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The Devil on Wheels (1947)

Approved | | Drama, Sport | 15 February 1947 (USA)
American-International did not invent the juvenile delinquents-jalopies-reckless driving-hot rodders-build it at home-chicken playing genre of movies. PRC and Monogram started churning them... See full summary »


Crane Wilbur


Tony Sargent (idea), Crane Wilbur (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Noreen Nash ... Sue Tanner
Darryl Hickman ... Michael 'Micky' Clark
Terry Moore ... Rusty Davis (as Jan Ford)
Lenita Lane ... Mrs. Clark
James Cardwell ... Jeff Clark
Damian O'Flynn ... John Clark
William Forrest ... Judge Roger Tanner
Sue England ... Peggy Andrews
Robert Arthur ... Todd Powell
Ann Burr Ann Burr ... Judy Clark


American-International did not invent the juvenile delinquents-jalopies-reckless driving-hot rodders-build it at home-chicken playing genre of movies. PRC and Monogram started churning them out in the mid-forties as part of their let-this-be-a-lesson-to-you genre, preceded by the zoot-suiter and jitter-buggers films, which was better than the social guidance films teen-agers were being overdosed on at school. PRC did at least use card-carrying members of SAG. This one is a sermon against speeding, and Darryl Hickman has it brought straight home to him when he side-swipes a car and causes a collision in which his best friend is killed---the fate of all best friends in juvenile-theme movies including "Rebel Without a Cause"--- and his mother is injured. Lots of lecturing precedes and follows. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When He Took the Wheel ... Slammed Down on the Throttle ... And Started Burning Rubber ... He Was Dynamite!


Drama | Sport


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

15 February 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Irresponsables See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Film historians have noted this film as the first to present its female leads in bikini tops. See more »


Featured in Tales of the Rat Fink (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Like father, like son.
7 January 2020 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"The Devil on Wheels" is one of those exploitation films that seeks to warn folks about the dangers of hot rodding. And, since it was made by tiny PRC, you just know it's going to be ridiculous...but at least the teens in the film are actual teens...something very unusual for exploitation pictures. Usually the 'teens' are in their mid-20s or older.

When the story begins, you see that young Micky Clark (Daryl Hickman) has built a hot rod. But he swears to his parents that he won't do any illegal street racing. However, at the same time, while Micky's father insists that the boy use common sense and keep safety first, Dad is a maniac behind the wheel. In fact, he drives WORSE than a crackhead...but he always blames others for his aggressive driving. Because of this, you know it's inevitable that Micky and his hot rodding friends are destined for infamy.

PRC was known for making terrible low budget films during this era...so my expectations for "The Devil on Wheels" were very low. In fact, I expected it to be crappy and cheap....and in this sense it doesn't disappoint! Dad's driving is so ridiculous and overdone that you almost laugh at his antics. Bizarrely, after he nearly kills a judge and his family while speeding and reckless driving, he's not even jailed nor fined....and learns absolutely nothing! Was the law this lax back in 1947? I have no idea, though I surely doubt the man would have avoided jail time...it was THAT bad. The drivers in the film were WORSE and more over the top than if they'd used blind drivers....on amphetamines!!! Apparently they felt the way to get the point across was by belting the audience over the head with a sledgehammer, so to speak. Subtlety was certainly NOT a major concern by these filmmakers!

So, despite the lack of subtlety, is it worth seeing? No...unless you like bad films. The worst part is the courtroom scene at the end...it's utterly ridiculous and even laughable. Overall, a cheap and silly film mostly because it could have been a decent story BUT was handled in such a ham-fisted manner that it comes off as preachy and ridiculous.

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