Hot Rod Girl (1956) - full transcript

When his younger brother, Steve, is killed racing a hot-rod, Jeff Northup blames himself for the accident since he had built the car for his brother and had encouraged him to race it, with other boys on a special course provided by police detective Ben Merrill, who is working to reduce the city's hot-rod fatalities by providing supervision for the dangerous hobby. Jeff withdraws from participating in races on Merrill's course and, without his leadership, revert to racing on the streets. "Bronc" Talbott, a newcomers, makes a play for Jeff's girlfriend, Lisa Vernon. Eventually, the taunting-Talbott forces Jeff into a race which results in the death of a bicycling child, and evidence seems to indicate Jeff was at fault.

(suspenseful music)

(car engine roaring)

(rock music)

(gentle music)

(upbeat jazz music)
(tires squealing)

- [Announcer] Please observe
our safety regulations.

(tires squealing)

Just a second and we'll have his time.

Final eliminators in class
C, modified stock cars,

Harv Jenkins and Miss Lisa Vernon.

Miss Vernon's well-known to local fans,

and that T-Bird of hers
should turn up a good speed.

(tires squealing)

Both cars moving with a lot of steam.

They're approaching the time trap.

There it is.

Looks like 39C, Lisa Vernon pulling away.

That does it.

That's time and the race is close.

Winner in the class C modified
stock car, Miss Lisa Vernon.

Miss Vernon turned 98.94.

- Hey, Lisa really got
that heap jumpin', huh?

- Yeah, well the Northrup brothers

aren't the only drivers
on the strip, you know.

- Maybe Lisa's name will be
Northrup before too long,

right Jeff?

- We're workin' on it.

- [Announcer] That finishes
another day's racing.

- Well, that's it for today.

- Ah, these meets are
always over too quick.

- Yeah, but with your heavy
foot, the guy would think

you were trying to race your way

to Indianapolis and the 500.

- We're workin' on that too.

- You guys got more
plans than an architect.

- [Announcer] Spectators
for their fine cooperation.

Take it easy going home.

Play it safe on the road, same
as we do here on the strip.

- [Flat Top] Hey, here's Lisa!

- [Jeff] Great going, Lisa.

- Thanks, Jeff.

- That other guy got
nothing but exhaust port.

- Pretty fair for a stock job.

- Now there's the compliment
I was waiting for.

- Don't mind him, he's on cloud nine.

- And why not?

A new track record.

- And I was just getting started.

If I had another mile, you'd
really have seen something.

- Our quarter-mile drag strip is putting

a crimp on our champ's style.

- Oh, you just get flyin' and boom,

the finish line clips your wings.

- That's the idea.

- Okay, I know, slow
and easy, easy and slow.

- Just remember it.

- Yes sir.

- This has really been your day.

Two of your cars tops in their class.

- Oh, not my cars.

- Who are you kiddin'?

This here rod would never
have revved up the way it did

if you hadn't doped out a new combination

on his four-barrel carb.

- And what about the porting on my motor?

- Okay, okay, I'm sold.

You two drive 'em and I'll
try to keep 'em running.

- The Northrup monopoly,
(imitates fanfare).

- Can I come into the winner's circle?

- Clam up you squares, it's the law.


Good, huh?

- Hi Ben.

Congratulations, team.

- What do you say, Ben?

- Lisa.

- Hi, Ben.

- Nice goin', this was the best meet yet.

- And the biggest.

We had a real jam in the inspection line.

- Yeah, and did you get a load

of all those stock car cowboys?

- Now be generous, Steve.

We can't all own hot rods like yours.

- I'll try and get some more volunteers

for the inspection line.

We're growing so fast, I can't keep up.

- In spite of the city council
and the other soreheads

who were trying to stop us, huh?

- Which reminds me, I've
got a date with the captain.

- Boss still riding you
about us, and the strip?

- Let's say the captain
is slow to surrender

a dearly-held prejudice.

I'll see you later, and
take it easy goin' home.

- Sure.

- Naturally, so long, Ben.

- So long, Ben.
- Bye.

- You crowd up in 10 for Yo-Yo's?

- Okay, how about you, Steve?

- Gee, I'd like to, but every
time I come to the strip,

Aunt Sarah puts the stopwatch on me.

I can see her now sitting at
the window biting her nails.

- Aw, come on, so it'll
be another half hour.

Besides, she's got long nails.


- Will you square it with her?

- Aunt Sarah stops me, kid.

- Boy, well, I'll be
glad when I'm old enough

to move in with you.

She's strictly horse and buggy.

She doesn't dig hot rods at all.

- Give her time, Steve, she's young.

- See you at Yo-Yo's.

- So long.

- Hey Jeff, how about ridin' with me?

There's a ping I want you to catch.

Can you spare him, Lisa?

- But be careful with him.

- We guarantee safe delivery.

- See you at Yo-Yo's.

(engines revving)

- You can talk all day, Ben,
but I've seen too much of it.

You know, I've handled this
accident investigation detail

a good many years.

It's hard for me to believe
that we're gonna stop

teenage violations by
encouraging hot-rodders.

- If you'd only come out to
the strip with me, Captain.

Get to know these kids.

- No thanks, that's your headache.

- We're drawing in more
kids every weekend.

Now more kids on the drag strip
means fewer on the street.

- All right, you've got your chance.

Personally I can't buy
it, but I'm not gonna

stand in your way.

- I know, and I appreciate it.

You've been under plenty of pressure.

- Pressure?

No, the calls I get must melt the relay.

Close the strip, confiscate all hot rods,

fire that crackpot Ben Merrill.

