Hot Cars (1956) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
7Jan/110

Hot Cars (1956)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com


Danny LIKEI had a pretty great November, I'm not going to lie. I discovered some pretty fantastic film noirs... and that only whetted my appetite.

So even though I'd added pretty much everything Netflix had to offer on Instant Queue labeled as noir, but I still didn't get around to watching all of them. A few only have their titles as the image, a few others a random publicity still grabbed. Old obscure movies get no love on Netflix.

That might be why I put off watching Hot Cars for so long. Generic image, uninspired title and plot, so what?

But clocking in at a snappy 61 minutes, Hot Cars is a shocker: sexy, dangerous, and with one of the craziest finales I've seen in ages. It doesn't deserve to be in the dustbin of history, so I come here today not to praise this film, not to bury it.

Joi Lansing pretty much steals the film.

Hot Cars begins with a seduction. There's a used car salesman, Nick, and a pretty blond, Karen. Which is seducing which is up to you: Nick has to seduce in his job to turn a buck, and Karen... well, let's just say it ain't going to hurt her job prospects either.

She runs off after he buys her a few drinks, leaving both Nick and his long suffering boss fuming. Nick is a great salesman, but lately the numbers haven't been showing that. It's only a little bit of trouble with the police and Nick is looking for a new job and a rich client who may or may not be the one the police are really after picks him up.

You see, he has a chop shop and needs a car dealership as a front. Nick takes the offer despite his own moral misgivings (he does have a wife and kid to support) and soon after the dollar signs begin piling up. The blond, Karen, turns out to be his new boss's moll and Nick's own personal downfall.

The choice Nick faces-- seductive beauty or loyal wife-- is excellent because he picks exactly the wrong option and he knows it. The film isn't shy about the sex, which is a pleasure for a movie from this era, and Nick feels the effect of his bad pick almost immediately-- he gets home the next morning to be arrested under suspicion of murder. He's been set up.

Our salesman here has some moral troubles to clear up.

I'm going to give away something, but the end of this movie is a hell of a set piece-- a fistfight on a roller coaster in motion. It's at it's core a stupid idea (dude, just wait at the start of the ride, the guy you're chasing will be right back) but viscerally it's fantastic.

Joi Lansing, the seductive vixen in this film, whom I'd only previously known from her part in Hillbillies in a Haunted House (yes, that is a movie), is especially fun in her role, evoking a Marilyn-Monroe-in-Asphalt-Jungle vibe... Only in a better film.

Hot Cars isn't an essential film noir, but its an economic one, a thrilling tale full of murder and vice. Noirvember may be long over, but there's still a great deal of amazing noir out there. I'm game.

This film is currently available on Netflix Instant Streaming.

Posted by Danny

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