Wild Guitar (1962)

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When I put on Wild Guitar, the first thing I looked for was the credits to say, “Produced by Arch Hall Sr.”  As it turns out, writer/producer Nicholas Merriweather IS the senior Arch Hall!!!  I first saw Arch Hall Jr. performing musical numbers in Eegah!, where, with only a single acoustic guitar, he managed to produce the sound of a full band with backup singers as he sang about some girl named Vicki.

Of course, we all thought, who is this “Vicki”?  Is this some sort of joke?  The girl in Eegah! isn’t named “Vicki”!  Well, friends, the mystery is solved with Wild Guitar!

Armed with a troll-like face and a pompadour from hell, Buddy Eagle (Hall Jr.) heads to Los Angeles from South Dakota on his hog, which is strangely never seen again, and becomes a big time star.  And thanks to his talent and charisma, he does so in less than 15 minutes, before which he meets his sweetheart Vicki (!!!) (Nancy Czar).  And let me tell you; they are a perfect match as she is no beauty herself!

After Eagle makes his TV debut, Michael McCaulley (Arch Hall Sr.) becomes the sleazy, dictatorial manager, forcing poor Buddy Eagle to choose between his gal and playing his old, beat up acoustic guitar.  But Eagle starts to suspect something’s not totally kosher with their deal when McCaulley begins raking in the dough, and Eagle doesn’t.

Wild Guitar is a pretty standard film about a young star rising to fame and all the troubles and tribulations that come with it. But, come on, now.  The fun of watching the movie comes from watching Arch Hall Jr. hem and haw through every line, play hilarious musical numbers, and attempt to be a teen heart throb.

Now, I didn’t live back then, so I can’t say what the ladies’ tastes were, but it’s obvious that Arch Hall Jr. is no Elvis or Frankie Avalon. He’s just a clumsy looking, awkward no talent, who had his dad cast in the film.  I don’t care about such things; I’m all for nepotism in Hollywood in films, especially when it leads to casting your poor son, who, for all I know, might not have even wanted to step 1,000 feet in front of a camera, but hey!

On the other hand, for what it’s worth, Arch Hall Sr. portrays the typical, sleazy, cigar chomping manager from the era with great ease.  There are a few extra characters; a brother of some sort,  three goofy, non-threatening thugs, and my favorite of the bunch, a REALLY creepy looking “strong arm” thug, who is actually really skinny and not strong, named Steak (Cash Flagg)…

Hold it!  That guy, Cash Flagg, is actually Ray Dennis Steckler, who is the film’s director and master auteur behind The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!

Oh and the musical numbers are surprisingly catchy.  They recycle “Vicki” from Eegah!, but the other one, the one he plays on the TV, is actually pretty good!  Didja know Arch Hall Jr. has an entire CD called Wild Guitar, that contains all of his recorded work?  The thrills just never stop!

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