Wild Guitar (1962)

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This movie is actually less exciting than that horrible poster makes it out to be.

Motorcycle riding, poor Elvis impersonator and idol wannabe Bud Eagle arrives in California looking for his big break in the music industry. Of course he gets it (and his dream girl), but along the way has to deal with a highly corrupt manager, his thug, and a bumbling band of incompetent kidnappers.

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The entire premise of this movie screams ‘drive-in fodder.’ There are so many clichés in here that it’s almost painful. Bud is the good looking (that’s debatable), but naïve hero. He falls in love with essentially the first girl he meets. There are montages of records and money. The bad guys are not only evil, but look evil and would come across to anyone else but the hero as crooked if they spent more than 10 seconds with them.

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One of the dude’s is named is Steak, for god’s sake. Don’t trust anyone who calls themselves Steak.

The lead, Arch Hall Jr., starred in a handful of films in the 60’s, all different genres, but is probably best know as being that funny looking singer in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Eegah!, the guy who the boys hope will accidentally shoot himself while he’s out wandering the dessert. His character really doesn’t fare too much better in Wild Guitar, although in this movie the audience has the benefit (or horrible affliction) of watching him sing several more times.

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At a little over 90 minutes the movie is also way too long for what they were going for, yet at the same time not long enough to fully resolve anything. Several plot points either get resolved too quickly, don’t reach a finite resolution, or don’t reach a solution that makes any plausible sense. At some point someone should have had them cut the fat, but it didn’t happen and as a result there are several instances where the movie plods along at an eye-twitching pace. I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise coming from a film that named one of their characters “Steak.”  Oh, and in another fun bit of trivia, Mr. Steak, by the way, is played by Ray Dennis Steckler, who not only also appeared previously with Hall Jr. in Eegah!, but whose very next film project was directing and starring in the film The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?, which was another movie that was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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A still that’s more exciting than 90% of the movie.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on it. Perhaps I just can’t dig the light-hearted vibe the movie was going for. Perhaps I’ve just grown out of the demographic. Or perhaps I just couldn’t stand the “Duuuh” look that seemed to be on Bud’s face for most of the film. But Wild Guitar was just not something that I enjoyed. I’m usually happy to sit through a little light-hearted musical, and while the music itself was decent enough (despite my belief that the singer has a face for radio) the plot just made me cringe one too many times.

If you enjoy 60’s drive-in, semi-musical movies, then by all means give this a go. Or if you like…. no, wait. That’s the only demographic I can think of that would enjoy this film. So have at it, whoever you are.

Wild Guitar is available on several streaming services.

It is also available on DVD.

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Michi

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