounding moment that breaks the fourth wall before it has even been built.

A mobster who runs the slots, Marty “Fats” Murdock (Edmond O’Brien), has one dream. He wants his girl, Jerri Jordan (Mansfield), to be a singer. She has no talent, but he knows that press agent Tom Miller (Ewell, who is best known for The Seven Year Itch and whose last movie was Rodney Dangerfield’s Easy Money) can get the job done. Even better, he never hits on his clients.

Murdock is obsessed with a song he wrote, “Rock Around the Rock Pile,” and Miller has to go to enemy territory and sell the song to another mobster, Wheeler (John Emery, Kronos), who rules the jukeboxes.

There’s all manner of romantic confusion and a gang war over jukeboxes, which was actually a thing once. All ends well, with Jerri confessing that she really can sing and Murdock letting her know that he doesn’t want to marry her, so she can go off and be with Tom, the man she loves. The wedding dress that Mansfield wears here was loaned to her for her wedding to Mickey Hargitay.

Oh yeah — and Juanita Moore, from Imitation of Life, is in this. That’s what normal folks know her from. Me, I recognized her as Momma from Abby right away.

The real reason to watch this — beyond the rainbow of colors ready to bathe your eyes in perfect beauty and majesty — are the performances by Fats Domino, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, The Platters, Gene Vincent, Eddie Fontaine and more.

In The Beatles Anthology, Paul McCartney discusses how John Lennon learned how to play guitar from watching Cochran in this movie. It meant so much to them that they cut the recording of “Birthday” at Abbey Road Studios short to watch its 1968 British TV debut. Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck also claimed that this movie was a big influence.

Speaking of influence, some feel that Elvis was directly inspired by the dancing for “Rock Around the Rockpile,” which was somewhat of an imitation of him anyway, and may have used the look of this scene when he made Jailhouse Rock. The makers of The Girl Can’t Help It wanted Elvis for this film, but dealing with Colonel Tom Parker proved to be too much to deal with, as his asking price for one Elvis song was too expensive.

Want to love this movie even more? Listen to John Waters discuss it on the British DVD release. He would also tell the Directors Guild of America Quarterly, “This wasn’t a movie that my boy classmates wanted to see or cared about. They weren’t interested in discussing Jayne Mansfield’s complete lack of roots. I really had no one that I could be enthusiastic with about it. So it was a private secret of mine, this movie.”

Waters based so much of the character of Divine — she would even come on stage to the song “The Girl Can’t Help It” — from Mansfield. He also points out that Little Richard’s mustache in this movie had such an impact on him that he’s had it for his entire life.

This film is pure greatness on a level that very few movies ever hope to reach. You can watch it on YouTube.

Drive-In Friday: Fast & Furious ’50s Style Night

Thank the celluloid gods of the analog netherworlds for giving Sam the idea to commemorate the Fast & Furious franchise, thus granting the opportunity to go ’50s hot roddin’ rock n’ roll crazy with this week’s Drive-In Friday tribute.

Vin Diesel lookalike autograph signing under the tent Friday!

Tonight’s show takes me back to the days when AMC was still known as “American Movie Classics” and aired actual “classic movies,” most importantly, their American Pop! programming block that ran Saturday Nights from 10:00 p.m to midnight from 1998 to 2003.

To say American Pop! carried a USA Network’s Night Flight* aroma is an understatement, courtesy of its programming roster that featured 1950s and 1960s rock n’ roll-oriented films augmented with classic trailers, music videos cut form period musicals, drive-in movie ads, and old drive-in snipes urging you to “visit the snack bar.” The purpose of the programming block was to ramp an AMC-affiliated 24-hour cable channel . . . that never came to fruition.

Ugh. Heart broken by progress, once again.

Oh, and you can thank — or blame — screenwriter Stewart Stern and director Nicolas Ray for these F&F precursors, for each aspire to emulate the film that started it all: the 1955 juvenile delinquency classic, Rebel Without a Cause. But if you’re looking for social commentaries about clueless parents battling the moral decay of American youth, you best go watch a copy of Richard Brooks’s Blackboard Jungle (1955), instead. And if you’re having Marlon Brando flashbacks ala The Wild One (1953) . . . and if all the “teens” look like 30 year olds, they probably are.

So, alright, gang! Let’s get fast n’ furious, crazy baby! Let’s rock to that hot rockin’ beat, daddy-o!

Movie 1: Hot Rod Girl (1956)

CHICKEN-RACE . . . ROCK ‘N ROLL . . . YOUTH ON THE LOOSE! . . . ARE THESE OUR CHILDREN? . . . Teen-age terrorists tearing up the streets!”

Now if that fine slice-o-copywritin’ doesn’t inspire you to pony up to the cracklin’ speaker and firin’ up that ol’ bug coil, then nothing will.

As with the plot of most of the Fast & Furious knockoffs of century 21: After his kid brother dies in an illegal street race, a champion drag-racer quits racing. When a new hotshot racer comes to town, he’s forced back into racing to retain his title.

