Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #206: Juvenile Delinquents

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week the theme is juvenile delinquents, or at least movies about juvenile delinquents, not the actual child stars getting into trouble. As is usually the case, I reached well back into the mists of time to come up with this week's selections:

Untamed Youth (1957). Mamie Van Doren and Lori Nelson play sisters who get stopped for vagrancy on their way cross-country to California, so they get thrown in the town's juvenile hall for it. Only, it's not a hall, it's a slush fund for one of the local farmers to get cheap labor for his cotton fields and undercut all the other farmers. One of the girls gets knocked up, and the kids do some musical numbers out in the cotton fields. It sounds like it should be awful, but it's one of those movies that winds up being a whole lot of fun because of how dumb it is.

Teen-Age Crime Wave (1955). Another movie that winds up being fun for its stupidity. Good girl Sue England accidentally winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time with bad girl Molly McCart; both wind up in juvenile detention. Molly's boyfriend Tommy Cook breaks both out of the facility, and the boyfriend and girlfriend eventually hold a farm couple hostage with poor Sue in tow. The highlight of this one is a TV news bulletin showing the three escapees for people to identify. Molly and Tommy are shown in their booking shots, Sue is in a glamour picture in a swimsuit and her hands behind her head!

The Mayor of Hell (1933). The best of this week's lot stars James Cagney as a gangster trying to reform, who as part of that gets named to run a reform school where the likes of Frankie Darro are sent. What Cagney discovers is that the previous management have been treating the kids terribly and skimming money off the top -- and they want to keep Cagney from doing anything about it! It all results in a prison riot and fire. The movie was remade five years later as Crime School, which Humphrey Bogart taking the Cagney role.


Wendell Ottley said...

The only one I'm familiar with is Untamed Youth, but I haven't seen it yet.

joel65913 said...

Untamed Youth!!! What a ridiculous load of fun that piece of trash is. What adds to the hilarity is that both the "girls" who are hauled off are 25 if they're a day!

I thought The Mayor of Hell was mostly a routine programmer but Cagney makes it worth seeing as he always did.

I'll have to go on the hunt for Teen-Age Crime Wave. It sounds right up my alley and good for a chuckle or two.

I went the exploitation route as well in my first three but my last is a more serious look at the subject.

Youth Runs Wild (1944)-While Mom and Dad are busy at the production plants making the tools to win WWII the kids are home and being neglected and the first thing you know “Youth Runs Wild!!!!” Horror meister Val Lewton (Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie) produced, though disavowed this studio reworked version, this mild teen rebellion film where the biggest sins are tire swiping and other minor infractions until a rather violent conclusion. Still somewhat surprising to see this type of film in the 40’s where young people were almost always presented as sweet, compliant angels.

High School Hellcats (1958)-Joyce (Yvonne Lime) is the new girl in school and on her first day she is confronted by Connie (Jana Lund) the leader of the Hellcat gang. Connie tells her she can join the gang or be ostracized and we’re off on a round of shoplifting, kissing parties and murder! Starts off as a mild little cautionary tale but considering there’s a body count it goes on a wilder ride than expected. The kind of film to be found at the local drive-in in the 50’s.

Look in Any Window (1961)-Teen idol Paul Anka plays “The Masked Prowler” a teen Peeping Tom who scales the fences of town residents wearing a frightening mask while his parents and their neighbors drink and carouse amongst themselves ignoring their children. Sensationalist with mostly over the top performances (though Ruth Roman is good as Anka’s mother) but Anka’s compulsion to voyeurism feels disturbingly prescient of an incipient serial killer or rapist.

The Young Stranger (1957)-Rebellious well to do teenager Hal (James MacArthur), a decent boy at heart, is arrested for punching a theatre manager at a movie theater which he truthfully claims was self-defense. The problems begin when Hal’s father (James Daly), an inattentive parent at best, doesn’t believe him leading to an even further estrangement and Hal acting out. Tom’s mother (Kim Hunter) tries to forge some sort of understanding between them before their hostility leads to worse issues. John Frankenheimer’s (The Manchurian Candidate) first theatrical film is an even handed account of the isolation and antipathy that often leads to juvenile delinquency.

Birgit said...

Oh I’m so glad you picked something with good ole Mamie in it. I have not seen any of these films but would love to. The first 2 sound trashy 50s which I love to watch.