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The Lively Set (1964).

May 20, 2008

The Scoop:
This descendant of the ’50s road racing movies plays more like a beach party film on wheels, right down to the casting of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello look-alikes James Darren and Pamela Tiffin. There’s some wacky comedy, a little music, and lots of innocent flirtation between the boys and the girls — with the action transplanted from the beach to the race track.

The movie’s primary purpose seems to be to spread the good news about Chrysler’s then-new Turbine Car, which promised to be the wave of the future (and we all know how well that turned out). Here’s the plot, not that it matters: Casey (Darren) and his buddy Chuck (Doug McClure) are whiz kid mechanics who are hired by snobby playboy Stanford (Peter Mann) to build a super-fast car for the Big Race. Casey and Chuck come up with a jet car powered by a turbine engine of their own design (played by the Chrysler engine), but when a test run fails, Stanford fires them. So, they fix up the engine and use it to race against Stanford in the Big Race. Meanwhile Chuck’s sister Eadie (Tiffin) hangs around and makes google eyes at Casey.

This film also features appearances by racing stars, such as Mickey Thompson and Bill Krause. There are worse places to find mindless fun, I suppose…

Best Bit:
Casey’s recitation of drag racing rules as foreplay. What’s more, it works.

Side Note:
One song, “Look at Me,” was written by Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman and another, “Boss Barracuda,” is performed by the Surfaris — both feature lead vocals by future game show host Wink Martindale.

Companion Viewing:
“The Roadracers” (1959) and the original “Speed Racer” TV cartoon series.

Imperial After Dark.
Turbine Car User.

Take a Look:
Want to buy this guy’s copy of the DVD?

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