Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1960s Choppers, The (1961)

Choppers, The (1961)

Unfortunate-looking would-be teen-idol Arch Hall Jnr. starred in a series of low-rent juvie drive-in movies in the early 60s which were written and produced by his doting – or cheap – dad, Arch Hall Sr. This was the first.

Hall the younger is “Cruiser”, a member of a juvenile ring who cruise around the country in a chicken truck (!) stripping abandoned cars and selling the parts to the unscrupulous ‘Big Deal Auto Salvage’ yard run by Moose (Bruno VeSota) and Cowboy (Britt Wood).

The other “choppers” include Torch (Robert Paget) – who “loves convertibles, pretty girls, ready cash” according to the narrator, Flip (Rex Holman) – “his first theft was a peanut butter sandwich at school”, Ben Shore (Chuck Barnes) and The Snooper (Burr Middleton) who can “make a radio out of wire and tin cans”.

The boys eat at the Chick A Dilly diner; they listen to songs called Konga Joe and Monkey in My Hatband (which were also recorded by Arch Hall Jr) and they speak in ‘hip’ 1950s slang, saying things such as “grease this palm, daddy-O. Peel off those cabbage leaves”.

Cruiser gets the film’s final line, however: “We had a ball, a real ball”, is the teen terror’s unrepentant summation after he is led away by the police after a deadly shootout at Moose’s salvage yard.

The lighting is bad, the sound is bad and the acting is bad – but Playboy Playmate of the Month for September 1959, Marianne Gaba, brightens up the screen momentarily.

Jack ‘Cruiser’ Bryan
Arch Hall Jr.
‘Torch’ Lester
Robert Paget
Tony ‘The Snooper’ Pinelli
Burr Middleton (as Mickey Hoyle)
Flip Johnson
Rex Holman (as Roye Baker)
Ben Shore
Chuck Barnes
Tom Hart
Tom Brown
Marianne Gaba
Police Lt. Frank Fleming
William Shaw
Moose McGill
Bruno VeSota
Cowboy Boggs
Britt Wood
Dee Gee Green
Torch’s Father
Richard Cowl
Officer Jenks
Patrick Hawley
Jim Bradford (narrator)
Arch Hall Sr.
Carmella N. Hall

Leigh Jason