Cast & Crew
Mitch Mason, ex-manager of a once successful rock 'n' roll band, discovers the Twist being played and danced in a small mountain town. He books the band, led by Clay Cole, and dancers Tina and Larry for a Boston society benefit, and they create a sensation. They are unable to get other bookings, however, because Mitch has spurned the advances of Debbie Marshall, the daughter of New York's top agent. But a friend of Mitch's books them into a club where Chubby Checker and Dion are also appearing. They are a smash hit, and the Twist sweeps New York. When Debbie suspects that Mitch is falling in love with Tina, she gets her father to sign the group on the condition that Tina not marry for 3 years. The Twisters appear on a nationwide TV jamboree, and Mr. Marshall learns that Mitch and Tina were secretly married before signing the contracts.
James B. Gordon
B. L. Jones
Charles J. Rice
George Van Marter
Twist Around the Clock
It was only natural that the success would spawn a movie, featuring Checker, of course. Even with this release, however, it was still something of a cover hit. The story is actually a remake of the first true rock 'n' roll musical, Rock Around the Clock (1956), with a nearly identical plot: a struggling music manager discovers the dance sensation in a hick town and works to make it into an overnight success. The picture even spawned a copycat sequel. Rock Around the Clock had Don't Knock the Rock (1956), starring the first film's hit act Bill Haley and the Comets. Likewise, Checker showed up again for Don't Knock the Twist (1962).
Making the switch to the new story shouldn't have been too difficult for the screenwriter, if sources are to be believed that indeed the credited writer, James B. Gordon, is the same person as Robert E. Kent, who is listed as having written the scripts for Rock Around the Clock and Don't Knock the Rock. Compounding the name confusion is the fact that both are credited on some films, such as Inside Detroit (1956) and The Werewolf (1956).
Regardless of who he is/they are, both names have a long association with the producer of the two Twist films and the earlier rock movies they're based on, Sam Katzman. Known as Jungle Sam for the cheapie jungle adventures he churned out in the late 40s and early 50s, Katzman also produced a spate of pirate-themed pictures before turning his attention in the mid 1950s to sci-fi movies and teen-oriented musicals like these.
The production schedule for Twist Around the Clock was only 28 days, a time frame that must have been quite comfortable for director Oscar Rudolph, whose prior (and later) experience was almost entirely in television on such series as The Donna Reed Show and The Lone Ranger. His only previous theatrical features were uncredited co-direction on the Anthony Quinn Western The Ride Back (1957) and the sci-fi comedy The Rocket Man (1954), with script contributions by Lenny Bruce (yes, that Lenny Bruce).
Besides Checker, Twist Around the Clock features other popular musical acts, most notably Dion (aka Dion DiMucci), who had huge hits with his group the Belmonts, including "Lonely Teenager," "Runaround Sue," and "The Wanderer," the last two performed by him here. After his late 50s/early 60s teen idol days were behind him, Dion turned up again in the late 60s with a change in style, scoring a hit with "Abraham, Martin & John." Respected for his talent and influence, the singer-composer was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Also performing in this film are the doo-wop group the Marcels, who scored a gold record and number 1 hit with their 1961 recording of the Rodgers and Hart classic "Blue Moon," a version Rodgers hated so much he took out ads in British newspapers urging people not to buy it-to no avail.
Director: Oscar Rudolph
Producer: Sam Katzman
Screenplay: James B. Gordon
Cinematography: Gordon Avil
Editing: Jerome Thoms
Art Direction: George Van Marter
Cast: Chubby Checker (Himself), Dion DiMucci (Himself, as Dion), Vicki Spencer (Herself), John Cronin (Mitch Mason), Mary Mitchell (Tina Louden), The Marcels (Themselves)
By Rob Nixon