Fast and the Furious, The (1955): Corman’s B-Level Chase Picture, Starring John Ireland and Dorothy Malone

The first film produced by the American International Pictures company, The Fast and the Furious (not to be confused with the new blockbuster franchise), was co-directed by Roger Corman and John Ireland, the Oscar nominee (“All the King’s Men”) who also plays the lead.

Jean Howell and Jerome Odlum’s screenplay, based on a story from Corman, centers on truck driver Frank Webster (Ireland), charged with murder he did not commit. While on the run, after breaking out of jail, he is cornered in a coffee shop by a zealous citizen, who recognizes him from news reports. Frank gets away, and kidnaps Connie (Dorothy Malone), and drives off in her jaguar sports car.

Her efforts to escape lead to a rougher treatment, but eventually they fall in love.  Eluding police, the couple slips into a cross-border sports car race, and Frank tries to escape into Mexico. Faber (Bruce Carlisle), one of Connie’s friends, becomes suspicious of Frank.

Frank then gives up his chance to escape, helping Faber who has crashed. Connie informs the police of his plan to reach Mexico so he might face trial and be acquitted.  Frank changes his mind and turns himself in.

The film was shot in 10 days, with Corman doing some of the second unit work himself.  A local Jaguar dealer donated his cars, and most of the exteriors were shot around Malibu. Dorothy Malone had left her agent and unemployed, accepted the part for peanuts.

Producer Neal H. Moritz and Universal licensed the title for 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, which went on to become a global blockbuster franchise.

 

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