This two pack contains two rock-ploitation films from the 50s.First up is Don't Knock the Rock(released Dec/56) and Rock Around the Clock(released Mar/56).The former is the weaker of the two.But both have since become pieces of rock n roll filmic history.
Don't Knock the Rock stars,among others,Alan Dale,Patricia Hardy,Fay Baker,Alan Freed,Billy Haley and the Comets,Little Richard,The Treniers and Dave Appell and the Applejacks.The story,typical of the genre,has Dale as a top name RnR singer,burned out in NYC.He returns to his small hometown for a rest to find his type of music isn't welcome there.In hopes of persuading the town that RnR isn't all that bad,he puts on a concert with the likes of Little Richard,Bill Haley,Dave Appell and the Treniers.The show is prematurely shutdown when a girl deliberately makes trouble for Dale when he spurns her advances.Dale then tries one last time and puts a show on with culture as its main theme.It wins the parents over and all live happily ever after.
The film is full of the schism between the young kids and the older generation kind of stuff...yawn.The plot is a long and meandering one and lacks any substance.Dale was a singer in real life but he had a not all too successful run at the showbiz ladder.The best thing about the film are the RnR acts.Little Richard's Tuttii Fruitti had the bridge cut out of it because,if I recall,it was a bit too wild.The Treniers had a great visual act,like the Flamingo's.In fact this type of music was already being done by pioneer Louis Jordan.Dave Appell went on to greater success as a producer/writer for Cameo records in the 60s, with such acts as Chubby Checkers,The Orlons,Bobby Rydell,etc.There didn't seem to be too many Cameo records that didn't have his name on them somewhere back then.I'd give this film a 2 1/2- 3 stars.
Rock Around the Clock stars,among others,Johnny Johnston,Alix Talton,Lisa Gaye,John Archer,Alan Freed, Bill Haley and His Comets,The Platters,Tony Martinez and His Mambo and Freddie Bell and His Bellboys.The story finds a big band manager being fired because of his lack of tenacity in getting bookings for the orchestra.The"truth" is is that bookings are drying up because of the RnR craze emerging.He finds such a group in a small town.He hires them(Haley)and falls in love with a female dancer that also goes along and dances to the groups music.He goes to NYC and convinces an old agent friend to book the new act into a club for a try out.The agent is his ex girlfriend and she books the band into a very proper all girls school dance.The gig almost doesn't go over but squeaks by in the end.The agent refuses to hire them.When he starts to take on the band personally the bookings start to come in and the agent returns offering them a steady job.The only stipulation is that the girl not get married for three years.Near the end of the film after a successful concert,the girl announces that she is married to the band manager.When the agent threatens to sue he tells her that they were already married before the contract was drawn up.Fade out.
Despite it also being a shallow plotted film this one shows some consistent good editing, and the film moves along very well,holding your interest far better than the other.Haley and the group are on hand with some of heir biggest hits and the Platters smoke it with Only You and The Great Pretender.Freddie Bell and his group would later appear in Get Yourself a College Girl with the Dave Clark Five about 10 years later.He never had a hit in North America, but he would go on to Vegas where his high energy stage act would get good raves.Tony Martiniez while a talented musician/singer would never get the accolades he deserved in that department.The 50s show the Real McCoys came a calling and he would appear on the entire run of that show as Pepino the handyman.Alan Freed,one of RnR's giant figures.He helped to popularize the whole genre of RnR out his Cleveland,then NYC studio programs.RnR owes Freed an untold debt.Unfortunately poor Alan became a major figure in the Payola scandals of the late 50s which took down so many good folks.He was never the same afterwards.He passed away in /65 at only 43 years of age.I give this film a 3 1/2-4 star rating.
Technically speaking both films are in their original B&W w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and look wonderful.There are no extras.Both are one sided discs in their own slip cases.
All in all two now-historical Rock and Roll films are brought together in one package by Columbia.Both show us some of the pioneers of the genre at their peak."Rock Around..."is the better of the two,not falling into the usual traps of its counterpart here and of others of its ilk that would spring up ad nauseum.It all averages out to three stars but if you like Rock and Roll these are two treasures to own.