Shake, Rattle and Rock
REVIEWED BY: Kami Posted on 03/09/2008
Its 1956 and rock and roll is here to stay. So AIP decide to cash in with this comedy about the rockers vs. the squares in small town America. Our hero, Garry Nelson played by Mannix himself, Mike “Touch” Connors is the host of a TV show called Rock, Roll & Shake where the local kids get to dance to the grooviest tunes of the day. This wanton display of lust and athletic ability is frowned upon by the local busybodies ably represented by Eustace Fentwick III and his motley crew including Hiram the funeral director and Georgianna Fitzdingle and her henpecked hubby Horace, played beautifully by scene stealer Raymond Hatton. Actually all four of these characters should be arrested for the way they chew up the scenes!
Hiram played by character actor Percy Helton in particular always raises a laugh as he measures people up for coffins or offers them deals on their funerals. They set out to ban this dangerous rock and roll stuff just on the principal of it. Of course Gazza also has a main squeeze who it turns out is, the Fitzdingle’s niece June! (but of course). And Gaz ain’t going to give up his show or his music or June. He sees that the kids are doing good now, he’s got them organized into clubs and they dance and they do arts and craft and they’re no longer being juvies so he’s gonna make a stand, gosh darn it. There’s a bad guy too, Bugsy who’s most upset when he gets out of three months in the slammer to find out his gang of juvenile delinquents are now doing arts and crafts and dancing and raising money and drops the immortal line, “Do you see what’s happening today? The next thing you know the kids will be going to school!” And then there’s Axe, played by Winnie The Pooh, Sterling Holloway who is the hippest, jivest, mofo-est hipster of all, speaking in a lingo only he (and the kids) understand and just cuttin’ it up all the way. He’s not down with the squares or Bugsy and he wants the kids to keep on jiving and gluing little bits of paper together too.
Things come to a head ‘tween Fentwick III, the Fitzdingles and Gaz when the kids go on the rampage and tear up Fentwick’s car after Bugsy starts a fight at a concert. Of course, being 1956 and AIP instead of going to jail, we get a television trial where the viewer can decide if this evil rock and roll should be stopped! See Gaz won’t give up the names of the kids who did the damage, he’s got too much integrity for that (and he’s still trying to get into June’s pants)so we get the trial of the century with Axe chewing up the words(and Garry translating for the judge) Bugsy putting his foot in it, the kids delivering signed confessions just in time to save our Gaz from getting hisself in trouble with the judge (see, they understood him, he’s a man of integrity – and he still wants to get into June’s pants) some ballet dancing with a piano playing nerd giving us some Chopin who is then shown how to speed said Chopin up so it becomes rock and roll (bet you didn’t know that Chopin was a bodgie) footage of savages dancing and general cheap laughs courtesy of Horace and crew.
The finale comes about though when Gaz shows footage of 20s jazz dancing including the ‘black bottom’ and lo an behold there’s Aunt Georgianna shakin’ her tail feathers as a youngster so it seems everything is okay after all. The kids dance, the oldies dance and the credits roll without us the audience ever finding out just how the people were going to vote anyway. No sms back then. Chuck in live performances from Fats Domino, Tommy Charles (?), Annita Ray (don’t know) and the real king of rock and roll Joe Turner (ok mimed performances then) and you got a masterpiece of 1950s Samuel Arkoff rock and roll exploitation. And at only 75 minutes it don’t overstay its welcome either, unlike Hiram the funeral director.
DIRECTOR(S): Edward L Cahn | COUNTRY: USA | YEAR 1956 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): DV1 | RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes | ASPECT RATIO: 1.37:1 | REGION: 0 | DISCS: 1
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