51 Years Ago Today…

The AIP racecar drama Thunder Alley opened. Fabian is a stock car racer suspended from racing after he causes the death of another driver. He goes to work for promoter Jan Murray’s “thrill circus” and falls for his daughter Annette Funicello. If you can’t get Frankie Avalon, Fabian is a nice subsitute. Diane McBain is once again the bad girl as Fabian’s thrill-seeking  former girlfriend who uses rival racecar driver Warren Berlinger to get back at her ex. Though directed by Richard Rush (The Stunt Man), Thunder Alley is a standard programmer but perfect for the sixties drive-in crowd. Choreography was actor/dancer Christopher Riordan and former beach party gals Salli Sachse, Mary Hughes, and Luree Holmes decorate the background.

Commenting in Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema, Diane McBain said with a laugh:

“I don’t remember much about this film.  Most of my off screen time was spent watching them film In the Heat of the Night with Sidney Poitier next door…But I did enjoy working with Fabian.  He’s very nice.”


Comments: 3

Leave a reply »

  • Michael H

    I prefer Thunder Alley over Fireball 500. The setting was the same but the storyline and the performances by Annette and Fabian were much better. Also, Richard Rush had a better feel for the racetrack setting than William Asher. Both films used cheap looking stock footage for the racing sequences. Some may have been shot on location at the actual races by a second unit photographer, but they still looked cheap to me. Diane McBain did a nice job as the “bad girl” but I remember thinking how far she had fallen from her initial build-up at WB. She had more talent than she was given credit for and I always thought WB treated her poorly.

    • I agree about Thunder Alley but felt Warren Berlinger was miscast big time and needed an actor with more good looks like an Aron Kincaid. You should read Diane McBain’s memoir where she addresses quite honestly what happened after leaving Warner Bros.

      Fireball 500 was a continuation of the beach movies with most of the regular cast. I still like it though.

  • Michael H

    Good point about Warren Berlinger. He wasn’t believable on Annette or Diane’s arm, was he? I honestly can’t resist either movie or any of the AIP beach films for that matter. Too much of my adolescent DNA attached to that era.

  • Leave a Reply
    Your gravatar
    Your Name