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Speed to Spare (May 14, 1948)

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Richard Arlen in Speed to Spare

Released on May 14, 1948: A girl chasing, car racing stunt man gets a job driving a semi and tries to survive the mechanic that would like to see him dead.

Directed by William Berke

The Actors: Richard Arlen (Cliff Jordan), Jean Rogers (Mary McGee), Richard Travis (Jerry McGee), Roscoe Karns (Kangaroo), Nanette Parks (Jane Chandler), Pat Phelan (Pete Simmons), Ian MacDonald (Pusher Wilkes), Paul Harvey (Al Simmons), John Bagni (truck driver), George Eldredge (truck driving instructor), Roy Gordon (Mr. Maxton), Sol Gorss (Joe), Donald Kerr (Checker), Gloria Marlen (Molly, waitress), Alphonse Martell (headwaiter in restaurant), Lee Phelps (waiter), Brick Sullivan (truck driver in coffee shop), Eddy Waller (Charlie Blane, explosives driver), Guy Wilkerson (Pop, truckers cafe owner).


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In the mid-1960's dad was preaching in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and I was a young teen. One summer at the Crawford County Fair I was fortunate enough to get a little job washing pots and pans at a food joint. I remember three things about that summer adventure besides the long sweaty hours over a stainless steel sink with my hands in soapy water. I remember working on Wednesday, and when I was finished at eight o'clock, I got to walk the mile or so home because Wednesday was church night and anyone who could give me a ride home was in church. I also remember my big sister Carol taking me on my first big ride - the Ferris wheel. I am here to tell you that as a young teen I was pretty stupid . . . as we hit the top of the wheel and headed back down, all I could see was the roof of a small red tent near the bottom of the wheel, and in my young and dumb mind I saw Carol and I falling uncontrolled into that tent roof to our death. I shut my eyes tight and screamed bloody murder until the wise Ferris wheel operator stopped the wheel and asked if I would like to get off. I wasted no time in jumping off, letting Carol finish the ride by herself. As an adult I grew to love the thrill of amusement park rides, and spent many happy days at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio thrilling to the biggest, baddest rides that existed.

The third thing I remember about that county fair was the show. I got to watch the famous Joie Chitwood Thrill Show that was appearing as the main attraction at the fair. I saw cars wheeling around the track on two wheels, and cars jumping through hoops of fire, and doing things that made a young boy's mind burst with excitement and wonder. As cars and trucks got more powerful from the late 1940's through the 1960's and turned into 'muscle cars,' they became the objects of desire for many a boy whether he was 16 or 60. This movie is about a daring stunt driver with a travelling show who quits because the owner is broke and cannot pay him his wages. He hooks up with an old friend who now works for a large trucking company and gets a job driving a semi for the company. Of course there will be pretty girls, jealous boyfriends, and a dastardly mechanic that tries to get our hero, but only succeeds in giving him an opportunity to show us his driving skills and daring exploits as he uses his thrilling driving talents to avoid death and destruction on the highway. Grab a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and drizzle plenty of real melted butter on it and enjoy a time in America when driving the roads was a manly adventure full of adventure and danger.

Richard Arlen Richard Arlen and Jean Rogers
Richard Arlen - 1948 Richard Arlen and Jean Rogers
Richard Arlen and Nanette Parks 
Richard Arlen and Nanette Parks in Speed to Spare