Thunder Alley (film)

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Thunder Alley
Thunder Alley 1967.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byRichard Rush
Produced bySamuel Z. Arkoff
James H. Nicholson
Burt Topper
Written bySy Salkowitz
StarringAnnette Funicello
Fabian Forte
Music byMike Curb
Davie Allan
CinematographyMonroe P. Askins
Edited byKenneth G. Crane
Ronald Sinclair
Distributed byAmerican International Pictures
Release date
  • March 22, 1967 (1967-03-22)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.4 million[1]
Box office$1,250,000 (US/ Canada)[2]

Thunder Alley is a 1967 film about auto racing directed by Richard Rush and starring Annette Funicello and Fabian Forte. It was released by American International Pictures.

Plot[edit]

A race car driver, Tommy Callahan, retires after a blackout causes the death of another driver on the motorway. After the accident, he begins working at a Pete Madsen's "Thrill Circus" as a stunt driver. There he meets the proprietor's daughter, Francie, who also drives there, and her boyfriend Eddie Sands.

Bored by his new job, Tommy begins training Eddie to be a professional. Eddie picks it up quickly, winning his first race. This leads to Tommy's gold-digging ex-girlfriend Annie Blaine scheming to steal the hot young driver away from Francie.

Despite their quarreling, plus Francie's concern over his previous blackouts, she and Tommy are paired up during a 500-mile race. On the track, Tommy feels another blackout coming on, but manages to hang on. He comes to realize that the fainting spells are a psychological reaction to a childhood trauma.

Francie goads ex-fiance Eddie into reckless maneuvers on the track, causing him to crash. Tommy wins the race, and her as well.

Principal cast[edit]

Actor Role
Annette Funicello Francie Madsen
Fabian Forte Tommy Callahan
Diane McBain Annie Blaine
Warren Berlinger Eddie Sands
Jan Murray Pete Madsen
Stanley Adams Mac Lunsford

Production[edit]

The film was originally known as Malibu 500[1] and Rebel 500.[3] It was the third of a seven-picture deal between AIP and Fabian.[4]

The director was Richard Rush who had made a number of lower budgeted films. He got the job through his agent, who was married to Annette Funicello at the time. Rush says AIP "were fond of my work.... They were the teenage exploitation studio... Since I was very rebellious, my characters were always very rebellious, which seemed to be the keynote of American youth at that time. My pictures worked in the marketplace."[5]

Rush later said it was one of his few films "that I didn't have any freedom on." He says the main problem was when he was hired the producer had already spent three racing seasons shooting car racing footage. "They came to me with that part already done. Since it’s a racing film, it didn’t have what I was hoping would be my trademark, even at that early stage. So I never felt it was completely my film. It was like writing the story around the footage."[5]

Filming began on 1 November 1966.[6]

Reception[edit]

Contemporary reviews were mediocre.[7] However AIP liked Rush's work and he made two other films for that company, Psych-Out and The Savage Seven.[5]

Quentin Tarantino is an admirer of the film. "Richard Rush is a terrific director and stunt man and I actually used part of the score from this film in the big car chase scene in my movie Death Proof. It’s a real Sixties hard-driving piece of music with bongos and a syntar. That’s really cool."[8]

Soundtrack[edit]

The film features the song "When You Get What You Want" by Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner, performed by Annette Funicello. The duo also wrote the title song "Thunder Alley", performed by The Band Without a Name.[9] The song "Riot in Thunder Alley", by Eddie Beram, from the film also appears in the film and soundtrack album for Death Proof.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tide Running Out for Beach Films, In for Protest Movies Thomas, Bob. Los Angeles Times 12 Feb 1966: b7
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  3. ^ Filmways Inks Jack Clayton Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 12 July 1966: c9.
  4. ^ Fabian Role Assigned Los Angeles Times 4 Nov 1966: C20.
  5. ^ a b c Murray, Noel (June 13, 2011). "Interview with Richard Rush". AV Club.
  6. ^ MOVIE CAL SHEET: SCHALLERT JOINS 'TOMBSTONE' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Oct 1966: 19.
  7. ^ The Screen: Neighborhood Houses Get 'Thunder Alley' New York Times 14 Sep 1967: 55.
  8. ^ "QUENTIN TARANTINO: MY FAVOURITE RACING MOVIES" F1 Social Diary 21 August, 2013 Archived 2014-07-07 at Archive.today accessed 5 July 2014
  9. ^ Thunder Alley (1967) - Soundtracks

External links[edit]