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Jill, a teenager, feels misunderstood by her neglectful selfish parents, Frank and Alice. Following a misunderstanding with Frank and trouble with her boyfriend she attempts suicide. Jill's guilt-ridden father tries at last to help her and to cheer her up but new problems ensue... Written by
"On the Loose" is a cautionary tale for parents. Jill Bradley (Joan Evans) is a neglected teen whose parents are so absorbed in their own issues they virtually ignore her, when they are not berating her. The parental relationship has the appearance of warring camps who communicate sparingly during ceasefires.
Jill, who is an only child, is left with time on her hands. She fills it with trips to the beach and school dances with her friends. She tries to fill the emotional hole in her heart with the attentions of Larry Lindsay (Robert Arthur), a teenage lothario with a convertible and, apparently, no parents.
After Larry falls by the wayside, Jill goes "on the loose" as portrayed by a barely ten-second clip showing her in the company of other young men. This earns her huge helpings of scorn from classmates and society at large. A girl must protect her reputation! When it is almost too late, her father, Frank (Melvyn Douglas), tries to heap on the paternal affection to save his daughter.
The story feels uneven and so does the acting. The dialogue is uninspired.
Other posters have compared this film to "Rebel Without a Cause". The two films certainly belong in the same genre, though "Rebel" really focuses on the teens and brings them to life. "On the Loose", though it focuses on Jill, seems to view the teen problem through society's eyes. It is more removed, less visceral.
After watching this film, the alerted teen will be wise to choose his parents more carefully.
Any possible cautionary message for parents might be undercut by the revelatory tagline "School-Girl by day... Thrill-Seeker by night!"
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