Dir. by John Ireland and Edward Sampson - 1 hr. 13 min.
by Clayton Hollifield
There is literally no reason to watch "The Fast and the Furious." Not even if you really liked the current Vin Diesel series of films. Not even if you like fast cars, not if you think that a short movie will be easy to get through, no reason whatsoever. You might suspect that it might be a lark, since you've seen all six F&F movies already over and over again, that you should watch the old film that the title originated from. Don't do it. Watching a car broken down on the side of the highway would be more entertaining. A nice nap would do you some good. Have you talked to your mother lately? I bet she'd appreciate a phone call.
In a diner somewhere in SoCal, Connie (Dorothy Malone) pulls up in her Jaguar, and some fat dude named Faber (Bruce Carlisle) wants to help her with something, but she's not interested. The talk of the diner is a murderer on the flee, a man who drove a truck driver off the road and to his mortal end. As it so happens, Frank Webster (John Ireland) is dining, gets itchy when they start talking about him, bops Faber in the head, and kidnaps Connie. They take off in her car, and they get really mad at each other until she gets Stockholm Syndrome, and he falls for her as well. In the meantime, we discover that Connie is a race-car driver (hence the Jag), and that the race she was supposed to enter has decided to ban all women drivers, because of the dangerousness of the course. But since the race ends in Mexico, coincidentally exactly where Frank is trying to get to, he ends up entering the race under an assumed identity.
If you're a fan of movies where the woman runs hot and cold until she finally gives into to her womanly desires (in this case, her desires apparently include being kidnapped and tied to stuff, and not being allowed to race because ovaries (even though the cars never even go that fast, and even if they did, the course is lined with hay bales, which we all know is state-of-the-art safety equipment)), still don't see "The Fast and the Furious." There are like five actual characters in the movie, so the vast majority of the film is devoted to Frank and Connie, and there's no spark whatsoever between them. It's not impossible to get away with making a movie that's not based on much more than the sexual tension between two people (I just watched "The Thomas Crown Affair," for crying out loud), or the appeal of some awesome cars. But the stars had better be crackling with energy and attraction, and Ireland and Malone are no Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.
Similarly, if you were hoping that the cars would be awesome, and that there might be some nifty driving sequences, refer to my recommendation in the first paragraph of this review. There's an antique race (which does have some cool looking super-old cars), but the main race is conducted with what appear to be roadsters. That's fine, but there's nothing that outstanding about the vehicles, certainly nothing iconic. On top of that, parts of the race are filmed on a soundstage, with footage of the other cars projected onto a screen behind the actual car. And the one thing that could have been cool, a wreck at the end of the film, is actually a shot of a toy car on a model set, and then a cut back to the real car gently resting against a tree.
I don't expect awesomeness out of a Roger Corman movie, there's only so far that you can stretch no budget and a ten day shoot (according to Wikipedia). But if you're stuck with no budget and poor technical abilities, you either need to go the full Ed Wood or get really clever. Neither of those things happened. And honestly, if Universal Studios hadn't bought the name to this film to use on a new series of car movies (and it is admittedly a pretty awesome title), probably no one would even be mildly curious about this film. It would have been rightfully forgotten, existing only as proof that if you are determined enough, you don't need talent, budget, or ideas to cobble together a feature length film. And that's a positive message for most. Instead, the new batch of movies have shined a light on a dark, best-forgotten corner of film history, revealing something that doesn't hold up.
.5 / 5 - TV