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  Stock Car Vroom!
Year: 1955
Director: Wolf Rilla
Stars: Paul Carpenter, Rona Anderson, Susan Shaw, Harry Fowler, Robert Rietty, Paul Whitsun-Jones, Sabrina, Alma Taylor, Patrick Jordan, John McLaren, Lorrae Desmond, Frank Thornton, John Pike, Reginald Barratt, Ann Croft, Frank Forsyth, Frazer Hines
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A car is left unattended in this London street as the driver pops into a shop to run an errand, but all the time two thieves need to steal the vehicle, and there's nothing she can do about it. Almost nothing, that is: she contacts the police and the boss of the ne'erdowells, Turk McNeil (Paul Whitsun-Jones), knows very well that when they show up outside his office with an offer to turn the car into a stock racer, the law will be taking an interest and keeping an eye out. So what's the solution?

This is where the plot gets complicated, as in barely over an hour they packed in enough story for a film twice its length. What they did not have was a budget for a film that long, so what you got was the lower half of a double bill from British B-movie specialists Butchers, here in their element with a thriller that never did anything particularly spectacular, but provided enough thrills and spills to keep the audience in their seats for the duration, though being well aware that a more expensive and starry movie was folllowing on must have helped in that department.

This purported to blow the lid off the seamier side of stock car racing, then a fairly popular sport a few smashed automobiles away from a full-on demolition derby which replaced it in the public's affections - well, those members of the public who were interested in seeing car crashes staged for entertainment, at any rate. Though here you had to wait till there was about twenty minutes to go in a sixty minute work until anybody got behind the wheel of one of those souped-up roadsters, so while you could accurately describe this as an action movie of its day, that action was meted out on the stingy side.

Our real star was Paul Carpenter, offering the traditional, imported transatlantic glamour by dint of his American accent which was actually a Canadian accent but few in Blighty would have cared much to notice, it was enough that this British flick was almost American thanks to his presence. He played Larry Duke, an ex-racer who is now looking after the garage of his deceased best friend, which happens to be part run by his daughter Katie Glebe (Rona Anderson), herself a nurse. But Turk wants to take this business over, and is willing to use underhand means to do so, though he might balk at actual murder.

Not that his underlings would, however. Told you this was complicated, and it only gets more so with such distractions as one of the henchmen, Monty (Harry Fowler), accidentally crushing his hand in the door of the stolen car and ending up in hospital at Katie's insistence, though bizarrely he ends up in the children's ward. Even after she is so nice to him, he still means to mess up her life: there's gratitude for you. Throw in Robert Rietty as an Italian mechanic, much play made of Larry's unfamiliarity with British parlance (though he still uses terms like "Throw it in the dustbin!" - did they forget about those bits?), and then-current celebrity Sabrina dubbed as a Cockney sparra, and you have a snapshot of the aspirations of the lower end of the U.K. movie lark. Sabrina may be best known now for a joke on The Goon Show: "Sabrina!" "No, it's me with me arms folded!", but that's by the by. Music by Wilfred Burns.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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