After weeks of Fast & Furious films, we’re passing the baton back to our friends at B&S About Movies for a real review of a proper racing movie. This time, R.D. Francis reviews 1968’s The Wild Racers directed by Daniel Haller and B-movie maestro, Roger Corman. The movie was released as Killico in Italy, the unfortunate nickname of protagonist Jo Jo Quillico.
The Wild Racers (1968)
June 8, 2020 by R.D Francis
Fabian is Jo Jo Quillico, an American stock car racer who’s career is on the skids (sorry) after causing a fatal accident. So he flees to Europe. There, Jo Jo is hired by a racing tycoon to be “take a dive” driver, so as to make the team’s more experienced driver look good. But Jo Jo’s ambitions get the best of him and he proves he’s a better driver that the guy he’s hired to take dives for. Then, as Sam, B&S Movies’ editor-in-chief would say: “romance ensues amid the asphalt and rubber.”
Joe Dante and Quentin Tarantino have said The Wild Racers is an avant-garde, Antonioni-esque art film with little dialog, lots of voice overs, and a quick series of shots that last no more than twenty seconds. Truth be told, for an A.I.P. flick, this Fabian-starrer is a well-shot film (the best of his three Corman race romps), considering it was shot guerilla-style without permits (thus Corman and Heller stole their own film-stock racing footage, which lends to its arty, documentary vibe). In the end, these fast and furious proceedings hold their own against the bigger studio race car flicks helmed by James Caan (Red Line 7000), James Garner (Grand Prix; 1966), Steve McQueen (1971; Le Mans), and Paul Newman (Winning; 1970). And it’s a hell of lot better than those process-shot stinkers Viva Las Vegas (1964), Spinout (1966), and Speedway (1968) starring Elvis as a singing race car driver.
If Fabian had been given an actual shot to be in an Michelangelo Antonioni film: Could you see Fabian in Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (1970) or The Passenger (1975)? I can. It’s like the studios used Fabian like a pug actor — to take dives — to make other actors look good.
And he did makes other actors look good because Fabian was a damn good actor himself.
Make sure to check out B&S About Movies for real reviews of racing reels.