At a local cafe, teenager Dori (Tuesday Weld) is sitting with her best friend Arabella (Fran Manfred) as the other patrons dance to the music on the jukebox. Once the song finishes, Arabella asks her is she's planning on going to the high school prom, and Dori tells her she hasn't been asked by Tommy (Teddy Randazzo) yet, but her friend is confident that he will soon enough. Arabella wishes she were in love, and looks on as Dori stands up and sings a ballad about how she feels, then they get to discussing the fact that their rival, Gloria (Jacqueline Kerr) has bought a strapless blue ballgown to wear for the big occasion. How can Dori compete?
As you might have guessed from that introduction, the plot in Rock, Rock, Rock isn't exactly sensational, and indeed when the film is ploughing its way through its young protagonist's life complications, the entertainment value is by far at its weakest. However, if producers Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky (who wrote the script) were not too bothered about the framework to hang all this upon, then they did secure the help of Mr Rock and Roll himself, Alan Freed, here at the height of his powers as one of the most influential disc jockeys who ever lived. A few short years away from the unjustified payola scandal that wrecked his career and ended his life, we get the chance to see him in happier times here.
And along with him, he brought a host of talent who are rather unceremoniously plonked down into the movie. Future obsession for teenagers across the sixties Tuesday Weld, then thirteen, doesn't provide her own singing, but ridiculously opens her mouth for the vocal stylings of Connie Francis to emerge, utterly innappropriate and adding to the ramshackle tone of the production. Before they found money in British horror movies with their Amicus company, Rosenberg and Subotsky cashed in on whatever music phenomenon was popular, and this is probably their most celebrated effort in that line, but let's make it clear that this is no The Girl Can't Help It - it's just one step up from Rock Around the Clock.
So what this lacks in Bill Haley and the Comets, it gains in stars such as Chuck Berry (duck walk present and correct as he storms through "You Can't Catch Me"), Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (who perform twice, once for their classic "I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent), Johnny Burnette and his Trio (in his only film appearance) and the Flamingos - something even Dori's "square" father (Jack Collins) can appreciate. On the other hand, you might not be quite so receptive to Randazzo's out of place crooning and the truly headache-inducing squawking of little Ivy Schulman who yells out the non-hit "Baby Wants to Rock". There is also a measure of filler material from obscure acts, but nothing as offensive on the ears as Ivy.
Somewhat bizarrely, the storyline resolves itself into a lesson about the dangers of "neither a borrower nor a lender be" and with the acting on the level of an educational short film, it is oddly fitting that it should lecture the audience on the subject of banking. To get her hands on that prom dress, Dori doesn't let the fact that her father has only put up half of the cash and told her to earn the rest hold her back, no, she visits the bank and asks for a loan. When that doesn't work out, she decides to go into business for herself and effectively becomes a loan shark, not realising that one percent of a dollar is not another dollar. It all works out fine in the end in a mindbending display of double thinking, Dori gets her way and the guy, and rock and roll is reassuringly here to stay. Whether Rock, Rock, Rock was really meant to survive the fifties is irrelevant, it's a relic now, but an amusing one.