Don't Knock the Rock

If you have a hankering for a hideously dated, lovingly tacky, and unbelievably rockin' musical, Rock Rock Rock (1956) is for you. When Alan Freed* isn't showing off his own musical chops (who knew?), the story focuses on high school student Dori Graham (a thirteen year-old Tuesday Weld**) who spontaneously breaks into song (dubbed by Connie Francis) and dance to communicate to hunky local talent contest winner turned egomaniacal superstar Tommy how much she loves him.

The film was shot at the time of Weld's very public pre-teen battle with drugs and booze, but amidst the film's fluffy backdrop, you would never imagine she could be a suicidal, raging alcoholic. Naturally. Who didn't mask their problems in the Eisenhower '50s? In any event, I rated this gem a whopping five stars on Netflix for kitsch, costume design, and the excellent musical performances by Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, LaVern Baker, and more.

* My introduction to Alan Freed was in an eighth grade music history class. The first day of class, our teacher explained that Alan Freed coined the term rock 'n' roll. Our teacher also taught us that the definition of music is "organized sound." A few days later when we learned some guitar basics, my teacher listened to my progress and urged "Organized sound," to which I replied, "Well, this is organized noise."

** My introduction to Tuesday Weld was her portrayal of Elvis Presley's biggest fan in Heartbreak Hotel. This was my favorite movie for a week or two sometime in 1988. It's no Rock Rock Rock, but she was still kind of awesome in her adult years (see also Feeling Minnesota, in which she played the hapless mother of Keanu and the 'Nof).



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