American Hot Wax

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American Hot Wax
American Hot Wax.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Floyd Mutrux
Produced by Art Linson
Written by John Kaye
Starring Tim McIntire
Fran Drescher
Jay Leno
Laraine Newman
Moosie Drier
Jeff Altman
John Lehne
Richard Perry
Chuck Berry
Jerry Lee Lewis
Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Frankie Ford
Charles Greene
Music by Kenny Vance
Cinematography William A. Fraker
Edited by Ronald J. Fagan
Melvin Shapiro
Danford B. Greene (sup)
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • March 17, 1978 (1978-03-17)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $11,000,000[1]

American Hot Wax is a 1978 biopic film directed by Floyd Mutrux and written by John Kaye, telling the story of pioneering disc jockey Alan Freed, who was instrumental in introducing and popularizing rock and roll in the 1950s. Freed is often credited with coining the term "Rock 'n' Roll." The film starred Tim McIntire as Freed, Fran Drescher as Freed's feisty secretary, Laraine Newman as a young aspiring songwriter (based on Carole King), Melanie Chartoff as a young singer, Jeff Altman as a sleazy record promoter who is told off by everybody he approaches, Jay Leno as Freed's mischievous limousine driver, Moosie Drier in a warmly reviewed performance as the head of a Buddy Holly fan club with at least 5,000 members, and a walk-on part by a teenaged Cameron Crowe. It also featured performances by Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Ford, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and the Brooklyn Dreams as "Professor La Plano and The Planotones". The film was not a box-office success.

A&M Records released a two-record soundtrack album featuring the Brooklyn Paramount performances from the movie on record one (in stereo) and original recordings used throughout the film on record two (all in mono). The soundtrack reached number 31 on the Billboard charts, leaving some to wonder just how that was possible with such meagre public exposure.

Producer Art Linson discusses the movie's production and failure at the box office in his book What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line.



The Chesterfields

The Delights

Timmy and The Tulips (erroneously shown as "Timmy and The Tangerines" in the end credits)

The Planotones


The film was a box office bomb. However, head of Paramount Michael Eisner loved the movie and saw it nearly a dozen times.[2] Critic Pauline Kael praised the performances and approvingly called the film "a super B-movie" and "trashily enjoyable".[3]


  1. ^ Box Office Information for American Hot Wax. The Numbers. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  2. ^ What to Do for an Encore: CRITIC AT LARGE Champlin, Charles. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 July 1978: h1.
  3. ^ Kael, Pauline (2011) [1991]. 5001 Nights at the Movies. New York: Henry Holt and Company. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-250-03357-4. 

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