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"The Choppers" - Teenage Car Crime Drama
released on November 30, 1961
The Actors: Arch Hall Jr. (Jack 'Cruiser' Bryan), Robert Paget (Torch Lester), Burr Middleton (Tony 'the Snooper' Bonelli), Rex Holman (Flip Johnson), Chuck Barnes (Ben Shore), Tom Brown (Tom Hart, insurance investigator), Marianne Gaba (Liz), William Shaw (Police Lieutenant Frank Fleming), Bruno VeSota (Moose McGill), Britt Wood (Cowboy Boggs), Dee Gee Green (Gypsy), Richard Cowl (Torch's Father), Patrick Hawley (Police Officer Jenks), Arch Hall Sr (reporter Jim Bradford), Carmella N. Hall (Tina), Bill Rolland (man handing Bradford a microphone)
Hang On, We're Gonna Play 'Chicken'
It started with the theft of an automobile hub cap and ended in the violent death of five people, including two police officers. In the 1930's and 1940's the gangsters were men . . . usually men from the rough side of life who struggled for their next meal in the tough Great Depression days. These men fought tough and created gangs that would extort money from small businessmen or run nightclubs with illegal booze or steal shipments of merchandise to sell on the black market. After World War II ended a new kind of citizen emerged . . . The great middle-class, and their 'Baby Boom' kids, who became teenagers and created a new and unique type of gangster . . . Teenage boys and girls . . . Juvenile Delinquents . . . and as often as not there was a new target for their crimes - insurance companies. In this unique crime story that would not be believable ten years earlier or ten years later, a group of teenage boys mostly from the 'good side' of life start out as mischievous lads stealing an attractive hub cap from an expensive car and with the help of a junk yard dealer become expert car choppers. They can spot a disabled automobile along a quiet country road and steal everything of value from the car in a matter of minutes, leaving only a bare skeleton where the new car once stood. Their leader is a rich young kid with a souped up hot rod and a revolutionary new means of communication - a huge walkie-talkie that enables him to be a mile up the road from the choppers and warn them of any approaching people or police. As in all good crime adventures the kids will finally make enough mistakes that they will be caught by the fuzz, but until then we can enjoy an amazing slice of 1961 small town America and see cars with tail fins larger than a killer shark and a custom Ford hot rod that any car enthusiast would give a large portion of their fortune to own today. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
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Make them laugh, make them cry, and back to laughter. What do people want to go to the theatre for? An emotional exercise . . . Mary Pickford
Some of my Favorites:
Probably my all time favorite movie, My Man Godfrey in 1936 not only gives us an comedic peek at the wealthiest and poorest during the Great Depression, but also was the vehicle for Carole Lombard to create the movie icon of the 'dumb blonde screwball comedy' that is a popular theme even today.
Meet John Doe - 1941: The Frank Capra classic set in the Great Depression era that pits the common man against the political masters. You can't be a fan of old movies until you watch Frank Capra's old movies. This one premiered seventy years ago, and it still stirs our emotions and thoughts now. It is as timely as if it were produced today.
Angel and the Bad Man - 1947: One of the great teachers of the Secret Law of Attraction is Dr. Joe Vitale . . . but before he was even born actor John Wayne paid for and produced this Cowboy Western that featured The Law of Attraction.
The Time of Your Life - 1948: James Cagney financed this strangely different feel-good movie, and he plays the part of Joe, a barfly that tries to live his life by making everyone around him better. I watch this one often, and try to become more like Joe every day.
Painted Faces - 1929: Comedy legend Joe E. Brown is a circus clown in a surprisingly serious role as a juror in a Christmas week murder trial who tells the other jurors a story that will change their verdicts in a pre-code drama that could not have been made a few years later.
Charade - 1963: It doesn't get much better than Cary Grant and Audry Hepburn in a tale of death, deception, spies and lost wealth as a woman tries to sort out the good guys from the bad guys in this cold-war spy thriller love story.