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A propaganda film intended to highlight the growing problem of juvenile crime. Jane Koberly, present during a robbery, is falsely convicted of being an accessory. While being taken with her companion, Terry Marsh, to an industrial school on the week of Thanksgiving, Terry's boyfriend springs them both. With the police hot on their tail, they take over a farmhouse and terrorize the family within (the Grants) while waiting for a co-conspirator to arrive with money and transport. While waiting, the boyfriend becomes more psychotic as Terry starts putting the moves on the Grants's son (to make some kind of point), and Mr. Grant takes solace from the Bible. Written by
Leo L. Schwab <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Two teens on the lam take over a farm house and an elderly couple
"Teen-Age Crime Wave" is a well-directed film by Fred F. Sears. You can count on any film directed by Sears to make good entertainment. It seems that MST3K has parodied this film, and that may have contributed (through a band wagon effect) to its low rating of 3.1. (Personally, I dislike MST3K. I think what they do denigrates some good films and films that deserve better.) This a huge misjudgment of this film. It's actually a kind of b-picture cousin of "The Desperate Hours" from the same year, 1955.
There are two bad teens that dominate the film, and they are played by Tommy Cook and Molly McCart. The script shows us their characters in a lot of detail. They are quite different. Inside McCart's teen is an intelligent little girl that was exploited and never had a real childhood. She's striking back. Inside Cook's teen is a scared boy, impulsive, who needs McCart and who needs a gun to feel like a match for other men. There's an innocent teenager who has been misjudged and imprisoned, played by Sue England.
Ms. McCart steals the film. She has an excellent part and she brings it to life beautifully. Tommy Cook's portrayal simply cannot keep up with the depth and believability of McCart's. There should have been more menace in his performance. Instead we have to make do with quite a lot of blustering threats.
After Cook breaks McCart and England out of a car transporting them to prison, they take over a remote farmhouse in which live James Bell and Kay Riehl. The elderly Ms. Riehl goes into a faint toward the end of the picture and more or less stays there, but she plays a critical role in her interactions with McCart as she sees through her surface persona. Bell doesn't have much of a part beyond hanging in there. Their son shows up too, and he can't do much against Cook and McCart either. So, unlike "The Desperate Hours" in which Frederic March becomes something of a hero, we do not have that dynamic in this film. It's more downbeat in that respect. On the other hand, we have a more dynamic ending that takes us away from the house and to the Griffith Park Observatory.
I'd rate this 5.5 if I could. I'd also classify this film as a variant of noir, that is, one of several directions in which noir went around this time. There are a certain number of relatively overlooked teenage-oriented noirs and this is one of them (movies like "High School Confidential", "Teenage Doll", "T-Bird Gang", "High School Caesar", Juvenile Jungle, "Hot Car Girl" and others from America and Great Britain).
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