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Youth Runs Wild (1944)

Passed  |   |  Drama  |  28 May 1945 (UK)
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Ratings: 4.7/10 from 169 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 5 critic

During WWII, adults are either off fighting or busy in the factories, so juvenile delinquency becomes a major problem back home. Danny Hauser, a wounded soldier, finds this out as he ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Kent Smith ...
Danny Coates
Jean Brooks ...
Mary Hauser Coates
Glen Vernon ...
Frank 'Frankie' Hauser (as Glenn Vernon)
Vanessa Brown ...
Sarah Taylor (as Tessa Brind)
Ben Bard ...
Mr. Taylor
Mary Servoss ...
Mrs. Cora Hauser
Arthur Shields ...
Mr. Dunlop
Larry Duncan
Georgie Dunlop
Johnny Walsh ...
Herb Vigero
Rod Rodgers ...
Elizabeth Russell ...
Mrs. Mabel Taylor


During WWII, adults are either off fighting or busy in the factories, so juvenile delinquency becomes a major problem back home. Danny Hauser, a wounded soldier, finds this out as he returns and three young boys are promptly placed in the care of him and his wife by the court after some hooliganism. How to keep them straight? Written by Ken Yousten <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A STORY THAT FAIRLY EXPLODES IN YOUR FACE (original poster - all caps) See more »




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 May 1945 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

I parastratimeni  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Because RKO re-cut Val Lewton's original version and eliminated several scenes, many cast members in studio records/casting call lists did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie. These were (with their character names): Margaret Landry (Hysterical Girl), Joan Blair (Mrs. Loring), Molly Lamont (Mrs. Webster), Dorothy Malone (Girl in Booth), Daun Kennedy (Girl in Booth), Mike Road (Boy with Toddy), Donald Kerr (Member of Horse Act), Les Clark (Member of Horse Act), Gordon Jones (Truck Driver), Harry Harvey (Watchman), Jack Gargan (Man at Shooting Gallery) and Don Dillaway (Drunk). Some other more obscure cast members may also have been cut. See more »


Featured in Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) See more »


Baa! Baa! Black Sheep
Traditional nursery song
Sung a cappella by an off-screen child in the day care center
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent film from a usually weak genre
10 July 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Youth Runs Wild is an unusually good film for this genre, and given it's short running time and engaging story-telling, I recommend it.

Most Hollywood films of the war era make every effort to depict American family life on the home-front as unrealistically perfect. Those filmmakers who strayed from this prerequisite story often found their efforts on the cutting room floor. Conversely, Youth Runs Wild makes an honest and enjoyable effort to depict the more flawed reality and with a storyline that is not too marred by the passage of time. Our story here deals with what at the time was a relatively new problem in America; parents called away from their household and family obligations to support the war effort and leaving adolescent and even younger children with insufficient supervision. The resulting consequences could just as easily serve as a warning to the parents of today called away from their obligations far too frequently in the less justifiable quest to obtain material possessions.

For what is essentially an exploitive low-budget second-feature, Youth Runs Wild must be credited for its excellent casting. Both A-Listers and unknowns impart depth and warmth to their characters, and the largest contributing factor to the film's impressive honesty is that none of these people are purely good or purely evil.

I think the most touching and heartbreaking event in our story occurs when Danny's parents force him to end his relationship with his girlfriend next door, Sarah. This is exactly the kind of situation that occurs in many a home in real life. Danny has become truant from school, begun to get into all kinds of trouble, and is developing a real surly attitude at home. Sarah's parents would not be considered a good influence by anyone, Danny's parents naturally presume the apple does not fall far from the tree and blame Sarah for Danny's delinquency and forbid him to see her anymore. While entirely well intentioned, it is the worst thing that happens to him in the whole film, they have removed the most positive influence from Danny's life and nothing good comes of it.

The character of Sarah is well played by an unknown Vanessa Brown. This type of character was often given to Cathy O'Donnell, who would never have been able to give Sarah the underlying level of pathos that Ms. Brown does. Once Danny is removed from her life, Sarah attaches herself to the local bad girl, Toddy – played by Bonita Granville who is always wonderful in this type of role. Toddy leads her into a sordid nightlife, badly sanitized to meet 1940's standards of acceptability, but I think even contemporary audiences knew the life Toddy led her to was not being a simple "hostess", but a shill for a clip joint and probably eventually prostitution. Toddy does, after all, live rather well for an essentially orphaned girl in small town middle America.

It might not stand up to repeated viewings for some, and as others have pointed out, Turner Classic Movies' print of Youth Runs Wild is rather beat-up looking; but I would describe this as unusually good work for this particular genre and certainly worth investing an hour of your time. Honest and thought-provoking character film.

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