56 Years Ago This Week…

opened in 1962 starring and Nancy Czar, cover gal. It was directed by Ray Dennis Steckler a.k.a. Cash Flagg and produced and written  A dancer trying to make it big in Hollywood, Vicki (Czar) meets at the Coffee Cup Cafe (shamelessly decorated with posters from Arch Hall, Sr.’s previous movies) the newly arrived Bud Eagle (Hall, Jr.) described as “a guitar-playing, motorcycle-riding hipster” who comes to the big city from South Dakota to become a rock ‘n’ roll star. Feeling sorry for him as he spends his last fifteen cents on coffee and a donut, she offers her sandwich, which he gulps down heartily. When she finds out he is a musician, she invites him to accompany her to The Hal Kenton Show, a national talent program. Steckler (whom Nancy described as being “a real trip”) directed these scenes rather oddly with medium shots of Czar sitting at the counter looking up and speaking her lines it seemed to the Klieg lights.

On the TV program, Vicki twists with abandon in a solo while Bud watches from the wings. As luck would have it, an ailing singer bows out and Bud takes his place stealing the show. He is signed by promoter Mike McCauley (William Watters aka Arch Hall, Sr.). He allows Bud to live in a penthouse apartment, with private swimming pool, but asserts complete authority over the boy including prohibiting him to meet back up with Vicki at the café. Instead, McCauley sends his weird beady-eyed associate Steak (Steckler) to retrieve Bud’s belongings. Steak lies to Bud that Vicki was a no-show and that Marge the waitress (Marie Denn) hit him up for $10 to get his suitcase back. In reality, Vicki was there and deeply disappointed that Bud stood her up and never mentioned her according to Steak. She shows up back at the café a few weeks later still crestfallen. Marge plays Bud’s first single on the jukebox for her and she then heads to a record store to buy a copy.

Bud is feeling gloomy too when he learns McCauley has paid off high school students to start up his fan clubs across LA. “Does everything have to be so phony,” he asks. When Bud says he has had it and is returning home, McCauley pretends to agree and then mentions the $50,000 he invested in Bud to make him a star. The boy falls for his lie and agrees to stick around for six months to earn the money back. Bud becomes the newest teen sensation and on a national TV show croons “Vicki” a love song to the girl that got away.  Vicki sits at home watching and is touched by the feeling he puts into the tune. She hightails it over to the studio and the couple reunites. Instead of heading to the nearest motel, they go ice skating—in Los Angeles! Obviously this was to show off Czar’s expert skating skills, which she does quite nicely.

The next day, Bud receives a late night drunken visit from former singer and McCauley client Don Proctor (Robert Crumb) who schools Bud to the ways of his manager’s shady dealings including how he cheats his protégés out of royalties. Proctor ends up unconscious at the bottom of a stairwell at the hands of Steak, while Vicki catches Bud in the arms of a sexpot hired to seduce him. While running after his love, Bud is jumped by three low-lives that hang around the Coffee Cup Café and is kidnapped. The bunglers have no idea what to do so Bud helps them out writing his own ransom note demanding $15,000. After retrieving the money, the trio is followed by Steak. A melee starts and Bud slips away. Hiding out, he takes a job as a dishwasher at Marge’s diner where he reunites again with Vicki.

A clean-cut young man shows up at McCauley’s office and for $20 reveals Bud’s whereabouts. He turns out to be Bud’s brother Ted and he secretly tapes McCauley while he threatens Bud and Vicki with violence if the singer tries to get a new manager or doesn’t show up at the scheduled gigs.  Bud gets to beat the crap out of Steak, but decides to stay with McCauley, due to his “smarts,” with a renegotiated contract. McCauley’s first idea is to put Bud and Vicki into a movie about the Twist. Wild Guitar ends on the beach with Bud singing “Twist Fever” with Vicki, inexplicably clad in a man’s shirt over her swimsuit, shimmying besides him.

Hall, Sr. and Jr. made a few popular thought less-then-stellar movies (The Choppers, Eegah, and The Nasty Rabbit) and Wild Guitar is arguably the most admired due to the straightforward storytelling (somewhat aping true life as it was reported that Hall, Jr. never wanted to act and was pushed into it by his father) and the energetic twisting by Nancy Czar who also has a nice believable rapport with Hall. They make quite a cute couple.

Pretty blonde Nancy Czar (born Nancy Jean Czarnecki in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) went from champion figure skater to Elvis’ girlfriend to actress all by the time she was twenty. However, unlike many of Presley’s former lovers and co-stars who give interviews and attend Elvis conventions, Nancy Czar (who had small parts in his musicals Girl Happy and Spinout), has been tight lipped about her relationship with the King until now. Besides working with Elvis, Czar had leading roles in Wild Guitar starring Arch Hall, Jr. and the beach-party-in-the-snow Winter a-Go-Go.

Commenting in Wild Guitar, Nancy Czar said,

Arch Hall, Jr. was very nice and recently got in touch with me after all these years. Arch Hall, Sr. was just as sweet and shot this movie with practically no money. Since I was an ice skater they purposely wrote in an ice skating scene.

You wouldn’t believe what a huge following this film. It is funnier than hell to me. I think most of it is because the second unit photographer was who is one of today’s top cinematographers in the entire business. Film schools study his film technique and this is one of his earliest jobs. I never looked at the movie other than looking at the movie until I started to really look at it. For its small budget it does not look like other B-films at the time. I never knew why until I realized it was due to Vilmos’ exemplary work on it.

 

 

 

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