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Fireball 500

1966

NR CC

Melodrama about stock car racing has driver Frankie Avalon getting mixed up with moonshiners when he pauses in a southern town to do some racing. Fabian is the local playboy who provides competition for Avalon on and off the track while Annette Funicello is the love interest.

Starring:
Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello
Runtime:
1 hour, 32 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Sports, Drama, Action, Comedy
Director William Asher
Starring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello
Supporting actors Fabian, Chill Wills, Harvey Lembeck, Julie Parrish, Douglas Henderson, Baynes Barron, Sandy Reed, Mary Hughes, Salli Sachse, Patti Chandler, Jo Collins, Karla Conway, Maria McBane, Hedy Scott, Linda Bent, Len Lesser, Luree Holmes, Renie Riano
Studio MGM
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By joseph Corey on June 29, 2005
Format: DVD
"Fireball 500/ Thunder Alley." These two movies represent the final two features that Annette Funicello made for the legendary indie American International Pictures. But instead of ending her career kicking around the sand, she found herself covered in dust from NASCAR tracks.

"Fireball 500" can be considered the last of the Beach Party films since it was directed by William Asher and features Frankie Avalon, Annette and Harvey Lembeck except they aren't close to their normal surf and sand creations. Lembeck is no longer nutty biker Erik Von Zipper. He's a Southern bootlegger who also deals in racing. Frankie plays a racecar driver working his way down to Daytona. These are the early days of NASCAR before sponsors made life so much easier for the drivers. So instead of getting cash from Budweiser like Dale Jr., Frankie scores extra bucks by hauling moonshine for Lembeck.

There is a different tone between these films and it's not merely going from sand to asphalt. You can feel the dividing line between "Fireball 500" and "How to Stuff A Wild Bikini" during a fight between Frankie and Harvey. Instead of the slapstick mayhem of those early films, "Fireball 500" shows these two men are out to hurt each other. They're not aiming at the funnybone. No longer is Lembeck frozen by a touch of the finger. Now there is blood on their lips. Annette doesn't have too much of a role. This racing movie is not her vehicle.

The same can be said about "Thunder Alley." Fabian (Frankie's racing rival in Fireball 500) plays a racer who has a pesky blackout problem as he circles the hardtop. So he tries to make a comeback by being part of a stunt show that features Annette.
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Format: DVD
This review is only about "Fireball 500" (1966), technically the best production to ever come out of "American International". The cinematography looks as good as the best Hollywood productions from that period; with unexpectedly good shot selection and nice close-ups that you would expect to see now but were highly original back in 1966.

This is a film that should be shown to would-be film and video editors, as there are few finer examples of matching stock footage with first and second unit output; all done by linear editing (try it some time if you want a real challenge). When a low budget film tries to be high budget by inserting stock footage it is usually a disaster, but here there is a pretty good match of film stock and the track announcer's audio makes the action sequences easy to follow. You might recognize Fred R. Feitshans Jr's editing style from the old "Adventures in Paradise" television show.

The story is ordinary-straight action adventure and romance, no comedy like AIP's beach movies even though it does feature alumni Frankie, Annette, and Harvey Lembeck. There are three good Hernrig and Styner songs: "Fireball 500", "My Way", and "Turn Around"; sung by Frankie with help on the last one from Julie Parrish. Annette sings "Step Right Up" which mostly leaves you amazed that anyone ever bought her records.

As usual Annette is very buttoned-up and chaste but Parrish is hot enough to carry the whole film. Interestingly Annette pairs up with Fabian and Frankie gets Julie. Fabian also has a group of racetrack groupies who follow him around, four of the them are mid-60's Playboy centerfolds with one of those the Playmate of the year.

Frankie gets into a serious fight with both Fabian and Lembeck.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While somewhat different from the more innocent Beach Party movies, this is still a treat for Frankie and Annette fans! As a child, I know there are those who can relate to me in the respect of always getting excited when looking at the TV guide (and the more simplistic channels of just CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS!) and seeing the Frankie and Annette movies listed. I never tired of watching the frolicking romp associated with light plot lines and surfer bubble gum 60's pop music with Frankie and Annette planted right in the middle.
I loved Fireball 500 from the first time I saw it. The car racing action and characters, the music, it was just a fun popcorn type movie. But it's been hard to catch since I saw it as a child! Even in the endless stream of tv channels nowdays, I could hardly catch it. So it was to my delight when I typed in Fireball 500 in the [...] browser and wow! There it was.
Ok, so Frankie and Annette do not wind up together at the end and some hardcore fans will never accept that. And yes, Frankie drinks and does some serious fist fighting. It's still Frankie! Still, while it's not any movie of Oscar calibur, it's still a treat. And the vivid, detailed new anamorphic widescreen transfer is awesome!
Thunder Alley I think I had seen once when I was younger, but it was a treat to have it added to make a double feature. I especially liked the snazzy guitar laden, go-go dancing frosted title tune. And as an avid fan of vintage stock car racing, this movie was a treat. Plenty of spills and crashes and great racing abound here. And it was fun to see Annette play a feisty stunt car driver!
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