Mill Creek Musings: Rock Rock Rock! (1956)

This film was viewed for TMP's Mill Creek Musings series. It appears in the '50 Classic Musicals' boxed set.
This film was viewed for TMP’s Mill Creek Musings series. It appears in the ’50 Classic Musicals’ boxed set.

Dori (Tuesday Weld) is a teenage girl who, like just about any teenage girl of the 1950s, likes to spend her whole allowance to play Elvis songs on the jukebox or go to the movies. When she’s not  using up that money, she likes to go shopping for clothes and charge them to her father’s account.

But when her father catches wind of her less-than-smart spending habits, he decides to cut her off so she’ll learn the value of money.

(Image: Wrong Side of the Art)
(Image: Wrong Side of the Art)

But the school dance is only a few weeks away, and she was planning on putting a new dress on dad’s charge for it! How ever will Dori find the money to buy that fancy gown?

Rock Rock Rock! is a 1956 musical film directed by Will Price. The fluffy premise is complimented by tons of rock ‘n’ roll performances from the likes of Chuck Berry, The Moonglows and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Tuesday Weld’s singing is dubbed by Connie Francis.

The music kicks off from the very first second of this film, and it is a fantastic brand of music. Fans of the early rock ‘n’ roll of the mid to late 1950s will instantly fall in love. (I did!)

This isn’t the type of film that you watch for high-quality acting or groundbreaking cinematography, and it’s a good idea not to go in expecting any of that. The story is extremely thin and the performances are possibly some of the least natural I’ve ever seen.

Tuesday Weld is the exception in a few scenes, but this was her first film and she was only 13 years old when it was released, so she doesn’t make a terribly impressive leading lady. She stands out amongst the cast, but her inexperience as an actress shows. Her extremely obvious lip-syncing in the film’s earliest scenes really sets the tone for the quality of the film as a whole.

Luckily, the music is very wonderful and takes up most of the film’s running time. (The rest of the time can be spent laughing at the ultra-corny dialogue and delivery.) The music overtakes the story so much that Rock Rock Rock! sometimes feels like watching a musical variety show rather than a film. Music showcase films are a very special type of production, and if you tend to enjoy the genre you’ll love this one.

There are a few dud musical numbers here (Prime example: The comically bad “We Want Rock ‘n’  Roll” scene – could this guy have any less enthusiasm? It’s hilarious!), but many of the songs are familiar favorites and the film’s musical performances retain their high energy throughout the film.

For all that the story lacks, there are some amusing moments to keep the viewer occupied as well.

Appearing in the ’50 Classic Musicals’ boxed set by Mill Creek Entertainment, the picture quality of Rock Rock Rock! is decent – not great. There’s a bit of fuzziness to it. The audio has an interesting type of muffling that almost makes it sound like it’s coming from a very old, slightly dysfunctional radio, and while it is not high-quality sound, it has a lot of character and adds a sense of nostalgia to the film’s musical numbers.

Rock Rock Rock! is a film to watch if you’re interested in the musical performances, but skip it if you’re looking for a musical with a great plot attached.

(Image: Walter Film)
(Image: Walter Film)
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