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Death rides a stripped down roadster as thrill-seeking teens take their hormones to the highway. Young Mickey Clark (Darryl Hickman) and his high-school buddies live for drag-racing. They build their own hot-rods and test their bravado in illegal competitions on back-country roads, egged on by excitable girlfriends. Mickey's dad likes to think that he's taught the boy good driving sense, but sets a bad example by driving recklessly even while lecturing on road safety. The hardest driving lesson lies up ahead on a dark road, when Mickey is involved in a speeding hit-and-run pile-up that kills his best friend and puts his own mother in the hospital. Filled to overflowing with high-octane hip lingo and a load of bad driving, The Devil on Wheels is a better than average example of the kind of preachy juvenile delinquent films aimed at the wayward youth of the 40s and 50s. Writer and director Crane Wilbur's works spanned over five decades, including an early exploitation film about forced sterilization, Tomorrow's Children (1934). He also penned the screenplay for House of Wax (1953) as well as The Bat (1959) and Mysterious Island (1961). Darryl Hickman had a well-established career as a child actor in the 40s, with prominent roles in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Men of Boy's Town (1941), The Human Comedy (1943) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Terry Moore, who plays one of the nubile hot-rod "mascots" using the screen name Jan Ford, was 18 when she appeared here. Two years later she led a giant ape around by the hand in Mighty Joe Young (1949), as well as taking the hand of Hollywood giant Howard Hughes in a secret marriage ceremony. In 1952 she garnered an Oscar nomination for her sizzling performance opposite Burt Lancaster in Come Back, Little Sheba.

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ALP4983 Devil On Wheels DVD (1947/Darryl Hickman) $5.99