The Choppers (1961)

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Here is the film debut from Arch Hall, Jr., the helium voiced, pug nosed midget, 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.

The Choppers is a juvenile delinquent film, in which a group of car strippers called – you guessed it – the Choppers drives around in a truck loaded with chicken cages, finds an unoccupied car on the side of the road, and strips it for all its valuable items.  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 one is Arch Hall Jr., who is the lookout of the group, 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 totally fun. First of all, I can only imagine that car people will get a kick out of it just from looking at the crew dismantle classic vehicles like pros.  Secondly, it’s only 56 minutes long, which, in today’s cinematic world, would disqualify it as a feature length film, so you have no time to get bored.

Of course, there are some problems, like the useless side characters; the old hillbilly intended to add comic relief is just lame. There’s also 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 as well.

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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