Action, Comedy | 95 mins | Released: 1980
Director: Frank Q Dobbs
Starring: Bruce Paul Barbour, Penny Bennett, David Cass Sr, George Kennedy, John Martin, Strother Martin, Lou McCreary
Our Rating: 6

Hotwire tells the story of a drunk and a drifter who are blackmailed into repossessing a Rolls-Royce from a local gangster – and all hell breaks loose.

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Movie Notes:

Reviews of Hotwire:
“Some films are just bad. Some films are so bad, they’re fun to watch. This one (Hotwire) is fun to watch. I knew it would be “good” when the box cover promised “George Kennedy in a dual role!”
He can’t play one role well but two? You bet!”- 451 Films review.

“Strother Martin, that late, great grizzled ol’ fuddy dud character actor supreme, has himself a field day in this giddy, rambunctious, footloose and fancy-free downhome drive-in comedy about the colorfully seedy shady and unscrupulous subculture of automobile repossession. It’s a sort of Southern-fried “Repo Man” set in the Texas sticks.
Strother delivers a splendidly rascally performance as cagey, boozy, lecherous venerable carjacker George “the Weasel” Thorney, who teaches eager, cocksure young buck car thief Billy Ed Wallace (John Terry, who also portrayed the phenomenally drippy and underwhelming bargain basement Robin Hood-like protagonist in the lovably chintzy sword and sorcery clinker “Hawk the Slayer” around the same time) the ropes.
Billy Ed gets neck deep in trouble when he falls head over heels in love with a sweet young gal (the fetching Jean Sanders) who belongs to mean, grasping local pimp Bodine (leering chrome dome Lawrence Dobkin), trouble that’s compounded when Billy and the Weasel steal Bodine’s beloved Roll’s Royce.
A stock plot for sure, but the breezy tone, Frank Q. Dobbs’ brisk direction, a snappy pace, the jubilant country and western score, peppery dialogue (“I stopped buying cars when they stopped making rear ends that pretty”), a neat cameo by Jim Siedow (the Cook in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) as a cantankerous shotgun-toting yokel, some tasty regional flavoring, and lively turns by George Kennedy in a duel role as a prissy, effeminate car dealer and his brutish, corrupt police chief brother keep “Hotwire” darting along at a nice, steady clip. Strother Martin’s hearty, ebullient acting in particular is an absolute hoot — and so’s the whole movie in general.
- Woodyanders review of Hotwire

“That’s right Poor George Kennedy (the Oscar-winning actor from “Cool Hand Luke“) how did your film choices become so poor? All right–Maybe that’s a real harsh statement but a movie like this–C’mon! This was another Paragon “Gem” yeah from the same video company who brought you such classics on tape as “Molly and Lawless John” (and by the way according to the preview-“It has it all”-and if that’s true I’d hate to see anything with less than “all”–wait! I already did…this piece of junk)and “Psycho from Texas” which I am still trying to understand…There are very few bright spots for me to talk about…if there are any I already mentioned his name…and I am one who really enjoyed “One Armed Executioner”…this movie was written bad and for the most part acted like a high school play..The sound editing was awful (even for low budget) and if they played that “Hotwire” song (the song that plays over the opening title credits)on the radio, let’s say…uuummm.. ever…some DJ would lose his job… I can say as a fact that this movie was the worst of 1980 and if I had to go further than that I would say it’s more than likely the worst in the past 21 years (and I’ve seen “The Cell”). There was nothing special about the plot in my mind and truthfully while watching it I wondered if the actors in the movie really cared about the parts or I wonder if any of them (besides George Kennedy–who I hope did this movie as a favor or as an easy last film of a contract–or Strother Martin) read the script. To be honest I don’t like Nick Cage but I would suggest “Gone in 60 seconds” (Which is not much more but will do wonders if you have seen this one) if you were looking for a good car type film in a heartbeat over this worthless nothing of a movie, at least the cars in that movie were fun to look at which is more than I can say for this movie in general. It’s this type of movie that kept low budget movies in the dark for so many years…on this occasion–thankfully so. - brando5092 review of Hotwire

Watch George Kennedy in Charade