Wild Guitar (1962)

Wild Guitar PosterArch Hall, Jr. was supposed to be some type of manufactured movie star/teen idol, but something apparently went horribly wrong in the manufacturing process.

Chalk it up to Arch’s poor musical material, his poor choice in movies (his car stealing epic The Choppers was at least silly fun, while this guitar epic is flat and fairly cartoonish), or more likely that Ric Flair-colored hair poofed up into some type of layered and stratified monstrosity that seems to predict the coming of other idiotically-coiffed music wannabes like Flock of Seagulls.

The beginning of the movie starts with about thirty-five minutes of opening credits. It always seems that with these low-budget dung piles that everybody who ever contributed one kernel of corn to the giant ball of crap the movie is, needs to have their name up there before the action starts. It’s especially silly in this case since all the names are either Arch Hall, Jr., Arch Hall, Sr., and Ray Dennis Steckler or their various pseudonyms.

While these credits are rolling (and rolling and rolling) we see Arch Hall, Jr. as Bud Eagle traipsing around L.A. past famous landmarks like the Capital Records building, that Chinese theater, and all those footprints and handprints in the sidewalk. Bud is understandably awe-struck as he attempts to match his hands with the prints left by television legend Greg Evigan or somebody.

He ends up at this greasy spoon where a kindly (we know she’s kindly because she’s so dang homely!) woman gives him a break on his bill, not charging him the extra penny on the coffee and donut Bud ordered.

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Along with the old lady running the hash joint, an aspiring actress or go-go dancer or whatever she was supposed to be named Vickie is hanging out. She’s the innocent who falls for the guy trying to make it big and at some point the music business will come between them and break them apart.

Vickie starts talking to Bud and tells him that his little letter of introduction from the radio station in his hick town isn’t going to cut the mustard with the big guys at A&R so she tells him to come along with her to this talent show. (Her talent is something where she stands around dancing like someone dumped centipedes in her panties.)

Bud gets his big break when the guy who was supposed to go on chickens out. Bud runs out there, trips, gets back up, croaks out his white bread brand of rock and bore and the crowd goes absolutely nuts. Bud Eagle is a hit!

Mike McCauley (Arch Sr.) over at Fairway records sees him and knows that he has to sign him to a crooked deal immediately.

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Mike tries to lay the law down on Bud, telling him that he can’t be seeing Vickie anymore because he needs to concentrate on his music. He sets Bud up in a sweet apartment, gets him a new guitar and hires local kids to manage Bud’s new fan clubs.

Bud is of course disgusted by this idea. He’s one of those “old school” types who wants people to like him because they really like him, not because Mike McCauley greased their palms with some bread.

Mike brainstorms with the kids he’s hired as to what sort of fad they should start. Luckily the idea for some kind of dance was nixed.

What was settled upon though was much, much worse. An eagle’s feather! Everyone will wear these lice-infested bird feathers in their hair to symbolize their slavish devotion to their prefab idol, Bud Eagle!

Bud wants out of things, but Mike lays a guilt trip on him about all the money he has invested in making him a big star. He says it’s something like $50,000 and even though Bud only has a few new suits, new guitar, and some disillusionment to show for all his work singing and recording, he agrees to stay on for six months and work diligently to pay off Mike’s investment

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Mike’s henchman Steak meanwhile has told Vickie some lie about how Bud didn’t want anything to do with her and also has been intercepting all the letters to and from Bud’s brother from back home and writing his own letters instead.

And then there is disgruntled recording has-been Don Proctor. He shows up at Bud’s place drunk and smartens him up on the way the business works.

Just when it seems all is lost for Bud (he gets conned into working for Mike forever and Vickie sees him with another woman) a miracle occurs. Bud gets kidnapped!

Three dopey crooks who hang out at the greasy spoon where Bud met Vickie, kidnap Bud. Bud gets the gun away from them and decides that it would be okay to be kidnapped and to make Mike pay through the nose to get him back. This is an abysmal sidetrack to an otherwise routinely stupid film.

Unlike its companion film on the Something Weird Video DVD, The Choppers, Wild Guitar isn’t all that much fun to sit through. Bud is so stereotypically naive and hick-ish that you really don’t have a lot of empathy for him and find it equally hard to believe that he and his brother could outsmart a rash, let alone a mean old record promoter.

The story itself is simplistic in its portrayals of everyone, but not in an entertaining way like in The Choppers. Teaming the dull-witted Vickie with the dull-acting Arch Hall, Jr. doesn’t exactly set your TV on fire and you cringe whenever they try to have a moment of tenderness together. The only thing I could say that might make it worth your while to sit through is to check out Bud’s hairdo. It’s like an entirely new life form!

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