Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Did anybody know any teens like that?

I find some of the teen movies from the 1950s so interesting just because they seem so warped, as if there was never this sort of reality. The adults may have thought this was reality, but I have a tough time believing it, in part because I don't remember high school being like this for me or any of my friends. A good example of this is Blue Denim, which is airing tomorrow at 1:00 PM on the Fox Movie Channel.

Brandon de Wilde stars as Arthur, a teenager whom nobody in his family understands. His father, a strict army veteran played by Macdonald Carey, complains about Arthur's grades and just to show how little he understands his son, took the elderly family dog to the vet to have it put to sleep without taking the son. Arthur's sister is getting married, so she and mom have no time for him. It seems as if the only person who does have time for Arthur is his not-so-good-influence friend Ernie, played by Warren Berlinger (in real life five years de Wilde's senior). He drinks, smokes, and gambles with Arthur, and seems to know a bit more about the world.

And then there's Janet, Arthur's girlfriend, played by the lovely Carol Lynley. The two want to be oh-so-adult, and to them this means experimenting with sex. In some ways, they seem not to know the finer points about how to satisfy a partner. But they certainly know how to get a girl knocked up, as we eventually learn that Janet is pregnant. Oops. What's a teenage boy to do, especially one who thinks nobody understands him? Well, Ernie heard that there's somebody on the other side of town who knows where you can get a procedure that will deal with these things. This being the 1950s, they can't say the word "abortion" in a Hollywood movie, but you get the point.

Blue Denim alternates between being an unintenional hoot, and tedious beyond belief. Brandon de Wilde isn't as bad as Julie Harris in Member of the Wedding, and Berlinger is generally just a jerk. Lynley is lovely to look at, and all of the adults are one-dimensional. It's the sort of thing that you might have seen on one of those "After School Specials" that the networks ran back in the 1970s and 1980s. Watch it once just for a laugh, but that's about it.

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