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White Lightning: A Lost Hockey Movie From the 50’s

I love hockey movies. There’s no such thing as a bad one in my mind because I will find something funny in it. Either in the plot, the dialogue or the actors who try and play the game.

“White Lightning” came out in 1953. The lead was Stanley Clements who plays a guy named Mike Connors, the star player of the Red Devils. You see him on the poster. He’s the face of this 61-minute movie. Clements was born on Long Island, so chances are he’d probably seen a hockey game or two before this movie. He was a comedian and his real name was Stanislaw Kilmowicz. Now that’s a hockey name. At 5-7 he was about the height of a lot of players in that era. As a kid he was in a movie with Bing Crosby.

Some of the actors listed as hockey players did play in the NHL and professional hockey. Here’s a few of them:

John Polich – He played in three games with the Rangers in 1939-40, and 1940-41. He got his point in 40-41. I doubt he got a share of the Stanley Cup money from 1940 or his name on the Cup.

Gus Mancuso – He played in 42 NHL games. 21 for the Habs and 21 for the Rangers. He had 7 goals and 16 points. His last NHL season was in 1943.

Johnny Ubriaco – He never made it higher than the IHL. He played for the Louisville Rebels in 1957-58. Chick Chalmers was on that team. He played one game for the New York Rangers during the 1953-54 season.

Ray Chiasson – He’s in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. He played in the Pacific Coast League and the Eastern League.

A young Lee Van Cleef was in this movie. He played a guy named “Brutus Allen”. Sounds like he was an enforcer or a mobster. He was famous for acting in Spaghetti Westerns like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. He was in “Escape from New York” later in his career.

Yes, once again this movie plot dealt with a player taking a bribe. I have to laugh. Hollywood rarely made a hockey movie but each time they did they added that gambling/mob element. Not very original stuff. 

The director, Edward Bernds worked on the first few “Three Stooges” shorts. He also directed the “Bowery Boys” and Clements did some acting in that as well.

This movie is in the TCM database. I want to see it! If I do I will add a review.

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