AMERICAN HOT WAX
US, 1977, 91 minutes, Colour.
Tim Mc Intire.
Written and directed by Floyd Mutrux.
In 1973 the documentary feature Let the Good Times Roll showed us the odd origins (in retrospect) of rock and roll, its stars and the righteous opposition on all official levels in the U.S. Each short film sketches deejay Alan Freed and the three days preceding his anniversary concert, 1958, which ended in its being disbanded and his losing his job and prestige. American anthology background of the popular songs. The atmosphere of radio, its influence, the dreams of would-be stars, the incessant chatter of businessmen, hopeful and hangers-on is vividly captured, making the film of interest for adults as well as the 70s Grease generation.
1. An interesting film? Echoing the 70s nostalgia, the view of the 50s?
2. The use of the 70s film techniques to portray the 50s? The re-creation of New York at the time, the world of radio, teenagers, rock and roll and its musical and social impact?
3. The 70s views of the 50s, affectionate, the memories of rock and roll and its lasting impact, the enjoyment of the 50s and their energy, the creativity of the times, the hopes? The importance of the opposition and the souring of attitudes in the late 50s?
4. The film as a tribute to and partial biography of Alan Freed. Mr. Rock and Roll? As a person, his influence and enthusiasm, the effect that he had on so many people, why? The importance of seeing him just over a few days ?his achievement? His becoming a victim and it being the end of his career?
5. How interesting a portrait of Alan Freed? His coining of the words 'rock and roll', the way the film presented his role and influence on the radio, his personality on the air, his sincerity, enjoyment of the music, defying of the authorities? Seeing him in three days but in his work for the radio, for the concert, in his relationships with his assistants, with businessmen, with would-be artists? The importance of seeing only small glimpses of his private life e.g. his phone call to his father, giving money to his father, wanting to buy the large house? His skill at his work, his style on the radio,, smoking, listening, arguing? The range of his friends? His sincerity? The number of auditions the way that he really listened, even if briefly? working at his desk, talking, meeting all the hucksters and dealing with them, exercising his judgement? The soft side of his professional work, with Arty and the radio broadcast on Buddy Holly's birthday Louise and her music, his relationship with his secretary and tolerance of her and her sparring with Mike his driver?
6. How well did the film reflect his love and teenagers' love for the rock and roll music? Indicating its particular styles, quality, the influence on attitudes and behaviour, its use on the radio? The promotions and his refusal to sign an affidavit because of the link-ups of people giving gifts to one another. the records and his presence at the recording sessions and encouragement? His wanting to buy the house - and the tour of it the drinks, the English manager and people not wanting him to buy the house?
7. The significance of the memorial concert? The way the film presented all the plans, the indication of the fears the Boston experience? The night before and the people lining up, the Chesterfields and their singing outside his office, working with Louise, his kindness towards them and putting them on the programme, the behaviour of the crowds and their lining up, Freed and his being generous to them with presents coffee etc, the police and indications of potential hostile attitudes? The build-up to the concert itself and its atmosphere, the arrival of the stars? The importance of rehearsals, the acts, success for such people as Louise? The real stars: Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis performing their familiar styles? In the context of history and their performing freely and in gratitude to rock and roll ? with the opposition hoping that this would destroy the concert?
8. Did the film present the opposition fairly, the personalities involved, the types of persons and their civic roles, their authority, their beliefs, their listening to tapes of Freed on the radio, their tactics and meetings? The indications of drugs and the investigations of Freed himself even to his dressing room? The importance of the confrontations at the theatre and the dimming and the bringing up of the lights? Their hostile reaction to the music and their disapproval? The irony of their temporary winning? How justified were their complaints ? the music, the lyrics, the teenage behaviour, the artists themselves? Seeing the acts and the audience response in the light of this? The teenagers and their enthusiasm and dancing in the aisles? The teenagers and their not understanding, why the opposition, the lights coming up and the stampede out of the theatre?
9. The presentation of the Chesterfields as typical of the rock and roll groups of the time, personalities, singing and skills, Louise working with them?
10. The showing of the auditions, the variety of people coming to the studios, the continual hubbub? Genuine talent, the familiar songs in retrospect?
11. Arty, seeing him at home and studying and smoking, his parents, persuading the janitor to let him in, his presence at the concert and other places, the emotional response to the birthday of Buddy Holly?
12. Louise and her composition, the attitude of her mother and father, not understanding her music or listening to it, against the Chesterfields and the Negro presence? The importance of these home scenes as contrast to the scenes with Freed?
13. The secretary and her efficiency, humorlessness, consciousness of her appearance, ordering Allan Freed's life? Incessant talking? Mike and his driving, his attentions to the secretary and their humorous bickering?
14. The three days in retrospect of the ending - the closure and the final information about Freed and his bankruptcy? His death? The film as an appropriate tribute? Its depth, honesty, timeliness in the 70s?
15. Themes of teenagers enjoying music the dangers of trends, these seen in retrospect?
16. The impact of the final information and the photo of the real Freed? The quality of Tim McIntyre's performance as the strength of the film? The appeal of this film in America, overseas? The necessity of this kind of film as some kind of echo of past times?