Thunder in Dixie


1h 13m 1965

Brief Synopsis

Mickey Arnold is a loving husband and a good friend to Ticker Welsh. However, when Mickey finds out that Ticker has seduced his wife, their friendship collapses. Now, the two are in a battle of wits, and Mickey can only win his wife back by getting first place in the annual Bible-Belt Race-a-Thon.

Film Details

Also Known As
Thundering Wheels
Release Date
May 1965
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Willpat Productions
Distribution Company
MPI Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

In Atlanta's "Dixie 400," racer Ticker Welsh competes against his former partner Mickey Arnold. The sullen Ticker blames Mickey for the death of his fiancée, Edna, 3 months earlier, and intends to revenge himself during the race. Ticker's new girl friend, the widowed Karen Hallett, attempts to dissuade him, as does Mickey's wife, Lili, but Ticker is obdurate. Mickey discloses Edna's infidelity the night of the auto accident, further enraging his old friend. During the "Dixie 400" Ticker's anger backfires and he is injured, while Mickey wins the race. At the hospital Mickey and Ticker renew their friendship, and Karen declares her love for the injured racer.

Film Details

Also Known As
Thundering Wheels
Release Date
May 1965
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Willpat Productions
Distribution Company
MPI Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Speed Lovers/Thunder in Dixie - SPEED LOVERS & THUNDER IN DIXIE - A Hot Rod Double Feature for Drag Race Fans on DVD


Something Weird Video scores big with two Southern hotrod flicks packaged with lots of great shorts.

Speed Lovers (1968), featuring a Billy Lee Riley title song that's worth the price of admission, is a low-budget slice of racing heaven, "Filmed in "Speedcolor!" Callow youth Scott Clayton wants out on the track, even though he's never raced before. You gotta give it to the kid for nerve. Neither his father, "Flip", head mechanic to Fred Lorenzen, nor real-life racer Lorenzen, playing himself, want to give this kid a break, and you can't blame them. Played by the film's director, William F. McGaha (who also produces and co-writes), Scott is an obnoxious guy. It's okay that McGaha can't really act, though, because Scott is such a dork, a better actor might have given him unnecessary depth. "I can do anything. In or out of a race car!" he proclaims to anyone who will listen. He also has the oddest part in his hair ever captured on film.

Then there's Vanessa Hamilton (Peggy O'Hara), competing team owner and vamp. "Tonight you dream about me making you a great race driver. Sweet dreams, Scott". And he does, in a wacky little sequence! But it'll just be a dream unless he can get his father and Lorenzen in Vanessa's stable. She drives a hard bargain, but Scott's sure he can do it, even though Dad tells him "you'll have a cold engine in hell before that happens...You don't work for Vanessa; she owns you, lock stock and four barrels!" Ah, but then things really get interesting. There's Pinky Bentley, Vanessa's mob hook up, who wants in on the action. He's kind of a Bond baddie, complete with considerable girth and sunglasses, who hosts an "international collection of playthings" and lures Scott into his web, hoping to snare Flip and Fred for Vanessa's team. Lots of gratuitous pool lounging and some really bad dancing -- McGaha again -- ensues. Still, there's something almost likeable about Scott, who doesn't care where the chicks or the chance to drive come from – he'll take what comes his way and probably muck it up.

Speed Lovers offers some great scenes in Atlanta's long-gone Brave Falcon club, featuring a couple of rare live-on-film performances (including title song) by Billy Lee Riley and crew. And there's plenty of great vintage racing footage from Atlanta Motor Speedway.

In the end, Scott may be a "punk kid", but he can rise to the occasion. Without giving away the warm-fuzzy finale to this little picture, let's just say that the only thing that gets burned is a whole lotta rubber. For beehives, sports jackets and a great go-go vibe, Speed Lovers is a winner.