Like a broken record.

- Yeah, I know, but teaching
those solid loudmouth citizens

to respect the hot-rodders
who are law abiding

is rougher than educating kids.

- I don't hear it.

- It's nowhere at this speed.

If I could open it up.

- Next time we're at the strip.

- You know, there's never time enough

to do what you really want.

- You're doing okay.

- Oh, that'll make Aunt Sarah very happy.

She gave me a special
trophy room, in the ash can.


Believe me, Jeff.

Living with her is like
driving with your breaks on.

- Just a few more years to wait.

- Wait, slow down, stop,
that's the story of my life.

- Kid, your fuel mix is too rich.

Ease it off, huh?

(engine revving)

- Who's that squirrel?

- I don't know.

- What's he trying to prove?

- Ignore him.

(engine revving)

(tires squealing)

- That wise guy!

Whatever he's thinking, he's killing

that passed down pile of junk in low gear.

- Don't fall for it, Steve.

He's trying to bait you, Steve.

Now play it smart and let him go.

Play it smart.

(metal crashing)

- I'm gonna give that guy some knuckle!

- He's lookin' for
trouble, disappoint him.

(metal crashing)

- He's not gettin' away with it.

(tires squealing)

- Steve, slow down.

Stop it, Steve, stop it!

(tires squealing)

Steve, stop it!

- Law enforcement used to be so simple.

- In the good old days?

- Yeah, now I gotta be a
teacher, social worker,

public relations council, and wet nurse.


- You're not the type, Captain.

But you have to admit, a
city-sponsored drag strip

has cut the accident rate in other towns,

and you know it'll do the same
for us if they give us time.

- Don't keep educating me,
I'm ridin' along with you.

Just keep those kids of yours clean.

You might even make a hot-rodder
out of me, if I survive.

Come on, buy you a cup of coffee.

(phone ringing)



All right, yes, Merrill's with me.

We'll be right there.

- What is it?

- Crash, 45th and High, two
hot-rodders street racing.

- Any of our kids?

- The Northrup brothers.

(dramatic music)

(siren blaring)

(tires squealing)

(somber music)

- [Lisa] Ben!

- Sorry, Ben, but don't
be too tough on the kid.

It wasn't his fault.

This other guy ranked him into it.

You know how kids are.

Steve's okay, isn't he?

Isn't he?



- The other car?

- He didn't even stop.

- You know who the driver was?

- He doesn't know either.

- This the other kid in the death car?

- Yes sir.

- What about the hot rod you were racing?

- No one seems to be able
to identify it, Captain.

- The dead boy your brother?

Folks been notified?

- The parents are dead.

The younger boy lived with his aunt.

- Your brother bring a minor,
you were responsible for him,

yet you let him speed,
throw away his life.

- But Jeff tried to stop him.

- There'll be a hearing, Judge Walker.

- Is it all right if I take Jeff home now?

Come on, we can go home.


Jeff, please.




- Real hopped-up death trap.

Plain luck no innocent people were killed.

- How that kid loved this car.

- The paper's gonna love
this, they'll murder us.

Teenage kid killed in a street race

on his way home from
your fancy drag strip.

Makes us look like we're
helpin' them kill themselves.

Beats me why Judge Walker gave you

the kid glove treatment, Northrup.

Taking up your license,
paroling you to this office.

Plenty of people wanted him
to throw the book at you.

Lucky you got a good friend.

You're to report weekly to this office,

and you're not to drive a
car under any circumstances.

Your compliance with
our rules will determine

when we restore your right
to drive, understood?

- Yes sir.

- If I get any more calls
from outraged citizens,

you don't know where to find me.

- Thanks, thanks for what you did.

- I did very little.

- Like the captain said, plenty of people

wanted to see me to go to jail.

- An accident like that makes
people feel uneasy, guilty.

Someone's gotta be punished.

Soon as the newspapers
give 'em another story,

they'll forget it.

- I should've stopped him somehow.

- You tried.

- That's not good enough.

Look, I built that car
for him, I gave it to him.

He was my responsibility.

- Mine too.

- Not in the same way.

I really loused you up too.

- Now don't worry, the
captain will cool down.

But we've got a fight on our hands

to save the drag strip and the other kids.

I'm counting on your help, Jeff.

- Don't.

- But you can't give up now.

If you quit, a lot of the others will too.

The strip's not a habit with them yet.

They only go because you and
Lisa have led them there.

- I'm not thinking of the
others, I'm thinking of Steve.

- There'll be a lot of
other kids end up like Steve

if we let them close the strip.

- Didn't save him.

- You're not being fair, Jeff.

- Sorry, that's the way I feel.

I've had it.

- What about Flat Top,
Two Tanks, and the others?

They all look up to you.

- Well no more.

Let somebody else be responsible.

(somber music)

(phone ringing)

- Henry's Garage.

- Hello, Mr. Frye, this is Lisa Vernon.

- Hello, Lisa.

Yeah, he's here.

Fine, I'll call him.

Telephone, Jeff.

- Know who it is?

- [Henry] It's Lisa.

Aw, come on, Jeff, why
don't you talk to her?

- Hello Lisa.

- Hi Jeff.

I didn't disturb you, did I?

- That's okay.

- There's a meet at the strip tomorrow.

How about my picking you up?

- Thanks, but we're loaded with work.

I can't get away.

- But you've got to relax sometime.

You can't go on working around the clock.

Besides, you can--

- I appreciate your calling,
but I just can't make it.

- Sure, sure Jeff.

I'll see ya.

- Yeah.

(upbeat jazz music)

- Hey, join us at the curb, chick.

