The Young Racers

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Young Racers at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 10, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
Genre: Drama
Director: Roger Corman
Starring: Mark Damon, William Campbell, Luana Anders, Patrick Magee
Rated: NR

The Hendersonville Film Society continues its retrospective of films by Roger Corman with one of his less-known—and frankly lesser—works, The Young Racers (1964). It’s the kind of movie that benefits from location shooting in various European locales and nicely shot Grand Prix racing footage. There are certain drawbacks inherent in this. Your interest in racing footage—no matter how well shot—is almost entrirely dependent on your interest in racing. Since mine is limited, this isn’t a major selling point. The fact that the film has yet another typically appalling Les Baxter musical score doesn’t help matters. But even less appealing is the clunky, soapy storyline about a talented Grand Prix driver, Joe (William Campbell), and a writer, Stephen (Mark Damon), who wants to show Joe up with a tell-all book about what sleazeball he is. This isn’t hard to believe, since William Campbell can’t help but look sleazy (or like a Liberace clone), but it turns out there’s more to him than that—or so the film insists. It doesn’t make a lot of sense and is rarely believable. The interest—at least for Corman completists—is seeing the director working at something a little unusual, and at least producing something watchable. Trivia buffs take note that the sound man and second unit director is Francis Ford Coppola, and the production manager is none other than future exploitation mogul Menahem Golan.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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