High school students led by the Girl and Boy turn from Christianity toward secret atheistic meetings. When a girl is accidentally killed by a stairway collapse, the Girl and Boy go to ... See full summary »
High school students led by the Girl and Boy turn from Christianity toward secret atheistic meetings. When a girl is accidentally killed by a stairway collapse, the Girl and Boy go to reform school where they are treated brutally. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to journalist Dorothy Donnell, director Cecil B. DeMille spent eight months and $200,000 on research before the production began. This included the enrolling of a young male informant into a boy's reform school and a female informant into a girl's school. Two large scrapbooks were kept in DeMille's archive, containing sworn testimonials by many former inmates, with graphic descriptions of the brutalities they endured. Donnell later said, "I have seen these books, and read in them things so revolting that they will probably never be printed." See more »
Opening Title Card:
It is not generally known that there are Atheist Societies using the schools of the country as their battle-ground - attacking, through the Youth of the Nation, the beliefs that are sacred to most of the people.
Opening Title Card:
And no fanatics are so bitter as youthful fanatics.
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Cecil B. DeMille was notorious for spectacle films, and his religious ones were always successful. This movie combines both of these, but it also employs another of DeMille's talents, social commentary.
Judy (Lina Basquette) is an atheist, and passes out flyers about her Godless club to recruit new members. Bob (Tom Keene) is a Christian who hates what Judy is doing to the school. As class president, he brings a group of believers to an atheist rally to crash the party. It becomes a violent fight between the two sides which ends in the death of a girl. The leaders of the groups, Judy and Bob, are held responsible, and are sent to reform school.
This isn't the reform school from a children's film. The guards (Noah Beery) are as harsh as jail guards and they have no tolerance for mistakes. Judy finds a friend in Mame (Marie Prevost), a believer who takes on a leadership position with Judy. Her religion detracts in no way from her spunky personality, though, and she proves to be a bright spot in such a terrible place. The two girls can't seem to avoid trouble, and neither can Bob, so the three form sort of a team. But the gongs keep ringing, signaling orders to be carried out. It is inevitable that something major happens.
Of course it does, and there are revelations. The religious aspects of the film are subtle but nonetheless powerful. Any faith can watch and enjoy this movie. It is thanks to the actors for making each lesson so strong and truthful. Basquette and Keene are great together. Prevost is outstanding in her role. She commands attention because she is equally fun and moral, adding a depth not often found in sidekick roles.
The film it an absolutely amazing example of the abilities of silent film makers. The editing is fantastic, and so many innovative camera angles are used, it's amazing that talkies took so long to re-adopt them. The finished product is polished and perfect; every second is captivating.
Many thanks go to Kevin Brownlow and Photoplay Productions for the restoration of this film. Carl Davis provides an enchanting score that compliments the action wonderfully. This is a top-notch film that was worked on by top-notch film lovers.
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