- Easy, don't scrape the white sidewalls.

- Fast thinking Lisa, the
kids are dragging the strip.

- Yeah, yeah, you cats were
really wailing out there.

- Ow, man, ow.

- Wasn't that dreamy?

- Oh sure, baby's rock and roll lullaby.


- Where you been, Lisa?

- Out at the strip.

- With Jeff?

- I thought you'd all be out there.

- Eh, who needs it?

- I heard they were gonna close it down.

- You know, I never
felt relaxed out there.

- For once we agree.

Rules and regulations.

- So confining.

- You know if they force
Ben to close the strip,

the next step will be to outlaw hot rods.

- Eh, so let 'em if it'll
make the squares happy.

- They wouldn't dare.

Why, my whole wardrobe is
designed for hot-rodding.

- Tell that to the city council, L.P.

- Jeff meeting you here, Lisa?

- Gee, haven't seen
you together in a week.

- L.P., how much does Yo-Yo
pay you to haunt this place?

- Can't a girl take a friendly interest?

- Friendly?

You got more needles
than a Christmas tree.

- I'm afraid since the accident,

Jeff's been keeping
pretty much to himself.

- Yeah, he's been doing everything
but sleep in that garage.

He's got strictly no time for comedy.

- Poor Jeff.

Maybe no one's tried the right approach.

Now I've been told that
I have a certain way

of drawing people out.

You know, people respond to
me in a very different way

than they do to ordinary girls.

I don't exactly know what the
secret of my success is, but--

- Long Play, that's enough surface noise.

Take it off the turntable, doll.

- Oh, that was close.

I thought she was in the
old micro group again.

- Maybe if all of us went to get Jeff.

- You'd be wasting your time.

- Ah, gourmets, attention.

Here's old Yo-Yo with a
tray full of ptomaine.

- Ptomaine, no this is
all strictly grade A.

- Sure, for the stomach ache
deluxe, dine at Yo-Yo's.

- Personal insults I'm used to,

but if you kids start
running down my food.

- Running it down?


I said it before and I'll say it again,

everything Yo-Yo serves is swill.


- Pay first.

- What's the matter, don't you trust us?

- You named it.

- Why don't you check our credit rating

before you take our order?

- If you don't like my
way of doing business,

why do you come here?

- You're a father to us.

- What an awful thought.

- We come here because
it's just like home.

- Yeah, our folks don't trust us either.


- Want anything?

- No, thanks.

- With my talent, I
could've been a great chef.

And so how do I end up?

Serving my delicacies to hot-rodders.

- Better than cartin' caviar to creeps.

- Hey, this is a Canadian dime.

- So, take a trip.


- Hey, how about taking a
fast one up to Dry Lake?

- What for?

- You can really get a
heap rolling up there.

- Wasn't that where
Pee-Wee Stone cracked up?

- Pee-Wee got careless.

Come on, how about it, Flat Top?

- I don't know.

- [L.P.] Person could die
of boredom around here.

- Highway Patrol used to
watch that place pretty close.

- Not anymore, it's wide open.

The cops are all out at the drag strip.

- Hey, you're not cuttin'
out already, are ya?

- I may be back.

See ya.

- Bye.
- So long, Lisa.

- Later, Lisa.

- Well, Lisa sure isn't firing
on all eight without Jeff.

- It's awful how
dependent us girls become.

There are moments when I ask myself, L.P.,

what would you do without a sensitive,

generous, understanding
man like Two Tanks?

- And what's your answer?

- I'd starve.

- Starve?

- Oh, be sensitive,
generous, understanding,

and order me another sandwich.


- How's it look?

- Rough, rings won't do.

It'll need a rework.

- You know, it's funny how little respect

drivers have for their cars.

But if they all felt like you did,

I'd soon be out of business.

Why don't you call it a day?

- Thanks, I'll stick around a while.

- You're working too hard, Jeff.

12, 14 hours a day.

You look tired.

- I like being tired.

- Yeah, I know.

- Hello, Mr. Frye.

How is he?

- The same.

You got company, Jeff.

- Hi Jeff.

- Hi Lisa.

Having trouble with the Bird?

- No, it's running fine.

I'm worried about you, Jeff.

- I'm all right.

- Will you stop and listen to me a minute?

Don't you think I have any pride?

Do you think it's easy
for me to come here?

- I'm sorry, Lisa, but I didn't--

- The last thing I want is an apology.

But I do have a right to know
what's happened between us.

- You wouldn't understand.

- I tried to understand, to be
patient, but somehow I just--

- Lisa, please, it's got
nothing to do with you.

Just, you don't know what it's like.

Nobody does until it happens to them.

- What about when my dad was killed?

I didn't shut you out.

- It's not the same thing,
you had nothing to do with it.

I was responsible for
Steve, for his death.

- Oh, you know that isn't true.

- Isn't it?

Who taught him to drive?

Who bought him a car and hopped it up?

Who was with him when he...

Everything I do, everyone I
see makes me think of him.

Just when I think I can forget a little,

I look at you or talk to
Flat Top, or Ben calls me.

And I'm right back where I started.

I thought if I could work hard enough,

got tired enough I'd stop
going over and over it.

But every time I lift the hood of a car

or look at an engine, I see
the one I built for him.

- But you can't stop living, Jeff.

And it isn't fair to cut
off the people who need you.

- Was it fair for a kid like Steve

to be killed before he
even started to live?

- No, but shutting yourself away like this

and trying to kill yourself with work

isn't going to bring Steve back.

You're so busy feeling sorry for yourself

you don't even know what's going on.

