The Choppers (1961)

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Here is the film debut from Arch Hall, Jr., the helium voiced, pug nosed little runt who would not have had a career if his father didn’t produce his films.  At least in The Choppers, Arch Hall Sr. doesn’t hide behind a pseudonym when crediting himself as writer/producer.  But I guess Arch Hall Jr. has become aware of his cult appeal since he blatantly says it on his official website, http://archhalljr.com/bio.

The Choppers is a juvenile delinquent film in which a group of car strippers called – you guessed it – the Choppers drive around in a truck loaded with chicken cages, find an unoccupied car on the side of the road, and strip it for all its valuables.  The gang consists of underage criminal masterminds, each with his own technique and goofy nick name.  One guy is the muscles, one is the wise ass, one is the tech guy, one is something else and Arch Hall Jr. plays the lookout, driving around in his little dune buggy, making sure the coast is clear.  They pull one caper after another until their chicken truck leaves behind a feather of evidence (hahhahha!) and the movie ends in a ridiculous shoot-out, sending the message that “kids, crime doesn’t pay.”

Unlike in Wild Guitar, Hall is a brunette and his hair is gelled to the extreme.  The Choppers is completely silly and unbelievable yet it’s so much fun!  First of all, I can only imagine that car people will get a kick out of it, just looking at the crew dismantle classic vehicles like pros.  Secondly it’s only 56 minutes long, which in today’s cinematic world doesn’t even qualify for feature length.  You have no time to get bored.

Problems?  Yeah.  There are useless side characters like an old hillbilly intended to add comic relief but is just lame.  There’s a side story involving Arch Hall Jr.’s girlfriend or something.  It seems her only function is to be eye candy.  Then again you can say that about the other two female characters – the secretary and someone else I forgot.

Arch Hall Jr. wouldn’t be bad in the juvenile delinquent role considering his, shall we say, unconventional look.  But his voice is so damn high!  On the other hand Arch Hall Sr. does a decent enough job as the no-nonsense reporter and film narrator.  The other kids in the gang, though, man… most of them act like teens but the brawny tough guy in a leather jacket looks like he’s 40 and one of the kids clenches his teeth the entire time as he talks like a 1930s gangster for no particular reason.

I do plan on reading the lengthy bio on the website so if any other interesting tidbits from this or any of his other films – all of which I plan on watching – surface, I’ll most definitely let ya know!

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