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A Car is Born

Movies from the past starring: Cars!

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The smell of buttered popcorn. The daring,
high-speed car chase. The sound of soda being slurped through
a straw. Ahh … the movies.

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Many, like "American Graffiti" and
"Herbie Goes Bananas," have become familiar classics.
Others, like the obscure few about to be mentioned, are ones you
likely haven’t seen. They rarely show up on television – not even
on the late-night, B-movie theater – and are hard to find on videotape.
For some, though, it’s worth bugging the video clerk.

If you’re lucky enough to catch a midnight
showing, watching these action-packed auto adventures at home
won’t be the same as watching them on the big screen – but at
least there’s no gooey bubble gum stuck to the floor or the bottom
of your shoes.

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  • * Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)

The movie that made Charlie Chaplin famous, this oldie but goodie
is a comedy in which he gained attention by staring at the camera
while kiddie cars whizzed by and other comics overacted.

  • * Roar of the Crowd (1953)

Directed by William "One Shot" Beaudine, this auto-racing
movie featuring the Bowery Boys is among the director’s worst
works.

  • * Johnny Dark (1954)

Tony Curtis stars as a young auto designer determined to save
a stuffy car company from itself by designing the "Idaho
Special" and campaigning it in a cross-country race. If you’re
looking for auto action, these race scenes have cars sliding into
Reno at high velocity – and with no apparent concern for spectators.

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  • * The Racers (1955)

Kirk Douglas is a Grand Prix driver, and the racing is super dangerous.
Though the effects may look amateurish now, back then they were
thought of as pretty cool.

  • * Hot Rod Girl (1956)

This box-office unknown features Lori Nelson helping authorities
catch those oh-so-dangerous street racers. Watch the screen for
supporting actors Chuck "The Rifleman" Connors and Frank
"The Riddler" Gorshin.

  • * Hot Rod Gang (1958)

In this "it’s so terrible it’s good" flick, John Ashley
joins Gene Vincent’s band to earn money to enter "the big
race."

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  • * The Lively Set (1964)

A remake of "Johnny Dark," this spoof features James
Darren piloting one of Chrysler’s Turbine cars. If you’re still
looking for a racey plot, this version includes early ’60s surplus
stock cars performing some amazing acrobatics.

  • * Corky (1972)

In this movie’s starring role, Robert "Beretta" Blake
is obsessed with stock-car racing and shuts out everything else
in his life.

  • * Smash Palace (1981)

In this New Zealand film, an ex-Grand Prix driver returns to his
family’s business only to see it disintegrate, causing him to
go nuts. A good flick.

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  • * Born to Race (1988)

In this more recent race epic, Marla Heasley portrays an ace engine
designer. Will the bad guys get her blueprints? It’s edge-of-your-seat
action.

Writer Melissa Green is managing editor of BodyShop Business.

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