Kids are starting to act up.

It could lead to trouble, serious trouble.

- They're old enough to
know what they're doing.

- But you can stop them,
they listen to you.

- Lisa, I told you before, what they do

is none of my business.

- Then it doesn't matter if next time

it's Flat Top or Two Tanks.

- Lisa, stop it!

Will you please leave me alone?

- All right, Jeff.

- Lisa.

Don't give up.

He needs you.

Give him time, he'll come around.

- I will.

(tires squealing)

(engine revving)

- Hey, someone crash the sound barrier?

- Who wheeled in the big guns?

- I didn't recognize the car.

- Sounds like he's using dynamite.

(swanky jazz music)

- [L.P.] He doesn't have to use it.

He is dynamite.

That for real?

- Down girl.

- What a profile.

What a stature.

- All right, okay, what do you want?

Brawn or brains?

- I'm not particular, but I'm
entitled to one or the other.

- Ah, a sightseer.

- And he likes one of the sights he sees.

Personally, it's none
of my business, but--

- That's right, L.P., it's
none of your business.

- But if my boyfriend had turned hermit

and a good-looking somebody gave me

the high-frequency signal--

- Horseradish?

- What shall it be?

- Your place is crawling with hot-rodders.

- One pest you can't control.

- Cops give you much trouble?

- Not like it used to be,
before they got the drag strip.

- I'm new in this burgh.

You know where I can get
some work done on my car?

- Me?

I know nothing about cars.

These kids could tell
you, if you can understand

what they're talking about.

- The mystery man is coming this way.

- Think he's gonna make a pass?

- Don't worry, I'll protect you.

- Who asked you?

- I hear you guys are rod jockeys.

- Yeah, wanna see our licenses?

- I'm looking for information, not laughs.

Where's the garage?

- Sounds to me more like
you need a piano tuner.

- Oh, very funny.

- Big, strong man like you,
why don't you fix it yourself?

- Cutie, I drive.

Let the grease monkey's fix it.

- Try Henry's Garage, a block east

and two blocks and a half north.

Ask for Jeff.

- Thanks.

When I get my coffee pot perkin',

maybe some of you cats
would like a lesson.

- What's the subject?

- I don't limit myself.

- You'll find us here, teacher.

- You too?

- I wouldn't count on it.

- Well, they told me
this is a friendly town.

- I'm the exception.

- We'll have to work on that.

See you around.

- Well, there's a nervy one.

- Oh no, that guy's gotta be kiddin'.

- And that's not all.

My woman's intuition tells
me he's gonna know you

the next time he sees you.

- I can hardly wait.

- When I get my coffee pot perkin',

maybe some of you cats
would like a lesson.


- Hello, what can we do for you?

- You got a greaseball
here by the name of Jeff?

- We got a mechanic here named Jeff.

- Well, I want him to
do some work on my car.

- Jeff.

Someone asking for you.

- Yeah?

- Some of the squares up at
Yo-Yo's tell me you're the most.

- What seems to be the trouble?

- She jumps and misses between 35 and 50.

- Start your motor.

(engine rumbling)

You build this?

- Me?

No, I bought it from some
character who was short of cash.


- Points, plugs, carburetor,
everything is gummed up.

A motor like this takes real
care if it's gonna give you

the performance that's built into it.

Better go--

- Hold it, buster.

I'm here for service, not a sermon.

It's my heap, and I'll
do with it as I please.

Now are you gonna tune it up or not?

- Bring it in tomorrow,
we'll take care of it.

- And don't try anything
fancy just because

I'm new around here.

I know all the tricks you mechanics use.

- Thought you were gonna hit him, Jeff.

- I wanted to.

I may yet, after he pays his bill.

(tires squealing)

(siren blaring)

- We really don't need an escort, Officer,

although it's terribly nice of you.

- That'll be enough of that, Miss.

- What'd I do, Officer?

- I saw you rev out of that intersection.

- So I got a hot car.

I was only doing 35.

It's a 35 mile zone, isn't it?

- Not a question of how
fast you were driving.

You kids have a strip for
this kind of jockeying.

- We got a right on the streets.

- Keep on driving this
way and you won't have.

- Yes sir.

- I could give you a ticket,
but I'm not going to.

Now watch your step, this
is your last warning.

- Thank you, sir.

- Don't thank me, thank Ben Merrill.

I think you know what I mean.

- I'm confused.

- Explain it to her.

- You're asking a lot, Officer.

- Hoped I'd find you here, Ben.

- Anything wrong?

- Look, you know we're
trying to play ball with you,

and for a while it seemed to be working.

But lately the kids are
getting wilder than ever.

- Lot of violations?

- Near misses, you know.

Jumping the light, cutting
in and out of traffic.

But if it keeps up, we'll
get orders to nail 'em

for walking across the street.

- Have you made many arrests?

- Been warning 'em.

Sooner or later it's gonna bust wide open.

The chief knew about it,
he'd have our heads for it.

- Thanks, Pat, I'll see what I can do.

- Here's a list of entries, Ben.

- Did you hear Pat?

Pretty soon it'll be as bad as
it was when we started here.

We could sure use Jeff.

- I tried to talk to him,
but he wouldn't listen.

- Would you try once more?

I wouldn't ask you,
Lisa, if I didn't think

it was important, for the kids and Jeff.

- All right.

- Good.

(upbeat jazz music)

- [L.P.] Thanks, Yo-Yo.

- You're welcome.

- So he says to me, "you
can thank Ben Merrill."

She says, "I'm confused."


"Explain it to her."

"Well, that's asking
an awful lot, Officer."


