Peter Frye, typical American boy, is orphaned when his parents are caught in the London Blitz. He is not told of their fate, but shuttled from one selfish relative to the next, ending with "Gramp," a kindly ex-vaudevillean. Peter and Gramp, both fond of "Irish bulls," get along fine; but the morning after Peter finally learns he's an orphan, his hair spontaneously turns green! The absurd over-reactions of stupid people overturn his life as the story becomes a parable. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Unfortunately for the film's director, Joseph Losey, the eccentric, politically conservative Howard Hughes took over RKO while this film was being shot and, hating the film's pacifist message, did his best to sabotage it. Losey, however, managed to protect the integrity of his project. Screenwriter Ben Barzman, who was also later blacklisted along with Losey, would later recall that "Joe shot the picture in such a way that there wasn't much possibility for change. A few lines were stuck in here and there to soften the message, but that was about it". Barzman also remembered that 12-year-old Dean Stockwell was called into Hughes' office and Hughes told him that when the other children spoke of the horror of war, he should say, "And that's why America has gotta have the biggest army, and the biggest navy, and the biggest air force in the world!" According to Barzman, little Stockwell was so in sympathy with the film's message that he dared to respond, "No, sir!" Even after Hughes started to scream at him, the boy held his ground and refused to do it. See more »
When the barber is preparing to cut his hair, a close-up shot shows a chunk of cut hair on his right side. Then when the barber begins cutting, it's not there. But re-appears for the next close-up of him crying. See more »
Such a Simple Fantasy Tale Got It's Director Blacklisted
The Boy With Green Hair is still a heart warming fantasy that should be required viewing the world over. Problem is that those in the Christian, Moslem, and Secular spheres in this world who could profit by it most will never see it.
Dean Stockwell is a 12 year old pre-pubescent war orphan due to World War II having been passed around from various relations and goes to live with Pat O'Brien. During the course of a school project collecting money for war orphans he wakes up one day and finds his hair turned an evergreen green.
Spirits of some of the dead orphans visit him and tell him he's been chosen to have this mark put on him to show the world that war is a bad thing for everyone, but especially for children. The rest of the film concerns Stockwell and how he deals with a responsibility.
Ironically enough this theme is universal and you wouldn't think that it would cause someone to be blacklisted. But that's what happened to director Joseph Losey. Losey had some leftwing pre World War II associations and he made this film as the lines were hardened for the Cold War. Bad timing on his part.
I've always felt that had their been a slightly more religious undertone to the film nothing would ever have happened. I've always felt that Dean Stockwell's situation was similar to that of a young Jesus. The only story recorded in the Gospels about Jesus after his birth and before he began his ministry was that story concerning him being found in the Temple discussing religious questions with the temple elders. He was as marked at that point as surely as if He had been given Stockwell's green hair.
For the first time Pat O'Brien was given a role befitting his age and he handles it well. His part is as an entertainer, a singing waiter, and he does a bit of song and snappy Irish blarney patter. As his film career waned, O'Brien used some of the material you see here as part of his nightclub act he created.
Barbara Hale does well as the sympathetic school teacher. Robert Ryan is wasted in a part as a social worker who is interviewing you Stockwell at the beginning of the film as Stockwell tells him of the events leading to him being a runaway. Such a fine actor had so little to do here, but look sympathetic.
The Boy With Green Hair also introduced the song Nature Boy that launched Nat King Cole's career as a solo recording artist. It was a mega-hit back in 1948, helped by the fact that a lot of the major record companies were being struck. Cole had signed with the new Capitol label which wasn't unionized at that point and in the vacuum his career was launched.
It's a timeless message The Boy With Green Hair conveys about the horror of war. Everyone should see this.
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