Rock, Pretty Baby


1h 29m 1957

Film Details

Also Known As
Crazy Love, The Living End!
Release Date
Jan 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

Eighteen-year-old Jimmy Daley finds the perfect electric guitar for his Los Angeles jazz-rock ensemble, The Jimmy Daley Combo, but cannot afford its $300 price tag. At home, where his thirteen-year-old sister Theresa, who is called "Twinky," pines for the neighbor boy, and young brother Tommy wreaks benign havoc, Jimmy secretly confers with his mother Beth about borrowing the money. They are interrupted, however, by Jimmy's father, Dr. Thomas Daley, whom Jimmy refers to as "the pill pusher." Thomas plans for Jimmy to become a lawyer, and refuses to let him borrow money from his college fund. Exasperated, Jimmy pawns the law books his father has bought him and turns to his bandmates, ladies' man Angelo Barrato, "Ox" Bentley, "Fingers" Porter, "Sax" Lewis and "Half-Note" Harris, who pool their resources to raise the rest of the money. They soon secure a gig at a local fraternity party, during which high school students Joan Wright and Lori Parker fend off the advances of their college dates. When the band's uptempo tunes lure the coeds away from the romantic patio, Joan's date, Bruce Carter, insists that they play more staid songs, and the boys quit in protest. Outside, they discover that Joan and Lori need a ride home, and the whole gang goes to Tony's pizza parlor, where Angie and Lori spark each other's interest. When the new couple leaves for Paradise Point, however, Joan becomes flustered and tells Jimmy, with whom she has been sharing a soda, that she must leave. He follows her out to the bus stop, where they discover a mutual love of music and disdain for dating, and Jimmy hires Joan as an arranger for the band. Over the next few weeks, the two work earnestly on their compositions, and, without acknowledging it, fall in love. When the combo plays the newest arrangement, even Joan's father, trumpeter "Pop" Wright, is impressed, and they soon win an audition to play at a camp for the summer. At the audition, the teenaged crowd throws off its shoes to dance all night, but the adults grow concerned at the kids' "wanton" dancing, and camp director Mr. Reid does not give them the job. Jimmy's family attends the show, but when Jimmy looks to his dad for praise, Thomas, who earlier discovered that Jimmy pawned the law books, instead chastises him. Days later, just as the friends despair that they will have to disband, Joan announces that master of ceremonies Johnny Grant is hosting a high school band competition, with the winner earning a chance at a record company contract. The gang goes to the beach to celebrate, but when the kids' friendly clowning turns into romantic clinching, Joan refuses to join in. Jimmy chases after her, however, and the two share a chaste evening together. Soon after, Joan visits the beauty parlor in the hopes of impressing Jimmy, but since this causes her to miss an important rehearsal, Jimmy rebukes her, and she runs home crying. Later, while Twinky bemoans her lack of a bustline, Jimmy mopes over Joan, and Beth urges Thomas to talk to him. Thomas takes out his stethoscope but then diagnoses Jimmy as lovesick, and prescribes making up. Jimmy goes straight to Joan's, where she falls into his arms joyfully, but that night on the beach, Jimmy makes romantic advances, and Joan shies away. Confused by her ardor, she suggests that they date others, and a jealous Jimmy agrees. Weeks later, the band makes the finals of the band competition, and when Ox notices that Jimmy, despondent over Joan, does not seem to care, he suggests they throw a party that night at the Daleys'. A huge, rowdy crowd arrives, and after Joan shows up with Bruce and a jealous Jimmy punches him, a fight breaks out that results in hundreds of dollars of damage. As the revelers file out, Joan, who has recently been accepted to a San Francisco music school, accuses Jimmy of acting like a child, readily agreeing when he exhorts her to leave town. The next day, Thomas insists that Jimmy repay their neighbor the $150 in damages to his car that the partygoers have wrought, and Jimmy is forced to pawn his new electric guitar. Days later, while Twinky blissfully tries on her first bra, Thomas receives a phone call from Ox, who reveals that the contest is approaching, but Jimmy refuses to attend. Thomas admonishes his son to live up to his responsibilities, and in response, Jimmy smashes his old guitar and shouts at his father to stop trying to run his life. That night, Thomas and Beth realize that they have been treating Jimmy like a child while asking him to act like a man, and knowing that Jimmy must live out his dream by playing in the contest, Thomas calls Joan in San Francisco. The next day, Jimmy finds Joan in his living room, and they immediately embrace, but are interrupted when Thomas insists that they rush to the in-progress contest. Thomas' speeding attracts the attention of the police, who respond to his lie that he is rushing for a medical emergency by escorting the car to the studio. Once there, the lie is exposed, and the police question why Thomas would commit such a violation, but Thomas explains in front of Jimmy that this was a serious crisis. Inside, Jimmy's band performs an instrumental number that earns a standing ovation, but they ultimately lose the contest. Jimmy forgets his disappointment, however, as soon as his father tells him that he has never been more proud. Minutes later, Mr. Reid informs the bandmates that he has reconsidered his censure of rock and roll, and offers them a job for the summer.

Film Details

Also Known As
Crazy Love, The Living End!
Release Date
Jan 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Color
Black and White

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were The Living End! and Crazy Love. According to Universal press notes, Rock, Pretty Baby was inspired by the idea that, since "authoritative national research" showed that "only five percent of our teenage population suffers the kind of psychological twistings that makes them extreme problem cases, while the other ninety-five percent manages to survive the adolescent conflict as normal human beings," a story should be told about teens who are healthy but still like rock and roll music. According to a January 1957 article in the Los Angeles Mirror, the film included twenty-four dancers, selected from 300 applicants who competed in an on-set elimination dance contest. Although press materials include "The Living End" as one of the numbers played in the film, and a May 1956 Hollywood Reporter "Rambling Reporter" item lists the tunes "Song of Summer" and "Tuned Up," their inclusion in the final picture has not been confirmed. Twins Susan and Caryl Volkmann made their debut in Rock, Pretty Baby.