- Expecting someone?

- Jeff was supposed to
meet me here at two.

- You keep staring at the clock

and Handsome Harry keeps staring at you.

You could do worse.

Look at me.

- You always save your
insults until after you eat.

- Food sharpens my wit and opens my eyes.

Lisa, haven't you noticed
the torch you're carrying

is all smoke and no fire?

- Lay off.

- Look, L.P., what
we're trying to tell you

is what Lisa does is her own business.

- It's all right, Judy.

- Don't play it so high and mighty.

All of you think the same as
I do, you just don't say it.

- We think and don't say it, L.P.

You say it and don't think.

- It's just sinful, that's all.

Pretty girl like Lisa sitting
around watching clocks,

waiting for the phone to
ring, all because of someone

who's forgotten any of us are around.

- L.P., flip the record.

- Listen, I was as sorry
for Jeff as any of you,

but to go on like this week after week.

And he's got a girl like Lisa
waiting, and all she asks is--

- Ah, Two Tanks, can't you feed her?

Dance with her, gag her.

- You heard the man, let's struggle.

- That's right, rush me
away, just when I'm trying

to be helpful.

- You're not being helpful.

- Okay, so I made a mistake.

- Your parents made a mistake.

- Supposin' I give him a call.

- Thanks, but forget it.

- Minuet?

- Sure.

- Hi.

Still feeling unfriendly?

- I'm afraid so.

- Now you got me puzzled.

How come a sharp chick like
you always plays it solo?

- Please, if you don't mind.

- Look, you're alone, I'm alone.

Can I give you any ideas?

- I'm not alone, I'm with friends.

- Don't kid me.

I've watched you ever
since I hit this town and,

don't go away.

- Hey, what's the pitch, screwball?

- One side, little man,
or I'll step on you.

- Hey, I had two bits
invested in that machine.

- Yeah.

- Here's a refund, get lost.

- What's the matter, you antisocial?

- We wanna dance.

- Put the plug in, Flat Top.

- Sure.

Why me?

It was your quarter.

- Well, somebody do somethin'.

- What's the panic?

- King Kong yanked the cord.

- Oh, he did, did he?

Look here, Mister.

You can't just come to
this establishment and,

I mean, is that nice?

- I'm buying two bits
worth of quiet, okay?

- [L.P.] We came here to dance.

You don't like music,
find yourself a cave.

- Please, please, let's
settle this peaceably.

- I got some important things to say.

I don't need background music.

You're gonna let him get away with this?

What's the matter with you heroes?

- Flat Top, start the music.

- You were saying?


- What am I running?

Madison Squares Garden?

The management don't allow no
brawls in this establishment.


- I don't want trouble, Yo-Yo, just music.

- I'll call the law, so help me,

if you so much as make a fist.

- Plug in the jukebox, Flat Top.

- Big Sir Monkey Wrench,
he's real nervy when he knows

there can't be a fight.

- There's a big parking lot outside.

- Sure, out there, be my guests.

(light jazz music)

- Now look who's yeller.

- Big boy like you
oughta drive a sharp car.

- You coming outside?

- You worked on mine,
you know what it can do.

- Listen to him, he's talking cars,

talk about being chicken.

- Get in a rod and I'll
show you who's chicken.

- I don't have a car.

- Can use mine, Jeff.

- I can't drive.

And even if I could, I wouldn't use a car

to settle an argument.

- Okay.

Then we won't have music.

- Not so fast, alligator.

- Look, pocket purse,
didn't I make it clear?

I'm giving the orders.

- I don't take orders from a chicken.

- Big talk.

- I got a car to back it up.

- More man than the juniors are.

Let's roll, buddy boy.

- Don't be a dope, Flat Top.

- There are worse things.

(upbeat jazz music)

- Sorry I was late, Lisa, I
got tied up at the garage.

- Lisa, will you come with me?

Please, I'm scared for Flat Top.

- Will you come?

- No.

- Please Lisa, you gotta come with me.

(engines rumbling)

(tires squealing)

- Crazy, all of them.

Why do I have to run a
hangout for lunatics?

- I'll have a cup of coffee, Yo-Yo.

- What do I get out of it?

Insults, headaches, jerks.

Ought to all be locked up
where they can't hurt nobody.

Now you, you got some sense.

You played it smart.

You did just right, Jeff.

But that Flat Top.

Well, if he wants to
go get himself killed,

it's his business, right?

- Yo-Yo, do me a favor, please shut up.

(dramatic music)

- You ready, hero?

- I guess.

- You take that end and
I'll take the other, okay?

- [Flat Top] Okay.

- I'll give you three quick
blasts on my horn when I'm set.

You answer me with three.

Then we both count one,
two, three, and take off.

Now we straddle the white
line right down the middle,

barrel towards each other, and...

You wanna crawl out?

That's the spirit.

We all gotta go sometime.

- I'm set.

- Let's get together real soon.

- What's happened to him?

- He's trying to prove
something, but what I don't know.

- It's crazy, that's what it is.

Completely crazy.

- Now what?

- It's up to them.

- [Judy] They're going
in different directions.

- They'll turn around.

- [Judy] And come back toward each other?

- I've never seen anyone play
chicken like this before.

Have you?

- No, but I heard about it.

Takes real nerve.

- Suppose neither one of them give.

- Yeah.

- Why am I letting him do it?

- I don't think you can stop him.

- Should try.

(horn honking)

(horn honking)

I've got to stop him.

- Judy, stay here.

- I just can't sit here and wait for--

- But it's too late.

(dramatic music)

(tires squealing)

- Judy.

