American Releasing Corporation
Directed by John Ireland and Edward Sampson
Produced by Roger Corman
Written by Jean Howell and Jerome Odlum from a story by Roger Corman
Last year my Better In The Dark co-host Thomas Deja and I got the idea for a theme for the summer of 2012 which we called “The Summer of Speed” The idea was to do episodes reviewing movies based around cars or where cars play a major role. Naturally we immediately hit on doing an episode on the entire “Fast and Furious” series which you can find here. I also saw this as an opportunity to do the same theme here at The Ferguson Theater and review movies I’ve been meaning to review for the longest but have been neglecting. Movies such as “Speed Racer” “The Cannonball Run” “Smokey and The Bandit” and “Greased Lightning”. Now being anal as I am, I insisted to Tom that I wanted to start with the original THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS made in 1955. He said I could go knock myself out and now I see why. This movie does not follow The Ferguson Rule Of Truth In Movie Advertising in that it is neither Fast nor is it Furious.
Frank Webster (John Ireland) is a man on the run. Doing time for a murder he didn’t commit, he manages to bust outta the hoosegow and take it on the lam. The dragnet cast out for him is extensive and closing on him fast. He needs a quick way out of his situation and finds it thanks to Connie Adair (Dorothy Malone) who is driving a Jaguar. While sitting in a roadside diner, Frank overhears Connie telling the waitress that she’s on her way to participate in a cross country race where the finish line is in Mexico. Frank sees this as a perfect cover to get away. Frank takes Connie hostage and they head for the race.
The bulk of the movie is taken up with Connie pleading for Frank to let her go even though there are numerous opportunities where she could get away but doesn’t take advantage of it. And for a guy who’s trying not to arouse any suspicion, Frank does a lot of suspicious things that cause many of the people he meets at the race to raise their eyebrows and ask Connie, “Hey, you sure this guy is okay?”
Turns out that the race officials have changed the rules so that women can’t participate in the race saying that they’ve deemed it “too dangerous for a woman.” So Frank has to put himself in the race so that he won’t raise any more eyebrows than he already has. It’s during his qualifying run for the race where Frank and Connie start to bond a little. He tells her what really happened to get him thrown in jail and she urges him to give himself up and even offers to help. Frank quite naturally tells her to get stuffed. Now somehow through all this back-and-forth, they manage to fall in love. So much so that Frank jeopardizes his freedom to drive Connie’s car in what has to be the most boring car race I’ve seen on film.
Thankfully the movie is only 73 minutes long so if you do decide to watch it, it’s mercifully short. Apparently the producers of the Vin Diesel remake bought the rights to the movie just because they wanted the title. And I can understand that: it’s a good title. One that is wasted on this movie. It’s worth watching if you’re a Roger Corman fan and want to watch this because of his involvement in it but that’s about I can recommend it for. I really didn’t care a poobah’s pizzle about anybody in this movie and while Dorothy Malone tries her best to inject some life into her scenes with John Ireland, he’s no help at all as his idea of acting is to just stand there and look constipated. Their romance is entirely unconvincing and when I got to the end of the movie I howled, “That’s it?”
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is available for streaming on Netflix and you can also see it the entire movie on YouTube which I’ve provided for you right here if you care to see it. If you don’t want to, I quite understand.