From the noir side of speedsploitation we've got Thunder in Dixie (1964). This one's in black and white and is a little hipper, a little slicker and a lot darker, with a jazzy soundtrack and some great opening credits. Stock car racer Ticker Welch (Mike Bradford) blames his (ex) best friend Mickey Arnold (Harry Millard) for killing his fiancé in a drunken car accident. Now they must meet in the "Dixie 400", and it's a grudge match! There's plenty of angst on and off the track, but the acting is pretty darn good at times. There's even a Shakespeare quote! We've got Lily Arnold (Judy Lewis) who assumes, foolishly, that her husband would quit racing after his three-month hospital stay for the crash that killed Ticker's girl. Then there's Nancy (Karen Hallet), who's got a chip on her shoulder for the sport that killed her man and a hankering in her pants for Ticker. And Mickey, who admits his "brain is the size of a pea," but is not a bad guy, really.

It's back to the (then) Atlanta International Raceway for plenty of great racing footage. Other locations include a joint called the Rustic Cabin, featured in several memorable scenes. Located in Colmar Manor, Maryland, it was part of a collection of roadhouses and bars that made up what was once known as the "notorious Bladensburg strip." You might notice Berk Motley's name on the stage podium as Barry Darvel (misspelled Darval in the credits) croons "Maybe Tomorrow". Motley was a character himself, having appeared in "Ripley's Believe It or Not" in 1942, for playing three clarinets at once while standing on his head. He bought the Rustic Cabin in the late '40s, eventually renaming it Berk Motley's Sirloin Room.

Philly songwriter Bix Reichner (who titled the song "Papa Loves Mambo") wrote the lyrics for most of Thunder in Dixie's soundtrack songs, including the closing credit tune "The Big Crash".

All in all, there's some cheating, some fighting, some stripping and some racing. What more could you want? Thunder in Dixie is a solid little movie and, paired with Speed Lovers, would make for the most amazing drive-in double-header ever.

Shorts include lots of great trailers, a vintage PSA and the racy "Hot Rod Girls" – an awkward little striptease necessitated by an overheated radiator. Don't miss these two rare mini-classics and the juicy extras on this hotrod extravaganza.

For more information about Speed Lovers/Thunder in Dixie, visit Image Entertainment. To order Speed Lovers/Thunder in Dixie (it is part of the Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 2), go to TCM Shopping.

by Emily Soares
Speed Lovers/thunder In Dixie - Speed Lovers & Thunder In Dixie - A Hot Rod Double Feature For Drag Race Fans On Dvd

Speed Lovers/Thunder in Dixie - SPEED LOVERS & THUNDER IN DIXIE - A Hot Rod Double Feature for Drag Race Fans on DVD