- [Judy] I'm going to Flat Top.

- Poor old Flat Top.

- Anybody else feeling lucky?

- He's crazy, completely crazy.

- Okay, chickens, head for your roost.

(somber music)

- Never again.

Promise me, Flat Top, never again.

- Baby, it's a deal.

I was nuts, squirrely.

Playing chicken with
that king-size maniac.

From now on, yours truly is
gonna be one big, fat coward.

- That's my boy.

- What, no congratulations?

I'm warning you kid, I don't give up easy.

- Where's Flat Top?

- What's it to you?

- Is he okay, Lisa?

- Least the guy tried
before he chickened out.

- You should have come along, Jeff.

You really missed something exciting.

Too exciting for me.

Imagine, too exciting for me.

I had to close my eyes just before they--

- Ah, ah, ah, he's okay, Jeff.

He'll be along any minute.

- Everyone having a good time?

- Why, Officer Merrill,
what a pleasant surprise.

- Means I'm a little
late for the main event.

Any casualties?

- On the dance floor?

- In your chicken race.

- What are you giving it?

- I had a report this
gang was street racing.

- You got a bum squeal, Mister.

Some wise guy wanted to stir up a storm.

He's been real quiet.

- Well, my source was reliable.

- How about it?

Anyone know anything about a street race?

- You taking orders from this guy now?

- Giving orders.

- What's your name?

- Talbott, Bronc Talbott.

- New in town?

What do you do?

- I'm retired.

- Little old for this crowd, aren't you?

- I'm young at heart.

- How long you been here, Jeff?

- Not long.

- Did you come before or after

they left for the street race?

I asked a question, Jeff.

- I don't know anything, Ben.

- Now look, you've got a
responsibility to these kids.

- I've got no responsibility to anyone,

and that's the way it is.

- Jeff.

- Jeff, I hoped I'd see you.

I don't know what got into me, but I just.

Well, what's eatin' him?

I just wanted to tell him I
was sorry, that he was right.

- [Ben] Right about what, Flat Top?

- You want a ride home?

- Ben send you after me?

- It was my own idea.

I guess not a very good one.

- Lisa?

Lisa, I've got no right to hurt you.

If the offer still stands,
I'd appreciate a ride.

- Flat Top, I'm giving you one last chance

to tell me a straight story.

Okay, you won't level with me.

Well, maybe somebody around here

will tell me what's happening to you kids.

I've gone to bat for you, defended you,

fought to get you the drag strip,

stood between you and people who wanted

to crack down on you.

Now isn't that true?

So what happened?

Your boy caught the strip, you pick up

more citations every day,
and a few minutes ago,

you broke every rule in the book.

Well, I've tried.

But obviously you don't
wanna play it my way.

That's too sane, too sensible.

All right, but take a word of warning,

one more hot rod accident in this town

and you'll all lose your license.

Now if you wanna boot everything
we've tried to accomplish

for a few cheap thrills, I can't stop you.

But at least you know where I stand.

(Bronc clapping)

- What's on the other side of that record,

hearts and flowers?

- Watch your step, Talbott.

I know you ranked one of these
kids into playing chicken.

Luckily no one was hurt.

(lively jazz music)

Now don't push your luck or my patience,

or you'll find yourself--

(music blaring)

- I've always wondered what
kind of a place you lived in.

- Nothing special, cheap, handy.

- I won't stay long.

(gentle music)


- Not much like your place.

You don't have to do that.

- I like to.

- I usually do better
than this, but lately I--

- I know.

Oh, a kitchen too.

- A converted closet.

- Let me fix you something to eat.

- Thanks, but I'm not very hungry.

- Coffee?

I'd like a cup.

- Okay.

- Hope I can make a
drinkable cup of coffee.

Haven't had much practice.

- Lisa?

- Mm-hmm?

- I'm sorry for the way I've
acted, things I've said.

It's like I couldn't help it.

I'd think about you,
even start to call you,

and I'd think about
Steve, and that horrible,

guilty feeling would come back.

And I couldn't call you,
couldn't face you or anyone.

- Shutting yourself away from everything

only prolongs the hurt.

- I realize that now.

- Besides, Steve wouldn't
have wanted it that way.

You know how he talked about us.

- Yeah.

- I always took us for
granted till this happened.

You and me being together.

Just had to be.

- Oh, Lisa.

- I love you, Jeff.

Don't ever shut me out again.

You know, you have such a nice face.

- It's a workable face.

- Nice to see the crinkles again.

- You know, I think you'd better go.

- Can't I wait for my coffee?

- I'll buy you one tomorrow.

- All right.

- I'll walk you down to the car.

- Don't bother.

Tomorrow's Sunday, big day at the strip.

How about it?

- Okay.

- Bye.

- Look at 'em, just look at 'em.

Was there a street race or wasn't there?

- There was, Captain, but--

- Who did you arrest?

- No one, I didn't have any evidence.

- There's your evidence,
a dozen complaints.

What kind of an answer am
I gonna give these people?

- I know who set up that
chicken race yesterday.

- Well, why didn't you pull him in?

- No proof, he's new in town.

I checked on him this morning.

He's got quite a record of
traffic violations in the state.

- Well, let's tie a can to him.

We got plenty of homegrown
headaches without importing any.

- I've got an idea that might work.

I'd like to handle this boy my way.


- All right, here we go again.

But remember, there's no margin for error.

One more slip and we'll--

- There won't be any.

- And keep me posted.

- Morning.

- Hello, Ben.

- [Ben] Awfully quiet.

- Great, ain't it?