Way to splash that testosterone, guys.

The “Natalie Wood” bad-girl, aka the Hot Rod Girl, who plays the two drag racin’ dopes against each other, is Lori Nelson (co-star of the 1957 rock n’ delinquency flick Untamed Youth with Mamie Van Doren), and the cop on the case is . . . Chuck Connors from Tourist Trap? And one of the “teen” thugs is a 23-year-old Frank Gorshin, aka The Joker of TV’s Batman fame, in his acting debut.

IMDb poster link.

Movie 2: Hot Rod Rumble (1957)

“DRAG STRIP SHOCKS! PISTON-HARD DRAMA! ROCK ‘N ROLL LOVE! . . . A scorching story of the slick chicks who fire up the Big Wheels!”

Hey, dad! It’s more rival car clubs and vehicular homicide via illegal street racing with a poor, misunderstood youth being set up for murder. Oh, and there’s always a heart-toying bad-girl adding to the hot rod drama, in this case, (hubba-hubba) actress Leigh Snowden who — by name alone — makes me feel funny, you know like when you take a Garth Algar-climb up the rope in gym class. Leigh’s other claim to fame: the third Gill-man/Black Lagoon movie that no one cares about: 1956’s The Creature Walks Among Us.

IMDb poster link.

Movie 3: Teenage Thunder (1957)

“Young love and teenage kiss . . . hot rods and hot tempers.”

As you can see, the copywriters were having a bad day marketing this James Dean-light knockoff. And you’d think cloning the epitome of teen juvies would lead to bigger roles . . . but not for Chuck Courtney: by the turn of the ’60s he was down to background work as a soldier on Spartacus and as a crewmember on TV’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

He stars as the misunderstood and motherless (typical 27 year old playing an 18-year-old) Johnnie Simpson who lives with his every-criticizing father (see Jim Backus’s in his role as Jim Stark) and Aunt Martha (because aunts are always named “Martha” in the movies). Of course, Johnnie’s family is poor and he can’t afford a fancy hot rod . . . or even a rat rod. But Maurie Weston (hey, that’s Robert Fuller from TV’s Emergency! and Walker, Texas Ranger!), the local town bully-cum-rich kid, has as a set of smokin’ wheels . . . and Jim’s waitress-girlfriend (Melinda Bryon; appeared in 1948’s Kiss the Blood Off My Hands with Burt Lancaster) notices. Yep, Jim’s gotta race for the girl.

Johnnie, my advice: there’s other babes to score at the sock hop. You’ll never win with girls who like the bad-boy. Never. Even when they look like Leigh Snowden.

IMDb poster link.

Intermission . . .

Back to the show . . .

Movie 4: Drag Strip Riot (1958)

“Murder at 120 miles per hour!”

Now you’re talkin’ Mr. Copywriter. And yes, Mr. Art Director: illegal street racing jousts between Corvettes and Triumph motorcycles is exactly what we want on a poster!

This one has it all: In addition to bike vs. car battles, we have a climatic fishing spear fight scene on the beach, we have (hubba-hubba alert) an on-the-way-up Connie Stevens (of the rockin’ juvie potboilers Young and Dangerous, Eighteen and Anxious, and The Party Crashers issued in ’57 and ’58), and an on-the-way down Fay Wray (do we have to mention her iconic role; she was also in ’56s Rock, Pretty Baby!).

The teen tempers boil when the cleancut members of a sportscar club (complete with sweaters and slacks, natch) runs afoul of a motorcycle gang and it results in the death of one of the instigating bikers. And now they’re out for revenge.

The double hubba-hubba alert comes courtesy of the resident bad-boy chasing femme fatale played by Yvonne Lime, who’s traveled the rockin’ asphalt before in High School Hellcats, Speed Crazy (also a hot rod flick), and Untamed Youth.

IMDb poster link.

Movie 5: Hot Car Girl (1958)

“She’s hell on wheels . . . and up for any thrill!”

Seems Mr. Screenwriter dipped the pen into the Shakespearian ink; for this is Othello with hot rods.

Duke (Richard Bakalyan; you’ve seen him across his 150 TV credits into the early ’90s) and Freddie (John Brinkley, who’s traveled this rockin’ road before in Hot Rod Rumble, Teenage Doll, and T-Bird Gang) finance their hot roddin’ lifestyle by stealin’ cars n’ strippin’ auto parts for a fence. When they, along with Duke’s girl, Peg (June Kenney, also of Teenage Doll, but also of 1959’s Attack of the Puppet People and Roger Corman’s Sorority Girl), are goaded into a road race by the resident bad-girl, Janice (Jana Lund, also of High School Hellcats with Yvonne Lime, Elvis Presley’s Loving You, and the rock flick classic, Don’t Knock the Rock . . . but since this B&S About Movies: it’s all about Frankenstein 1970 for our Lundness), a motorcycle cop dies. Let the frames and double crosses, blackmailing and betrayals begin, Desdemona.

