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Thrill-seeking teens in hot rods terrorize the quiet streets of 50s suburbia. The question is whether or not a city-sponsored racetrack will restore order to the streets, or simply push the pedal to the metal.
On the way home from watching their friend, Lisa Vernon, qualify for a race at a new, city-sponsored drag strip, hot-rodder Steve Northrup is warned by his more stable, older brother Jeff not to race. At a traffic light, another hot rodder stops alongside Steve and tries to goad him into racing. Jeff urges Steve to ignore the challenge, but when the other car pulls out in front, then twice backs up and rams Steve's car, Steve ignores Jeff's warning and races after the other hot rod. Meanwhile, police Det. Ben Merrill, a friend to Lisa, Jeff and the other hot rodders, tries to convince Capt. Logan that the drag strip will provide a safe alternative to public streets for the young hot rodders. Just then, Logan receives word that the Northrup brothers have been in a car accident. Logan and Ben rush to the scene, where Lisa is comforting Jeff. Steve was killed in the accident, which a grief-stricken Jeff insists was not his brother's fault, but caused by the other driver, who fled before the police arrived. Logan sternly tells Jeff that he will face a hearing because the orphaned Steve was underage and Jeff was the responsible adult. A few days later, Logan lectures Jeff on his culpability for the accident and tells him that his license has been revoked and he is on probation, but is lucky not to have received jail time. Racked with guilt over Steve's death, Jeff throws himself into his work, repairing cars for sympathetic garage-owner Henry Frye. Lisa, Ben and Henry are worried about Jeff, but he refuses to listen to their concerns and no longer counsels the younger hot rodders who look up to him. One afternoon, Lisa, who is hurt that Jeff no longer has time for her, goes to local hangout Yo-Yo's, to be with fellow hot rodders Two Tanks and Flat Top and their respective girl friends, Long Play and Judy. There newcomer Bronc Talbot drives up in a souped-up Cadillac convertible. Long Play is intrigued by the handsome, black leather-jacket wearing Bronc, but Lisa is unimpressed and does not respond to his flirting. Bronc asks where he can get his car repaired, and Two Tanks suggests that he go to Henry's and ask for Jeff. Once at the garage, Bronc orders a tune-up and insults Jeff by ordering him not to do "unnecessary" repairs that Jeff tells him are needed. That same afternoon, Two Tanks is stopped by local motorcycle policeman Pat, who lectures him about speeding and jumping traffic lights but does not give him a ticket. Pat then warns Ben that the local hot rodders are on the verge of causing serious trouble. Later, Ben asks Lisa to talk with Jeff because the other hot rodders look up to him. Lisa then calls Jeff and asks him to meet her at Yo-Yo's. While Lisa is waiting for Jeff, who is late, the self-centered Long Play tells her to give up on him, but the others sympathize with Lisa. When the couples get up to dance, Bronc comes over to Lisa and starts to flirt, but is so irritated by the loud jukebox music that he pulls the plug. Jeff arrives as Flat Top and Bronc are arguing and tells Flat Top to plug in the jukebox. This angers Bronc, who challenges Jeff to a race. Jeff declines, saying he has neither a "rod" nor a license, but Flat Top takes Bronc's challenge. Frightened that Flat Top will be hurt, Judy begs Lisa to come with them and everyone except Jeff drives off. At an open area in the hills, Bronc challenges Flat Top to a game of "chicken" in which their cars start from opposite ends of the road and speed toward each other until one of them swerves to avoid a collision. The terrified Flat Top accepts the challenge but is the first one to swerve. Although neither driver has been hurt, Flat Top realizes his foolishness and tells Judy that he will never play chicken again. Later at Yo-Yo's, Ben arrives and angrily accuses them of street racing. None of the hot rodders say anything except Bronc, who denies that they were racing. Ben is disappointed that even Jeff refuses to cooperate and warns Bronc, who is much older than the others, to stay out of trouble. As Jeff leaves, Lisa goes after him and offers to give him a ride home. When they arrive at his apartment, he apologizes to Lisa, admitting that guilt over Steve's death caused him to snub her. She assures him that Steve would have wanted them to be together and they kiss, then agree to see each other at the drag strip on Sunday. The next day, when Logan shows Ben all of the citizen complaints about the game of chicken, Ben tells him he knows who is responsible and asks him to be patient. On Sunday, while Lisa, Jeff and the others are at the drag strip, Ben follows Bronc's car and stops him. Ben tells Bronc that he has checked on his record and could easily have his license revoked but offers him a choice: either go to the drag strip to race properly or be charged with reckless driving. Bronc agrees to go to the drag strip, but when Jeff refuses to qualify Bronc's unsafe car, Bronc accuses Jeff of setting him up and leaves. Pleased that Jeff has "kept his head" in the confrontation with Bronc, Ben returns Jeff's license. Later, with Jeff at the wheel of Lisa's Thunderbird, the couple is enjoying a ride through the hills when Bronc speeds alongside and repeatedly tries to goad Jeff into racing. Jeff speeds up to avoid Bronc, but Bronc loops his car around onto the wrong side of the road. As they increase their speed up the winding road, a young boy falls off his bicycle just ahead of them. The two cars swerve, but the boy is hit, and Lisa is knocked unconscious. At the hospital, Ben tells the distraught Jeff that Lisa will be all right but the boy is dead. Jeff admits that things happened so fast he does not remember whose car hit the boy, but Bronc says that it was Jeff's car. Although Ben is sympathetic, he must place Jeff under arrest. The next day, Logan expresses frustration over outraged citizens' complaints and says that Jeff will face a manslaughter charge and a civil suit by the boy's parents. Ben, however, is convinced that Bronc is really to blame and sets out to prove Jeff's innocence. Lisa tells Ben that Jeff is not at fault but, like Jeff, she is uncertain whose car actually hit the boy. Ben goes to Yo-Yo's and, seeing Bronc's car, scrapes some paint off the door. He then goes inside and tells Bronc that skid marks at the scene indicate that Bronc's car hit the boy and that the paint scrapings should confirm his guilt. As Ben turns to leave, Bronc knocks him out. Just then, Lisa and Jeff arrive and Jeff gets into a fight with Bronc. After Jeff knocks Bronc out, Ben revives and tells Jeff that Bronc has confessed by his actions and the evidence is on Jeff's side. He then asks Jeff and Lisa for their help in re-starting the drag strip project.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1956||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||American International Pictures|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Nacirema Productions, Inc.|
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