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Encyclopedia > Hot Rods to Hell
Hot Rods to Hell

Promotional poster for Hot Rods to Hell
Directed by John Brahm
James Curtis Havens
Produced by Sam Katzman
Written by Alex Gaby
Robert E. Kent
Starring Dana Andrews
Jeanne Crain
Paul Bertoya
Mimsy Farmer
Laurie Mock
Gene Kirkwood
Music by Fred Karger
Ben Weisman
Cinematography Lloyd Ahern
Editing by Ben Lewis
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) January, 1967
Running time 92 or 100 mins
Country United States
Language English
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

Hot Rods to Hell is a 1967 suspense film, originally intended for television but released in theaters instead after its producers considered it too intense for TV viewers. It is one of many exploitation-type films from noted producer Sam Katzman, whose work is generally regarded as of higher quality than are most such films. Film buffs of today, some of whom have described the film for the Internet Movie Database, are sharply divided in their opinions of this film. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... John Brahm (August 17, 1893 - October 12, 1982) was a film and television directer possibly best known today for directing a dozen of the orginal Twilight Zone episodes including the now classic Time Enough at Last. ... Sam Katzman (July 7, 1901 – August 4, 1973) was an American film producer. ... Robert E. Kent (born in Canal Zone, Panama) is an American film writer and film producer. ... Dana Andrews (January 1, 1909 - December 17, 1992) was an American film actor. ... Jeanne Crain Jeanne Elizabeth Crain (May 25, 1925 – December 14, 2003) was an American actress. ... Mimsy Farmer (28 February 1945 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American actress who played the lead role in Spencers Mountain (1960) and More (1969), the first feature film with a Pink Floyd soundtrack. ... Ben Weisman (November 16, 1921—May 20, 2007) was an American composer and pianist best known for having written many of the songs associated with Elvis Presley. ... For alternate meanings of MGM, see MGM (disambiguation). ... Lauren steiger, born in 1992 at Royal Womens hospital started acting and modelling at the age of 2 and is now currently 15 working in Milan on the catwalks. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Lauren steiger, born in 1992 at Royal Womens hospital started acting and modelling at the age of 2 and is now currently 15 working in Milan on the catwalks. ... Look up Suspense in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses see film (disambiguation) Film refers to the celluliod media on which movies are printed Film — also called movies, the cinema, the silver screen, moving pictures, photoplays, picture shows, flicks, or motion pictures, — is a field that encompasses motion pictures as an art form or as... Sam Katzman (July 7, 1901 – August 4, 1973) was an American film producer. ... The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about movies, actors, television shows, production crew personnel, and video games. ...

Contents

Plot

Traveling salesman Tom Phillips (Dana Andrews) is driving home to Boston, Massachusetts for Christmas when he encounters a drunken driver on a rain-streaked road. He cannot avoid a collision, and is hospitalized with spinal damage. Since he cannot be a traveling salesman anymore, his brother arranges for Tom to buy a remote motel in the desert town of Mayville, California. Tom is reluctant, since he has never been an innkeeper before--but in the end he decides that he must travel in order to get as far away from the site of his accident as possible, as soon as possible. The traveling salesman problem (TSP), also known as the traveling salesperson problem, is a problem in discrete or combinatorial optimization. ... Dana Andrews (January 1, 1909 - December 17, 1992) was an American film actor. ... Boston redirects here. ... This article is about arid terrain. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Largest metro area Greater Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ...


So Tom sets out for California with his wife, teen-aged daughter, and son. But when they reach the desert they are accosted by a pair of drag racers and a "party girl" in a modified, high-performance 1958 Chevrolet Corvette who jokingly force them to swerve and avoid a collision. Top Fuel dragster Drag racing is a sport in which cars race down a track with a set distance as fast as possible. ... Jan. ... Chevrolet (IPA: - French origin) (colloquially Chevy) is a brand of automobile, produced by General Motors (GM). ... The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car that has been manufactured by Chevrolet since 1953. ...


This is only the first of a series of escalating encounters with the local youth. Teenaged children of relatively well-off local farmers, they are apparently given "everything they want" but are still bored and are locked in a never-ending desire for "kicks" in which they will never be satisfied. The adults, including the owner of a local filling station, are fed-up with them. One of these adults, however, turns out to own the very motel that Tom Phillips has bought--and he is selling out after having let the wayward youth use his motel as an illicit trysting place for years.


When Tom tells the filling-station owner that he has "just bought himself a motel," one of the kids, named Ernie (Gene Kirkwood), overhears. Soon after, he tells his friend Duke (Paul Bertoya), who is the driver of the Corvette. Duke organizes a campaign of harassment against Tom and chases the hapless family all the way to the motel. The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car that has been manufactured by Chevrolet since 1953. ...


Matters come to a dangerous head when Tom's daughter (Laurie Mock), fascinated by Duke, goes to see him in the motel bar and grill, called the "Arena." Duke's current girlfriend Gloria (Mimsy Farmer), in a jealous rage, informs Tom, who tries to strangle Duke--but his back goes out and he must desist. He then informs the former motel owner (George Ives) that he will not go through with the sale. This causes a confrontation between the former owner and the youths, which ends when the owner tells Duke and Ernie that Tom is going to the next town to "bring the police down on this place." Mimsy Farmer (28 February 1945 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American actress who played the lead role in Spencers Mountain (1960) and More (1969), the first feature film with a Pink Floyd soundtrack. ...


