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Eddy Crane (Tony Travis) is a down-on-his-luck kid in the late 50s/early 60s who, along with his Five-Bad Band pack of hoodlums -- Mooney (Peter Breck), Red, Dark Chick Iris and Satellite Character Chuck -- lives only to rob convenience stores for petty cash and then lounge around. That is, until one day when talent scout Harry Bayliss happens upon Eddy singing ("You call that singin'? That was nothin'!" You can say that again...) and quickly tries to sign him to a big record deal. Eddy is at first bitter and reluctant but eventually agrees, on the stipulation that his hoodlum gang can stay with him.
Off to downtown L.A. where Eddy meets the Helen, Bayliss' secretary, setting up the inevitable Love Triangle. As Helen begins grooming the rather rough (or so we're told) Eddy into a straight-laced star, he begins to see the futility of his Beatnik ways. His Poisonous Friends, on the other hand, are bound and determined not to let him leave them behind in his rise to the top, and continue to create mischief and mayhem -- which culminates when Ax Crazy Mooney shoots a barkeeper dead during an altercation, thus jeopardizing not only Eddy's career, but his entire future.
This film contains examples of the following:
- Ax Crazy: Mooney.
- Betty and Veronica: Helen and Iris.
- Did Not Do the Research: The film was apparently made by people who had no idea what a beatnik actually was, and thought the term just referred to general criminals.
- Downer Ending: Eddy sacrifices his career to atone for his past crimes.
- Drunken Montage: After Eddy (briefly) drops out of show business and breaks up with Helen, he takes a Noir Walk through Los Angeles. As it turns out, though, he's not actually drunk (that we know of).
- Drives Like Crazy: Iris invokes this deliberately, just for kicks.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: After Red gets shot, it's a toss-up between him and Mooney as to who's better at making their own gravy and splashing it up on film.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Mooney's threat to the hotel manager: "I'm gonna MOOOOOOON YOU!!"
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Peter Breck as Mooney.
- Written and directed by ... Paul Frees? Yes, that Paul Frees.
- Informed Ability: Eddy's prozaic stage presence somehow sends teenage girls (and guys too) into screaming fits of Beatle-esque hysteria.
Eddy: You call that singin'? That was nothin'!
- Informed Attractiveness: Helen. To be completely fair, of course, she's merely following the styles and trends of her day; but her too-huge eyes, tightly pulled back platinum hair and pancake makeup provide her with an unfortunate resemblance to a skull. The harsh lighting and the black-and-white film stock aren't doing her any favors either.
- Large Ham: Peter Breck, again, as Mooney.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Mooney
killed that fat barkeepKILLED THAT FAT BARKEEP!
- Poisonous Friend: Once again, Peter Breck as Mooney. He avoids being The Starscream soley because he doesn't want to be a leader: "Leaders got too much on their minds, man... I only got time for one thing --" [incomprehensible hand gesture; Evil Laugh]]
- Satellite Character: Chuck the Fifth Beatnik.
- Shopping Montage: Helen takes Eddy out on the town to get him cleaned up for his big break.
- Slasher Smile: Still again, Peter Breck as Mooney.
- This Is Sparta: I KILLED THAT FAT BARKEEP!
- In addition, the diner is on FAWTH STREET!
- Word Salad Lyrics: "Sideburns don't need your sympathy..." Well, I can see how WHAT???
- Worst News Judgment Ever: Mooney thinks the barkeep murder will make him as famous as Eddy.