Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Fireball 500

Fireball 500 - posterCinema Monolith: 3/10
IMDb: 4.8/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: BOMB

Released on June 7, 1966
Not rated
92 minutes

Directed by William Asher

Written by William Asher and Leo Townsend

Cast: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Fabian, Chill Wills, Julie Parrish, Harvey Lembeck, Mary Hughes, Douglas Henderson, Baynes Barron, Sandy Reed, Patti Chandler, Len Lesser, Vin Scully (voice)

Believe it or not, perpetual teens Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello didn’t spend the entirety of their mutual cinematic careers frolicking on Southern California beaches and singing their happy little hearts out; at some point in the mid-1960s they decided it was high time to grow up, so they left the surf and sand behind and ventured into the exciting adult world of…stock car racing?

Yes, stock car racing, and just like that, after six beach party films together, Frankie and Annette had graduated from romantic frivolity and comedic hijinks to debauchery and illegal bootlegging, in this half-goofy, half-serious drive-in nonsense from American-International, which was aimed squarely at the rebellious teenage crowd that probably wanted nothing at all to do with it. However, a rebellious teenage gearhead might’ve shown some interest; the film was spilling over with souped-up cars and race footage, and Avalon’s modified ’66 Plymouth Barracuda—the Fireball 500 of the title—was actually a pretty cool hunk of machinery, even for non-enthusiasts.

Frankie plays Dave Owens, a stock car racer who not only battles fellow crooner Fabian for supremacy on the track, but for the affections of Jane, played by the lovely Annette; the famed von Zipper himself, Harvey Lembeck, is the racing promoter who dabbles in moonshine on the side, and tricks Avalon into hauling the stuff under the watchful eyes of two stern federal agents. For whatever reason, the filmmakers chose to ditch the harmless good vibes of the duo’s previous films, and concentrated instead on heavier drama and a very cheeky level of sexuality.

None of which, unfortunately, seemed to work. Frankie was fresh and brash, Annette played hard-to-get, and Fabian was the jerk who got in the way; these dramatics played out against a backdrop of songs, fistfights, and hopelessly-mismatched race footage that just went on and on and on. Thus, the question that begs to be asked is, is any of it worth your time? Well, if you’re a completist of the Frankie and Annette film canon, and love the sight of automobiles endlessly smashing the crap out of each other, then yes, indulge. Otherwise, I think Muscle Beach Party might make for a more satisfying rental.  (3/10)

Fireball 500 - photo final 2

2 comments on “Fireball 500

  1. Julie Dunning
    5/29/13

    Fun reading! 🙂

    • Todd B
      7/17/16

      I have no idea why it’s taken me over three YEARS to respond to this, but I apologize…and I’m glad it was a fun read!

Feel free to comment, you readers of the Monolith!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address and click the button below to become a bona fide Cinema Monolith follower. C'mon, what's the worst that could happen?

Join 137 other followers

Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 159

From the Monolith: 87

Movies by Decade

1920s – 0
1930s – 4
1940s – 11
1950s – 22
1960s – 30
1970s – 22
1980s – 25
1990s – 5
2000s – 10
2010s – 30

Movies by Genre

Action/Adventure – 28
Comedy – 33
Crime – 9
Documentary – 1
Drama – 16
Horror – 28
Martial Arts – 0
Musical – 1
Mystery/Thriller – 14
Romance – 3
Sci-Fi/Fantasy – 19
Western – 6

Movies by Rating

10 star – 9
9 star – 19
8 star – 23
7 star – 22
6 star – 14
5 star – 15
4 star – 16
3 star – 12
2 star – 15
1 star – 11
0 star – 3

Blogathons I’ve Joined

The Coolest Links

%d bloggers like this: