tek's rating: meh

Fireball 500 (unrated)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; YouTube

This came out in 1966, and I first saw it in 2023. The only reason I watched it is because it was included in a box set of movies starring Frankie Avalon and/or Annette Funicello. And the only reason I own that is for the Beach Party movies. (Unfortunately it doesn't include all of them, but it does have a few non-Beach movies, like this.) The best I can say about this movie is that it's not terrible. But it's also not good enough for me to put my review anywhere other than the "meh" section.

Avalon plays a stock car racer named Dave Owens, who wins a race in California, then goes to South Carolina for more races. He beats the reigning local champ, Sonny Leander Fox (Fabian), driving a car owned by Charlie Bigg (Harvey Lembeck, who I know from the Beach movies). Charlie works for a wealthy widow named Martha Brian, who takes an interest in Dave. Meanwhile, Dave takes an interest in a woman named Jane Harris (Funicello), but nothing ever comes of that. I'm not sure if Jane was already dating Leander, but she was by later in the movie. And Dave does eventually hook up with Martha. He also engages in an unofficial race one night, and at the end of it learns he was actually running illegal moonshine. (I don't really understand why the moonshine was illegal, since this is obviously after prohibition ended, but whatever.) He wants no part of that business, but then a couple of feds (from the IRS) blackmail him into helping them. And eventually another moonshine runner gets run off the road and killed. That's when Dave finally starts taking things seriously, and suspects Leander of murder.

And that's all I want to say about the plot. None of it makes a lot of sense to me, and I couldn't manage to care too much about it, anyway. Oh yeah, I should mention that "Fireball 500" is the name of the race car Dave brought with him from California, but he barely uses it throughout the movie.

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