No yammering kids, no exploding hot rods.

I've been reading the
horse breeder's quarterly.

- Thinking of raising horses?

- Not me personally, but
I've been wondering if maybe

I could have a place that
catered to the horsey set.

Folks who ride horses is
genteel, don't you think?

- Well, I haven't any
connections in the horsey set.

Where are your customers?

Am I a problem?

- Took off for the drag
strip maybe 15 minutes ago.

- Well, that's encouraging.

- Jeff Northrup herded them out.

- [Ben] Good, what about Lisa?

- [Yo-Yo] She went with them.

- Just a second, Talbott.

- Write me a letter.

(door closes)

- He's been asking me about
Lisa before you came in.

I played it dumb.

- Thanks, Yo-Yo.

(engine rumbling)

(siren blaring)

(horn honks)

In a hurry?

- You tail me from Yo-Yo's?

- You're quite a cowboy.

I don't know what the traffic
laws are where you come from,

Talbott, but we don't
want our city streets

used as a three-ring circus.

- Skip the lectures.

If you're gonna give me a ticket, do it.

- It's not quite that simple.

You've got quite a record in
this state, I checked into it.

Now if I haul you in, my boss
is gonna tear up your license.

- He wouldn't get away with it.

- I think he would.

He knows about your record,
and he's down on hot-rodders.

- You cops, just because a guy--

- Now look, I could haul
you in, but I'd rather not.

I'm gonna give you a choice.

Follow me out to the drag strip and see

how some real hot-rodders
handle their cars,

or I'll take you in and book
you for reckless driving.

- That's a choice?


- It's a better break than you deserve.

Now which is it gonna be?

- You're wearing the badge,
I'll go to the strip.

I was going there anyway.

- When we get there, we'll see how good

this car of yours really is.

- [Announcer] Another
great day for racing.

The best turnout of top
qualifiers in weeks.

(engine revving)

(tires squealing)

(announcer talking drowned
out by engines rumbling)


Do better next try.

Please be patient.

We will run off the qualifiers as rapidly

as they can be cleared through inspection

and classification.

- Good luck.

- [Announcer] Please bear with us.

Last call for class B.

- Well, you're okay.

- Man, it's sure a different place

with you calling the plays again, Jeff.

- Thanks, Flat Top.

- Hey, Jeff, I tried
to tell you yesterday,

but you didn't give me the chance.

You were right all the way.

I was a dope to fall
for that chicken race.

- Forget it.

- Hey, everything okay with you and Lisa?

- Yeah.

- What does the best
man wear, spiked Levi's?


Hey, I must be seeing things.

Is that for real, Jeff?

Ben's got a new playmate.

- Hello Jeff.

- Hi Ben.

- Good to see you back.

Makes the place look like home.

- Nice to be back.

- Hey, you know Bronc Talbott.

He's developed a sudden
interest in the drag strip.

After he's looked it over, he might even

be persuaded to race.

- Well, aren't we lucky?

- Yeah, you and the rest of the squares

might just as well go home.

- Well, why don't you let
the others have their fun?

They don't realize the
mostest has arrived.

- They will, just like you did.

- After inspection, your car
will be classified over there.

Let's go.

Hello Lisa.

- Hi Ben.

- Think I'd forgotten about you, kitten?

Put your paints away and come with me.

- Sorry, I'm busy.

- I thought I'd drop by and
teach those snails a lesson.

Keep an eye on me and I'll
show you how it's done.

- I wouldn't miss it.

- We'll be back.

After inspection, you
can classify Mr. Talbott.

- I've got him classified.

(engine revving)

(tires squealing)

- This is the place to test your car,

see what it'll really do.

(tires squealing)

You can let off steam without risking--

- Maybe I shoulda let you run me in.

Do I get to drive or don't I?

- I thought you'd be interested in--

- The only thing that interests me

is teaching those prize
pupils how to handle a car.

- All right, let's start
you through the inspection.

- Slap an okay on this
heap and let me roll.

- Take off your hubcaps.

- Do it yourself.

- If you want an inspection okay, Mister,

take off your hubcaps.

- All right, big man, I'll
play it your way, for now.

(announcer talking drowned
out by engines rumbling)

- How we doing?

- I can't pass the car, Ben.

- What are you handin' me?

- Front motor mount's not bolted down.

No safety cover on the flywheel.

No cotter pin in the front wheel.

- Boy, am I getting some runaround.

- Your car's a hazard,
Bronc, needs a lot of work.

- [Bronc] He just worked
it over a few days ago.

- I did the work you ordered,
and I also told you--

- There's nothing wrong with it!

This was a frame.

You dragged me out here so this chicken

could make me look like a jerk.

Why you.

- All right, Bronc, clear out.

- Afraid to let a real
driver on this kiddie strip.

- Get your car in shape
and you can come back.

- Fat chance!

I'll get you yet.

- I guess I made a mistake.

Thanks, Jeff, for keeping your head.

- What are you gonna do about him?

- I don't know.

I shoulda hauled him down to headquarters.

I wanted to give him a
break to try to help him.

- He doesn't want help, just trouble.

- If he comes looking for
it, Jeff, disappoint him.

- I'll try.

- Come on, I'll buy you a soda.

Oh, incidentally, as far as I'm concerned,

your probation is over.

- You mean I can drive?

- Just take it easy.

- You can count on that.

Thanks, Ben.

Hear that, honey?

I'm a free man.

- Well, not entirely.

(somber music)

(light jazz music)

(ominous music)

- I guess Bronc actually
thought I kept him

off the strip just to
make him look foolish.

- I'm afraid Ben's
wasting his time with him.

