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Let’s Rock (1958).

July 25, 2008

The Scoop:
This is a rock ‘n’ roll movie? Uh…. I think not. Instead, the film perfectly encapsulates that bland post-Elvis, pre-Beatles period in pop music when everything on the charts was saccharine-coated and aimed at pleasing the parents, not the kids.

“Let’s Rock” follows boring balladeer Tony Adane (Julius LaRosa) as he tries to stay true to his “art” by resisting the shift to rock ‘n’ roll, only to eventually give in at the end and get the girl (Phyllis Newman). In short, strictly by-the-numbers work from writer Hal Hackady and director Harry Foster. That’s fairly par for the course in these early rock ‘n’ roll movies, which get their strength on the backs of their musical performances. These films were merely meant to showcase the recording artists — any plot we might get is purely incidental.

However, the examples of “rock ‘n’ roll” on display here (performed by Paul Anka and the like) aren’t much different than Tony’s tunes. In fact, the rockingest song in the film is the innocuous “At the Hop,” performed by Danny and Juniors. The only reason to even consider watching this, besides the appearances by the young Wink Martindale and Della Reese, is the ongoing (purely unintentional but amusing) homoerotic subtext between Tony and his “entourage.”

Best Bit:
The weird dancing kids in the park.

Side Note:
Reese didn’t appear on screen again for another 11 years, when she hosted her own TV series, “Della,” starting in 1969, and didn’t make another film until “Psychic Killer” in 1975.

Companion Viewing:
All the better early rock ‘n’ roll films.


Take a Look:
Here’s a totally low-tech clip of Reese singing “Lovelyville”:

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