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Film / The Devil's Hairpin

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The Devil’s Hairpin is a 1957 film starring Cornel Wilde, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay with James Edmiston. The film also stars Arthur Franz and Mary Astor as well as Paul Fix, Larry Pennell, Gerald Milton, Ross Bagdasarian, Morgan Jones, Jack Kosslyn and Louis Wilde.

Cocky auto racer Nick Jargin (Wilde) has retired from auto racing since he nearly caused the death of his brother Johnny (Pennell) at a hairpin bend on a circuit, and now runs a trendy bar called the “King’s Room” which keeps him busy full time.

One day, sportswriter Mike Houston (Milton) goads Nick into coming out of retirement and challenging new champion Tony Botari (Kosslyn), particularly after egotistically saying in an interview that Botari has no real competition now that he's out of the sport.

Nick decides to returns to competition and this time around he will not only have to beat his new rival but also his own demons, with his brother Johnny, Kelly James (Wallace) along with her pretty lover Danny Rhinegold (Franz), his no-nonsense mother (Astor), and the patrons at the bar by his side.

Tropes appearing in this:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Nick.
  • The Ace: Nick, when it comes to racing.
  • Attention Whore/Small Name, Big Ego: Nick, as summarized by his mother:
    ”He has to be important all the time. He’ll give but it’s like . . . hand-me-down. He won’t share, he doesn’t know how, he wants to be needed by everyone!”
  • Bar Brawl: Nick does this to Tony Botari when he and Botari’s party of four are at Nick’s table when Tony refuses to leave Jargin’s table at a fancy restaurant. Fortunately, Nick’s apprehended alongside Tony immediately after the former lands the first blow to the latter.
  • Brand X: During the beginning credits, there’s a line reading “‘Nick Jargin’s Wardrobe.’”
  • Redhead, Brunette, Blonde: When Nick’s seen having dinner with a nameless woman after Kelly leaves him, in order, each woman has red hair, black hair and then blonde hair.
  • Carnivore Confusion: While eating at Kelly’s apartment, Nick gives Louie the parrot part of his lamb chop to which the bird takes but doesn’t eat it, or at least not on screen.
  • Cool Auto Race Cars
  • Disappeared Dad: Nick's dad is never mentioned.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Nick's mother blames him for a racing accident that seriously injured his brother Johnny, thus having nothing to do with him.
  • Easily Forgiven: Johnny to Nick after being seriously injured by him.
  • Glasses Pull: Ms. Jargin does this couple of times.
  • How We Got Here: Why Nick’s back on the race track at the beginning.
  • Jerkass: Ms. Jargin practically ignores Nick when he visits with Kelly and then tells Kelly to leave him when the guy hasn’t proposed.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: Ms. Jargin does listen to the race Nick’s in on the radio, showing emotion when a race car went through the barrier of said ‘devil’s hairpin’ and into the ravine, believing it could have been her son. It wasn’t. It was Rodriguez.
  • Inner Monologue: Nick at the beginning of the movie, before the race starts.
  • Mustache Vandalism: Not only does Nick’s picture in the newspaper gets this, but it sports a goatee and devil horns.
  • Parental Favoritism: Johnny for Ms. Jargin, as evident by talking about Johnny when Nick and his girlfriend Kelly visited her on her birthday, ignoring Nick.
  • Product Placement: Played with. There’s a place called “King’s Place,” though it isn’t a bar.
  • Sadistic Choice: Though a very mild example but Kelly gives Nick the ultimatum of either marry her or she’s leaving. He declines so Kelly goes back to former boyfriend Danny Rhinegold, who now runs Botari's racing team. She eventually gets back with him at the end.
  • Shout-Out: Nick tells Ritter to “Play it again, I like it,” when asked to perform for the costumer who came into the King’s Room bar, before Nick learns it’s sports columnist Mike Houston.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Kelly does this during her health club class.
  • Title Drop: "The Devil's Hairpin" is a name of a dangerous turn on the racetrack, so it's inevitable.
  • Trademark Favorite Drink: Martini’s for Kelly.
  • The Unfavorite: Nick, see parental favoritism above.
  • Whole Movie Flashback: Why Nick returned to racing at the beginning of the movie.
  • Wolf Whistle:
    • One of the bar patrons does the two-note whistle when we are introduced to the lovely Kelly James.
    • The parrot does this noise when Kelly kisses Nick when he’s at her apartment.
  • Valley Girl: The nameless redhead Nick takes out on a date after Kelly left him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Nick’s redheaded date he takes to a dinner is never seen again. The next time Nick’s on a date in the King’s Room bar, he’s with a black haired woman. Then she disappears and is replaced with a blonde bimbo . . . who also disappears. Interestingly, each woman appears in one small scene.