On this page I would like to display a collection reviews written about

The Fastest Guitar Alive.

I've already found some on the internet, an original one from 1968, and
one about the video release from 2000. What I would like to do is make
this page a kind of forum where everyone can post a fair review about
this movie, wether it's positive or negative.

If you would like your personal review posted, please send it to

- albert.ballast@home.nl -



New York Times, 15 februari 1968

Screen: Films to Munch Popcorn By:
Local Houses Showing 'Fastest Guitar Alive'

By Renata Adler, Howard Thompson.

"THE FASTEST GUITAR ALIVE" is an old-fashioned, good-natured bad movie
to be seen at exam time, or at a drive-in, or when you just feel like seeing a movie
you won't have to discuss afterward. It is about a theft, and spies for the
Confederate Army, and Indians, and romance; but the worst that happens to
anybody in it is to be bound and gagged, and the love scenes are short,
decorous and gallant.

Roy Orbison, a pop singer who sounds a lot like Elvis Presley and who has had
some hit records ("It's Over") of his own, stars in his first movie. He has a nice,
rather unlikely face - something midway between Presley and Liberace, which
comes out friendly, goofy and square. His presence is not very forceful, but the
movie does not require him to act much, and what singing he does is cooled-down
Presley, not as great as the original, but better than most Country and Western.

The movie opened yesterday at neighborhood theaters, including Loew's at 125th
Street and Seventh Avenue, which - being large, handsome, old-fashioned and
serving popcorn, ice cream and candy-is as good a place as any to see it.

THE FASTEST GUITAR ALIVE, screenplay by Robert E. Kent; directed by Michael
Moore and produced by Sam Katzman; a Four Leaf Production presented by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At neighborhood theaters. Running time: 85 minutes.

Johnny . . . . . Roy Orbison
Stave . . . . . Sammy Jackson
Flo . . . . . Maggle Pierce
Sue . . . . . Joan Freeman
Charlie . . . . . Lyle Bettger



www.stomptokyo.com, 17 september 2000


First, I want you to imagine a movie - a film version of The Wild Wild West starring
rock legend Roy Orbison.

I'm sorry, I've just asked you to imagine a more interesting movie than The Fastest
Guitar Alive. I'll try to do better next time.

At the time of this movie's release, Orbison's fellow Sun Studios crooner Elvis Presley
had been making profitable movies for nearly a decade, so it seems somewhat logical
that Mr. Sunglasses would get tapped for a movie career at the height of his fame,
driven by songs like "Pretty Woman" and "Only the Lonely". So why does this movie's
very existence come as a surprise to so many people? Let's find out:

First things should be addressed first (logic dictates): a movie featuring a rock star attempting to become a movie star is going to depend a great deal on the performance
of its drawing card: said rock star. And as an actor, Orbison was a fine musician.
He seems uncomfortable with the entire concept, at ease only when he has a guitar
in his hands and singing. Every line is delivered in the same tone, at the same pace,
in a reading-off-the-cue-cards way; the few times they give Orbison a laugh line will
make you wince. The one time he's guitarless and taking part in a dance number,
he appears to be concentrating mightily. He glances at the camera at least once.

God bless him, the boy gives it the old college try, but Orbison simply wasn't meant
for the big screen. The seven songs he contributed for the project are all quite good,
though, and the movie becomes infinitely more tolerable when he is left to his strong
suits: his music and distinctive voice. The whole flick might have been more successful
had he been relegated to a more minor role, stepping to the fore when it was time to
sing. Like Elvis' relatively minor outing in his debut, Love Me Tender, this would have
given Orbison more time to learn the ropes, and there might been a second movie.
Or maybe not. Cruel as it is for me to say this, there was a reason Orbison wore those sunglasses all those years. Beady, close-set eyes too small for his face really kind of dooms him as a romantic lead.

Past Orbison, the actors are a likable if undistinguished lot. It's interesting to track the connected filmographies in the Internet Movie Database. The lovely Joan Freeman went
on to a fairly nice career, even directed a couple of films, up until her sad death by
suicide earlier this year. Victoria Carroll, besides Nightmare in Wax, has some great
voice acting credits of late, and of course we all recognize Poupee Gamin from
'Journey to the center of time'.

Script wise, The Fastest Guitar Alive peters out after the gold heist, but up to that
point (the Neo-Impressionist Tribe notwithstanding), it's fairly good; I appreciate the
fact that the plot isn't spelled out at the first, but we are allowed to learn about it as it progresses. This served to involve me in the movie, when chances are my survival
instincts would have caused me to reach for the remote control after the first piece of Komedy!!! Though it must be admitted, when I start yearning for the return of the Neo-Impressionists, something is way wrong.

Even through all this, probably the major reason this movie failed was disastrous timing.
The Fastest Guitar Alive takes place in an impossibly clean and well-lit West, much
like another family-friendly romantic comedy-Western that year, The Ballad of Josie
(starring Doris Day, 'nuff said). But another Western would serve to eclipse such
outings: Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars hit American screens, and a sea change
began to sweep over the American Western, eventually making way for bitter revisionist outings like The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid and Doc. The movie also came out
just in time for the Summer of Love, and Orbison's rockabilly-tinged music was no
match for the music America's Youth now craved, the acid-tinged music of The Doors,
The Beatles, Jimi, Janis, you know, all those guys with 'J' names. Orbison's career
would fade until the 80's, when David Lynch's cheerfully perverse Blue Velvet would
bring him back to the forefront.

Bad timing, bad acting, bad Komedy!!!! Good Roy Orbison songs! What more could
you ask? I hereby dub this a new party tape for the coming millennium, and immediately - and somewhat suspiciously - wash my hands of the whole thing.

Dr. Freex

(This review is part of a larger article. The part with the summary of the movie is used for
my 'story-page'. The review part is used here. Click here for the complete article)