|Directed by||Richard Rush|
|Produced by|| Samuel Z. Arkoff |
James H. Nicholson
|Written by||Sy Salkowitz|
|Starring|| Annette Funicello |
|Music by|| Mike Curb |
|Cinematography||Monroe P. Askins|
|Edited by||Kenneth G. Crane|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
|Box office||$1,250,000 (US/ Canada)|
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.
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.
|Annette Funicello||Francie Madsen|
|Fabian Forte||Tommy Callahan|
|Diane McBain||Annie Blaine|
|Warren Berlinger||Eddie Sands|
|Jan Murray||Pete Madsen|
|Stanley Adams||Mac Lunsford|
The film was originally known as Malibu 500and Rebel 500. It was the third of a seven-picture deal between AIP and Fabian.
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."
AIP was then run by the team of Sam Arkoff and James H NIcholson. Rush says before filming "Sam Arkoff took me aside and said, "Look, [Jim] Nicholson has got this girlfriend, and I don’t want her on the picture." I said that was okay. A while later, Nicholson pulled me aside and said, "Richard, there's this girl Id like you to use on the picture..."."(It is likely this was Susan Hart. )
Filming began on 1 November 1966.
Rush later said "Fabian turned out to be much better than my expectations. I had that jaundiced view of, "Oh, it's Fabian — a manufactured talent." But he wasn't like that; he was a smart kid, worked hard, and was willing to do whatever you asked him to. Annette had poise and great ability, and was a mini-movie star."
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 Burt Topper 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."
Rush said, "The part of the film that deals with the actors is mine, and the rest is Burt’s. It sort of divorced me from that sense of proprietorship that I have over all of my other films.
Contemporary reviews were mediocre.However AIP liked Rush's work and he made two other films for that company, Psych-Out and The Savage Seven .
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."
According to Diabolique magazine:
Thunder Alley is a far more cohesive and successful film than Fireball 500 – a solid drama with a thumping soundtrack... and Annette Funicello is really good – but then it’s a strong role, perhaps her best ever for AIP. Fabian is also strong – cocky, arrogant, but haunted and basically decent; it’s one of his best parts.
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.The song "Riot in Thunder Alley", by Eddie Beram, from the film also appears in the film and soundtrack album for Death Proof .
Fabiano Anthony Forte, professionally known as Fabian, is an American singer and actor.
American International Pictures (AIP) is an American motion picture production label of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and originally an independent film production and distribution company, prior to its acquisition by Filmways in 1979 and rebranding in 1980.
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Annette Joanne Funicello was an American actress and singer. Funicello began her professional career as a child performer at the age of twelve. She rose to prominence as one of the most popular Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club. As a teenager, she transitioned to a successful career as a singer with the pop singles "O Dio Mio", "First Name Initial", "Tall Paul" and "Pineapple Princess", as well as establishing herself as a film actress, popularizing the successful "Beach Party" genre alongside co-star Frankie Avalon during the mid-1960s.
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Thomas Lee Kirk is an American former actor. He is best known for his performances in a number of highly popular films made by Walt Disney Studios such as Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, as well as the beach-party films of the mid-1960s.
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The Beach party film was an American film genre of feature films produced and released between 1963 and 1968, created by American International Pictures (AIP), beginning with their surprise hit, Beach Party in July 1963. With this film, AIP is credited with creating the genre. In addition to the AIP films, several contributions to the genre were produced and released by major and independent studios alike. According to various sources, the genre comprises over 30 films, with the lower-budget AIP films being the most profitable.
Richard Rush was an American film director, scriptwriter, and producer. He is known for directing The Stunt Man, for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director. His film Color of Night won a Golden Raspberry Award as the worst film of 1994, but Maxim magazine also singled the film out as having the best sex scene in film history. Rush, whose directing career began in 1960, also directed Freebie and the Bean, a police buddy comedy/drama starring Alan Arkin and James Caan. He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1990 film Air America.
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Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine is a 1965 American International Pictures comedy film, made in Pathécolor, directed by Norman Taurog. It stars Vincent Price, Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, Susan Hart and Jack Mullaney, and features Fred Clark. It is a parody of the then-popular spy film trend, made using actors from AIP's beach party and Edgar Allan Poe films.
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Pajama Party is a 1964 beach party film starring Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello. This is the fourth in a series of seven beach films produced by American International Pictures. The other films in this series are Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966).
Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs is a 1966 Eurospy comedy film, made in Technicolor and directed by Mario Bava. Serving as a sequel to two unrelated films, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine and Two Mafiosi Against Goldginger, the film stars Vincent Price, Fabian, Francesco Mulé, Laura Antonelli, and the Italian comedy team Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia.
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