Something Weird Video scores big with two Southern hotrod flicks packaged with lots of great shorts. Speed Lovers (1968), featuring a Billy Lee Riley title song that's worth the price of admission, is a low-budget slice of racing heaven, "Filmed in "Speedcolor!" Callow youth Scott Clayton wants out on the track, even though he's never raced before. You gotta give it to the kid for nerve. Neither his father, "Flip", head mechanic to Fred Lorenzen, nor real-life racer Lorenzen, playing himself, want to give this kid a break, and you can't blame them. Played by the film's director, William F. McGaha (who also produces and co-writes), Scott is an obnoxious guy. It's okay that McGaha can't really act, though, because Scott is such a dork, a better actor might have given him unnecessary depth. "I can do anything. In or out of a race car!" he proclaims to anyone who will listen. He also has the oddest part in his hair ever captured on film. Then there's Vanessa Hamilton (Peggy O'Hara), competing team owner and vamp. "Tonight you dream about me making you a great race driver. Sweet dreams, Scott". And he does, in a wacky little sequence! But it'll just be a dream unless he can get his father and Lorenzen in Vanessa's stable. She drives a hard bargain, but Scott's sure he can do it, even though Dad tells him "you'll have a cold engine in hell before that happens...You don't work for Vanessa; she owns you, lock stock and four barrels!" Ah, but then things really get interesting. There's Pinky Bentley, Vanessa's mob hook up, who wants in on the action. He's kind of a Bond baddie, complete with considerable girth and sunglasses, who hosts an "international collection of playthings" and lures Scott into his web, hoping to snare Flip and Fred for Vanessa's team. Lots of gratuitous pool lounging and some really bad dancing -- McGaha again -- ensues. Still, there's something almost likeable about Scott, who doesn't care where the chicks or the chance to drive come from – he'll take what comes his way and probably muck it up. Speed Lovers offers some great scenes in Atlanta's long-gone Brave Falcon club, featuring a couple of rare live-on-film performances (including title song) by Billy Lee Riley and crew. And there's plenty of great vintage racing footage from Atlanta Motor Speedway. In the end, Scott may be a "punk kid", but he can rise to the occasion. Without giving away the warm-fuzzy finale to this little picture, let's just say that the only thing that gets burned is a whole lotta rubber. For beehives, sports jackets and a great go-go vibe, Speed Lovers is a winner. From the noir side of speedsploitation we've got Thunder in Dixie (1964). This one's in black and white and is a little hipper, a little slicker and a lot darker, with a jazzy soundtrack and some great opening credits. Stock car racer Ticker Welch (Mike Bradford) blames his (ex) best friend Mickey Arnold (Harry Millard) for killing his fiancé in a drunken car accident. Now they must meet in the "Dixie 400", and it's a grudge match! There's plenty of angst on and off the track, but the acting is pretty darn good at times. There's even a Shakespeare quote! We've got Lily Arnold (Judy Lewis) who assumes, foolishly, that her husband would quit racing after his three-month hospital stay for the crash that killed Ticker's girl. Then there's Nancy (Karen Hallet), who's got a chip on her shoulder for the sport that killed her man and a hankering in her pants for Ticker. And Mickey, who admits his "brain is the size of a pea," but is not a bad guy, really. It's back to the (then) Atlanta International Raceway for plenty of great racing footage. Other locations include a joint called the Rustic Cabin, featured in several memorable scenes. Located in Colmar Manor, Maryland, it was part of a collection of roadhouses and bars that made up what was once known as the "notorious Bladensburg strip." You might notice Berk Motley's name on the stage podium as Barry Darvel (misspelled Darval in the credits) croons "Maybe Tomorrow". Motley was a character himself, having appeared in "Ripley's Believe It or Not" in 1942, for playing three clarinets at once while standing on his head. He bought the Rustic Cabin in the late '40s, eventually renaming it Berk Motley's Sirloin Room. Philly songwriter Bix Reichner (who titled the song "Papa Loves Mambo") wrote the lyrics for most of Thunder in Dixie's soundtrack songs, including the closing credit tune "The Big Crash". All in all, there's some cheating, some fighting, some stripping and some racing. What more could you want? Thunder in Dixie is a solid little movie and, paired with Speed Lovers, would make for the most amazing drive-in double-header ever. Shorts include lots of great trailers, a vintage PSA and the racy "Hot Rod Girls" – an awkward little striptease necessitated by an overheated radiator. Don't miss these two rare mini-classics and the juicy extras on this hotrod extravaganza. For more information about Speed Lovers/Thunder in Dixie, visit Image Entertainment. To order Speed Lovers/Thunder in Dixie (it is part of the Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 2), go to TCM Shopping. by Emily Soares

Quotes

Why do I drive? It's the only thing I have to live for, thats why.
- Mickey Arnold
You...
- Mickey Arnold
I what, Mickey?
- 'Ticker' Welsh
You stole my gal.
- Mickey Arnold
She was there for the stealing.
- 'Ticker' Welsh
You married?
- Rachel
Yeah, to the road.
- Mickey Arnold
Ohhh, that's gonna leave a mark!
- Bob Willis
Has anybody seen my uterus?
- Link Duggan

Trivia

Originally, Bob Wills' comments were taken from old recordings he had made. After his lawyers threatened suit, the producers hired him and persuaded George Baxt to write him several scenes.

Richard Kuss improvised many of his lines.

Notes

Racing scenes filmed at the Atlanta International Raceway. Prerelease title: Thundering Wheels.