Duke and Ernie resolve never to let Tom Phillips reach that town--and so, as the family tries to escape, they engage them in a deadly game of "chicken." This game ends only when Tom outwits the teenagers by parking his car on a narrow bridge, with the headlights on, evacuating him and his family to a safe spot twenty yards off the road. Faced with an unmoving object, Duke turns "chicken" himself, running his car off the edge of the bridge--after which he and Ernie, bruised, battered, and with scraped knees, swear that they will never give Tom any trouble. Tom agrees not to turn them in to the police--but tells them that he will go back to his motel and run it properly from now on. For other uses, see Chicken (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Chicken (disambiguation). ...


Themes

Primarily, the film follows a man who loses his basic confidence in himself and keeps running from trouble, beginning with his wanting to remove himself literally across the country from the site of an accident that has compromised his physical fitness. But he runs from one source of trouble into another--a source that gives chase. He finally finds his courage and joins battle when he cannot run anymore--and after winning the battle, he realizes that he need never run away again.


The film also explores the motives of Duke, Ernie, Gloria, and their friends. Beneath their bravado, the kids are scared, and scared most of all from boredom, from which they, too, have been running. Gloria nearly goes, quite simply, insane at the end. Duke and Ernie turn their scare into rage at the one adult who threatens their pursuit of "kicks." When that adult defeats them, their race for "kicks" is over--and they almost seem relieved.


Finally, the film explores the dynamics of a family whose father, because of the nature of his vocation, has neglected them in seemingly minor but critical ways. The deadly crisis that the family faces brings them together--and one senses that Tom, once he decides to stop running, will do a better job as a family leader than he has done before.


Most viewers, however, are likely to miss these themes, since the movie spends most of its time building suspense (will the confrontation end in death for Tom, or for Duke, or for both?) and too little time developing its characters.


Background and Production

This film was originally intended for television release, and was in fact shot in the 4:3 "full-screen" aspect ratio that persisted on television for decades even after film had long since gone to wide-screen aspect ratios of 1.65:1, 2:1, or even 2.25:1. When the project was finished, however, the producers deemed it too intense for television and released it to theaters (including drive-in theaters) instead, with a runtime of 92 minutes. Hulls Drive In Theatre, outside Lexington, Virginia A drive-in theater is a form of cinema structure consisting of a large screen, a projection booth, a concession stand and a large parking area for automobiles. ...


Eventually, ABC-TV bought the broadcast rights and exhibited the film on their ABC Sunday Night Movie series in 1968. Unaccountably, they used a print having a runtime of 100 minutes. When Turner Classic Movies bought the rights to MGM's extensive film library, they acquired this 100-minute print. This is the print shown on the infrequent occasions when they exhibit this film to their viewers. The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) operates television and radio networks in the United States and is also shown on basic cable in Canada. ... Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a cable television channel featuring commercial-free classic movies, mostly from the Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros. ...


Filming Locations

Filmed largely near the Southern California desert town Lake Los Angeles and Wilsona Gardens, east of Palmdale, California. Specific locations include "Charlie's Last Chance" gas station 34°40′15.27″N, 117°49′37.88″W; 150th Street E, where a majority of chase scenes were filmed, 34°38′31.45″N, 117°51′46.25″W; and the exact location of the narrow bridge crash at the end of the film (the bridge was actually constructed by the film crew) 34°38′43.59″N, 117°51′46.58″W. This article is about the region of Southern California. ... Lake Los Angeles is a census-designated place located in Los Angeles County, California. ... Motto: Aerospace Capital of America Location of Palmdale in Los Angeles County, California Coordinates: , Country United States of America State California County Los Angeles Government  - Mayor James C. Ledford Jr. ...


Cast

  • Dana Andrews as Tom Phillips
  • Jeanne Crain as Peg Phillips, his wife
  • Paul Bertoya as Duke, leader of the wayward youth
  • Gene Kirkland as Ernie, Duke's sidekick
  • Mimsy Farmer as Gloria, Duke's girlfriend
  • Laurie Mock as Tina, Tom Phillips' daughter
  • Jeffrey Bryon (credited as Tim Stafford) as Jamie, Tom Phillips' son
  • George Ives as Lank Dailey, owner of Dailey's Motel and the Arena roadhouse
  • William Mims as another family man who is a careless driver himself; he eventually has a losing encounter on the lonely road with another driver, who might (or might not) be Duke
  • Hortense Petra and Peter Oliphant as his wife and son
  • Paul Genge as an unnamed California Highway Patrol officer
  • Charles P. Thompson as Charley, the elderly filling-station owner
  • Harry Hickox as Bill, Tom Phillips' brother

Dana Andrews (January 1, 1909 - December 17, 1992) was an American film actor. ... Jeanne Crain Jeanne Elizabeth Crain (May 25, 1925 – December 14, 2003) was an American actress. ... Mimsy Farmer (28 February 1945 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American actress who played the lead role in Spencers Mountain (1960) and More (1969), the first feature film with a Pink Floyd soundtrack. ... Peter Oliphant is an American actor best known for playing Freddie Helper on The Dick Van Dyke Show. ... Charles P. Thompson (January 2, 1891 - October 26, 1979) was a Broadway theatre and Television actor. ...

Reception

This film received nearly universal scorn from critics but had a profitable run, probably as much because of its very modest budget as because of any artistic merit that the film might have had. It received no major award nominations.


2007 DVD Release

Hot Rods to Hell premiered on DVD June 26, 2007 from Warner Brothers Home Video. This DVD release has been modified from the original 4:3 (1.33:1) aspect ratio to a widescreen format of 16:9 (approximately 1.85:1). This was done by both cropping the top and bottom of the frame, however, more information on the sides is viewable from the original 4:3 television presentation as well. Warner Bros. ... The aspect ratio of a two-dimensional shape is the ratio of its longer dimension to its shorter dimension. ... The inner box (green) is the format used in most pre-1952 films and pre-widescreen television. ...


External links


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