March 20th, 2008

ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK (1956) ** ½

Bill Haley and His Comets star in this paper thin but fun musical from producer Sam (The Giant Claw) Katzman and director Fred F. (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers) Sears.  A wet behind the ears promoter (Johnny Johnston) scours the countryside looking for the next big thing and finds Haley and His Comets playing in a barn to a sold out crowd.  He instantly loves the band and their sound (not to mention their cute as a button manager played by Lisa Gaye) and tries to make them famous, despite the backstage scheming of a saucy booking agent (Alix Talton).  He catches up to “Mr. Rock n’ Roll” Alan Freed who agrees to help publicize the group, which leads to them hitting the big time, and to Johnston finding true love with Gaye. 

 

Haley does the title tune (which was first heard in the previous year’s Blackboard Jungle) as well as EIGHT others and The Platters do the classics, “Only You” and “The Great Pretender”.  Some of the other bands (like Tony Martinez and Freddie Bell and His Bellboys) are pretty lame, and the “plot” is purely grade C fluff, but whenever Haley or The Platters are rocking out, the flick can’t miss.  There’s also lots of great slangy dialogue, like “Give me some skin!”, “After while crocodile!" and my favorite, “It’s like Christopher Columbus said, ‘The world is no square’” to be had as well. 

 

When the film was first premiered, riots broke out and rowdy teenagers slashed up theater seats and broke out dancing in the aisles.  You probably won’t have quite the same reaction, but it’s still harmless fun.  Sears also directed The Werewolf the very same year for Katzman.