Movie Review: Shake, Rattle and Rock (1956)

Synopsis: Disc jockey Garry Nelson has successfully used rock music to reduce juvenile delinquency in his town. Despite this, his television show is at risk of being canceled because of a militant group of concerned citizens that object to the songs he plays. His only hope is to defend rock and roll in a publically-broadcasted trial.

Who's in it? The movie stars Mike Connors, Sterling Holloway, Lisa Gaye, Margaret Dumont and Fats Domino.

Review: I decided to change things up yesterday morning and, instead of selecting a murder mystery, looked for something a bit different. This film sounded interesting and I wound up watching it.

To be honest, I wasn't really expecting much from this movie. From the description, it sounded like it was a film that would mostly showcase some of the stars from the time period. And, I wasn't completely wrong, a good chunk of this movie featured performers like Fats Domino and Big Joe Turner. The overall movie, however, turned out to be better than expected.

I think the thing I liked most about this film was the uncertainty surrounding Nelson's (Connors) efforts to both keep his show on the air and raise money for a new youth center. Even though the group opposing him only consisted of four people, they managed to get the job done, both by making the television network nervous and shutting down a fundraising concert. Even when he decided to plead his case to the public by holding a trial, the odds seemed to be stacked against him.

I also liked the part about his efforts upsetting a local crime boss (Paul Dubov), mostly because I felt that subplot created a bit of a wildcard. The concerned citizens group would use legal methods to stop him, a crime boss wouldn't be afraid to cross some lines, especially since, unlike the concerned citizens group, Nelson's efforts were directly affecting the crime boss by taking away his juvenile criminals.

My only real complaint about this movie is I wasn't a huge fan of Albert 'Axe' McAllister (Holloway), Nelson's hipster friend. I think Holloway did a good job in the performance, especially with the whole "other language" he spoke throughout the movie. I just don't feel the character aged well and probably seemed a lot more funny when the movie was released than today. I'm also still a little confused about whether or not he was supposed to be a teenager (Holloway, at the time, was in his 50s) or a middle-aged adult who acted like a teenager (which, frankly, is a little creepy).

Final Opinion: It's a simple movie with a simple plot. However, it does manage to be entertaining, both because of  great performances from classic singers and decent comedy. It's worth taking the time to watch if you have an opportunity.

My Grade: B+


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