Oh, almost forgot: Bruno VeSota is in this as Joe Dobbie (seriously). What ’50s and ’60s film wasn’t the Big V in? Yep, there he is in Attack of the Giant Leeches, A Bucket of Blood, and The Wasp Woman . . . but also of the early rock flicks Daddy-O, Rock All Night, and Carnival Rock. It is actors like you that gives our lives at B&S meaning, Mr. VeSota. We bow to you, sir.

IMDb poster link.

Movie 6: Hot Rod Gang (1958)

“Crazy kids . . . living to a wild rock n’ roll beat!”

But the “beat” is sung by John Ashley and Gene Vincent???

The ’32 Ford Roadsters as speedin’ fast n’ furious in this tale regarding the trials and tribulations of John Abernathy III, a poor little rich kid who jeopardizes inheriting his father’s wealth with his on-the-down-low, second-rate Elvis crooning with his buddy, Gene Vincent, and his illegal hot roddin’ career. The bad-girl who screws it all up for John is the devilish Lois Cavendish (Jody Fair, best remembered for 1958’s The Brain Eaters, but did the juvie-rock flicks Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow, Girls Town, High School Confidential, and The Young Savages with Burt Lancaster).

And those breasts! Yikes. They’d impale a frail lad like me. No, really.

IMDb poster link.

Hey, those foil hot dog and burger wrappers don’t pick up themselves. And we’ll see you Sunday under the tent for the sock hop! It’ll be a crazy time, dad! (And Leigh Snowden will break my heart, as she goes off with the leather-jacketed and pot smoking Johnny . . . who subsequently abandons her on a bus bench in the middle of nowhere. Guess who comes to her rescue? The heart wants what the heart wants . . . and it’s always bad.)

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

* We previously paid tribute to the USA Network’s Night Flight with a recent, four-movie Drive-In Friday featurette.

Rock, Rock, Rock! (1956)

Rock, Rock, Rock! was conceived, co-written and co-produced by Milton Subotsky — he also wrote nine of the songs in the movie — who we all know was half of the team that was known as Amicus (along with Max Rosenberg, who also produced this movie). All hail Amicus! And all hail Sword & Sorcery Productions, Subotsky’s 70’s production team that tried — and sadly failed — to bring Lin Carter’s Thongor in the Valley of Demons and adapations of Creepy and Eerie to the screen. He’d also co-produce Maximum Overdrive, Sometimes They Come Back and The Lawnmower Man.

This is the first rock ‘n roll movie to have its own soundtrack, released on Chess, which features four songs each from three of the label’s artists — Chuck Berry, The Moonglows and The Flamingos — as other bands were signed to different labels, which appear on screen in the credits along with each band at the end. Connie Francis’ songs were released by MGM, for example, and The Teenagers’ songs were on Gee Records.

This film is considered a jukebox musical, where the plot is driven by popular songs. I could give you great stage play versions that everyone in the rest of the world loves, but I’m me, and the examples I give are Nilsson’s Son of Dracula and The Village People’s Can’t Stop the Music.

The story itself is very simple: ori Graham (Tuesday Weld, with Connie Francis’ singing voice) get sinto hijinks as she tries to buy a gown for a big dance. Jack Collins — who was Mr. Brady’s boss — is her dad, who is driven nearly mad by her ridiculousness.

Alan Freed shows up as, well, Alan Freed. He grew up in Salem, Ohio, miles away from my small hometown and his first jobs were on WKBN in Youngstown and WKST in New Castle. He was a rebel, playing mixed raced music and throwing dances that weren’t segregated. He’s perhaps best remembered for popularizing the term rock and roll, describing it in this movie as “a river of music which has absorbed many streams: rhythm and blues, jazz, ragtime, cowboy songs, country songs, folk songs. All have contributed greatly to the big beat.”

His initial big success came in Cleveland, in case you ever wondered what the hell Huey Lewis was singing about and why the Hall of Fame is on East 9th Street. He also started appearing in other movies like this, such as Rock Around the ClockMister Rock and RollDon’t Knock the Rock and Go, Johnny Go!

Freed’s career was destroyed by the payola scandal, which showed that he had accepted money to play certain songs and even songwriting credits on others, ensuring he would get royalties. That said, The Moonglows did confirm that he did co-write the song “Sincerely.”

But the damage was done. He’d bounce from station to station, unable to promote the rock and roll shows that he loved so much. He died in 1965, at the young age of 43, from the damage that alcohol does to the liver.

He was played by Tim McIntire in the movie American Hot Wax (he also played George Jones in Stand By Your Man), which features tons of artists playing themselves, like Jerry Lee Lewis, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Chuck Berry and Frankie Ford.

Times were weird in 1956. Tuesday Weld turned 13 while this movie was being made. Her boyfriend in the film, Teddy Randazzo (who wrote “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle”), was 21.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi.