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JOHN BROMFIELD SELLS 'HOT CARS' FOR BEL-AIR PRODUCTIONS

Joi Lansing & Carol Shannon YEAR: 1956
A hybrid of lounge lizard and game show jazz plays during the opening where a quiet Los Angeles main street's lined with outlet stores across from a used car lot, and John Bromfield's Nick Dunn is so honest, he ironically passed the acid test for crooks: That is, the main (though polite and unassuming) heavy, rolling stolen vehicles through his own larger lot, sees that Nick is the man to trust...

Joi Lansing as Karen Winter
Not trusted to be dishonest but to remain faithful and, like any Film Noir outing, it takes something desperate and personal for a good man to cross the line...

In this case, his child needing surgery causes Nick do what Joi Lansing and her incredible body couldn't initially persuade. And by the time our husband/dad's up to his neck in HOT CARS, delivered to the illegal, seemingly untouchable operation where Nick is stuck as middleman, he's the sole target of a determined police investigator, with no way out... Or is there? And does freedom have a price? And who's gonna pay?

The best scenes occur before he gets hounded and right after he's on board the seemingly perfect, well-paying gig as the fitfully cool, underrated movie and TV actor John Bromfield, with all the ingredients of a casual b-actor, nails the put-upon working man persona, with class to boot: A nice fit for caustic, melodramatic lines like: "That's the problem with dopes like us," to his incredibly-trusting wife, without sounding corny, or cliché: "Too much month at the end of our money."

Bel Air Productions Presents HOT CARS Rates: ****1/2
In cult movie retrospect, Bromfield played the flirtatious scuba diver (targeting pretty Lori Nelson who prefers humble John Agar) in REVENGE OF THE CREATURE. Though he wasn't able to "reign in heaven" as a leading man in mainstream features, he's a sublime b-leading man and does a particularly fine job here, looking handsome and boxy-muscular under well-suited work clothes...

Set in the cut-and-dry mid-1950's, the vacant, bare-boned, industrial locations, shot in fitfully sparse B&W, lends to the overall purgatory aesthetic as our sexy, full-breasted, manipulative "femme fatale" in Joi Lansing lights up every room. Meanwhile, her boss, Ralph Clayton as Mr. Markel... with Mark Dana's tall, square-jawed and very lethal Smiley Ward at his beckon call... make for a solid if subtle, professionally villainous trio...

John Bromfield as Nick Dunn in Hot Cars
Within Bel-Air Productions' Film Noir template, using more plot-points and character motivations than cinematography and lighting, instead of being an otherwise kindhearted anti-hero, Nick's a solid clean slate, working for the wrong side while that extremely pestering cop (Dabbs Greer) is the main "antagonist" albeit in protagonist's clothes: most of the second act suspense occurs between these two proverbial "good guys," one masked with an effective, royal flush poker face...

And after a slight twist, there's an intense HOUSE OF BAMBOO style action climax with Nick and an armed Smiley battling-it-out on a fast-moving, rickety rollercoaster (in Ocean Park Pier, Santa Monica). Meanwhile, an 11th hour stampede of cops move in on "poor little me" Joi Lansing and her gentleman boss, who can't flirt or pay their way out of how these kind of movies all wind down and end up: Learning that harsh, inevitable lesson that crime doesn't pay... at least, not for very long.
Jacks at the Beach, Santa Monica, Southern California inside and out
Mark Dana and John Bromfield in HOT CARS
John Bromfield w/ his first boss played by Robert Osterloh: Cagney's partner in WHITE HEAT
John Bromfield and Joi Lansing in HOT CARS
John Bromfield and some HOT CARS in HOT CARS
John Bromfield and Joi Lansing in HOT CARS
Classy head villain Ralph Clanton with employee Nick Dunn (John Bromfield) HOT CARS
Joi's the bad girl and Carol Shannon is the good girl aka John Bromfield's perfect wife
Gunsmoke and Little House actor Dabbs Greer plays cop to John Bromfield HOT CARS
B-Movie actor John Bromfield winds up with C-movie actor Mark Dana as Smiley Ward
Pay to play Joi Lansing lays in bed and dreams of fur coats in HOT CARS
Bel-Air Productions includes producer Howard W. Koch
Marilee Earle's big scene was cut but here she is for a second in HOT CARS
Marilee Earle in HOT CARS in an establishing shot that was never completed
And here's a shot of Marilee Earle in her co-starring role in THE FEARMAKERS w/ Dana Andrews
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