- I'm afraid so.

It feels good to be driving again.

(suspenseful music)

(tires squealing)

- Look at him out in
the middle of the road.

He's crazy.

- We're gonna try to pull clear of him.

(tires squealing)

- What'll we do?

He's crazy.

Can't we lose him?

- We can try.

(tires squealing)

(metal crashing)

(somber music)


Lisa, Lisa!

- Lisa's all right, her mother's with her.

- Good.

The boy?

- He's dead.

- [Bronc] Can I go now?

I told you all I know.

- Don't decide to leave town suddenly.

- Why should I?

I didn't kill the kid.

- Did you hit the boy, Jeff?

- I don't know, Ben, it happened so fast.

I was on the wrong side of the street

when I went around that curve--

- Because Bronc was chasing them,

trying to force 'em off
the road, and Jeff--

- I saw the boy, I tried
to cut away, he fell.

I guess I hit him, Ben, I don't know.

- Well, I'll speak to Lisa tomorrow.

She may remember.

- Can I take him home now?

- I'm sorry, Jeff will
have to come with me.

- You arresting him?

- I haven't any choice.

(Jeff sighs)

- A kid, an innocent little kid on a bike,

on his own side of the road.

And who hit him?

Your fair-haired boy on the
day you lift his probation.

Returned his license to kill.

- I told you, Captain,
Jeff was forced into this.

Even if it was his car that hit the child,

the circumstances--

- Oh, stop it, Ben.

Nobody's interested in the circumstances.

Northrup was paroled in my department

after his brother's death.

We lift the parole, bang, he's involved

in another fatal accident.

- Bronc Talbott was the instigator.

The child's death is his
moral responsibility.

- Look, I played it your way,
Ben, but this is the end.

I've got the department
to think of, my own job.

I'm too old to start over.

The mayor, the council, a
whole town screaming mad.

They want the old eye for an eye.

- So, what do you want me to do?

- It's not what I want.

They've asked me to close the drag strip,

slap a ban on all hot rods,
ask for your resignation.

- What about Jeff?

- His boss posted bail.

He's facing a manslaughter
charge, and I expect

the boy's parents will
hit him with a civil suit.

He's in serious trouble.

- Am I relieved of duty?

- Ben.

I'm sorry.

- Don't be.

I never thought you'd give
me as much rope as you did.

I've got a noose around my neck,

but I haven't started to swing.

Not yet anyway.

- Mother, I'm fine, please don't hurry.

All right.


(doorbell buzzing)

Hello Ben.

- [Ben] Hello Lisa, how do you feel?

- Oh, I'm fine.

How is he?

- Oh, not so good.

He's out on bail thanks to Henry.

- What do you think will happen to him?

- I don't know, he's in real hot water.

- But it wasn't his fault.

- Unfortunately, it won't be easy

to make a jury believe that.

Lisa, did you see your
car actually hit the boy?

- No, I was looking at Jeff.

What does he say?

- Well, he's not sure, but
Bronc swears it was your car.

- Naturally, he would.

You heard him threaten Jeff at the strip.

He'll do anything to try to get even.

- Which makes it all the more difficult

to prove Jeff's innocence.

Can you pick up Jeff and meet
me at Yo-Yo's in an hour?

- All right.

- Good.

- Oh Ben.

I guess you know how much we appreciate

what you're doing for him.

- Forget it, I've got a
big stake in this too.

See you at Yo-Yo's.

(door closes)

- Morning.

- Hoped I'd find you here, Talbott.

- How many times do I
have to go over my story?

- The truth bears repeating.

Coffee, please.

- Sure terrible about Jeff.

They'll throw the book at him, I suppose.

- If they can prove he's guilty.

- Prove it?

I saw it happen.

- Are you sure you're telling
us everything you saw?

- Now I get it.

They tied the can to you
because of your pigeon.

Now you're looking for a patsy.

Well, keep looking.

- I was just checking the
scene of the accident.

- So?

- The skid marks are very interesting.

Jeff's car appears to
have skidded off the road

50 feet before the point of impact.

On the other hand, your skid trail

goes right through the point
where the child was hit

and 100 feet beyond.

- Hey, smart cop, you're not gonna pin

any manslaughter rap on me.

Northrup's guilty.

- Well, under the circumstances,

you won't object to a closer
inspection of your car.

- What for?

- I noticed you had it washed.

- Any law against that?

- Ah, it doesn't matter.

What I wanted was a chemical comparison

of your car's finish with the paint flakes

found on the dead child's bicycle.

I've already got my sample.

- My car?

You had no right to do that.

- If you're telling the truth,

you've got nothing to worry about.

You look nervous.

Stick around, Talbott.

I have a feeling you'll be
hearing from me soon, very soon.

(glass shattering)

(ominous music)

- I'm going out, and don't try to stop me.

I'm warning you, don't get in my way.

(dramatic music)

- Call the police.

- Thanks, Jeff.

Looks like you've settled an old score.

- What started it?

- An envelope with paint
scrapings from his car.

- Did he admit to hitting the boy?

- Well, he might as well have.

He's already confessed by his actions.

I've got a lump on my head to prove it.

- You think everything
will be all right now?

- Well, we've still got
a fight on our hands,

but now the evidence is on our side.

I'm afraid I gave you one
chance too many, Talbott.

Let's go.

- Do you want us to go with you?

- No thanks, that won't be necessary.

Right now I'm gonna see
a man about a badge.

We've gotta begin our
project from scratch.

Are you with me?

- When do we start?

(dramatic orchestral music)

(upbeat jazz music)