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It must have been impossible for tourists and even working astronomers
to study the stars from Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles that
year with two films being done on location there. One of them became a
classic and of course that's Rebel Without A Cause.
Then there's Teenage Crime Wave which seems to have been based somewhat on the Charles Starkweather/Caril Ann Fugate story. Starkweather and Fugate were a pair of thrill kill seeking young people who went a murder spree around this same period.
Tommy Cook who was trying to establish himself in adult roles at the time plays a kid who sets his girl friend, Molly McCart free as she's going to jail for robbery. A second girl, Sue England, is also freed and she becomes the Patty Hearst of the piece, ostensibly trapped by circumstances with these two punks. The film is about their escapades and eventual downfall at Griffith Park Observatory.
Cook and McCart are really a pair without any redeeming value unlike even the hoodlum kids in Rebel Without A Cause. The dialog and the situation will give you a chuckle and at times border on the hilarious.
It's like Reefer Madness with guns.
This film made for a hilarious MST3K show, so I'm kind of surprised no
one has commented on it yet.
At any rate, It's a fairly typical "juvenile crime" flick of the
fifties that might hold your interest on it's own. The actress who plays
the good girl is a real dish; and the character of Terry makes the film
somewhat ahead of it's time in that the movie asks for sympathy for her
despite the fact that She is really, really mean. These movies where a
gun is held on the good people by the bad guys can rate some suspense in
spite of themselves.
Kind of fun in any case, and it uses the Griffith Park planetarium just
like in "Rebel Without a Cause".
The "teenagers" in this crime wave are all at least 25, with Sue
England clearly over-age. But it doesn't much matter because the movie
never really gels. Tommy Cook strikes the tough- guy poses, but despite
the energetic effort can't work up a convincing menace or snarl to go
with it. Too bad a Jan Merlin or a Nick Adams didn't have the part.
Then too, I wonder what the story is behind Mollie McCart. Her acting
is uneven at best, still she does present an interesting screen
presence. Her meager credits look like she left acting after a brief
fling. Nonetheless, with more seasoning, she might have developed into
an actress of note. However, both look like Oscar candidates next to
poor Frank Griffin who appears too petrified to register anything but a
frozen stare. Rarely have I seen anyone so clearly uncomfortable
performing on screen. No wonder he switched from acting to Hollywood
1955 was the year teen sub-culture emerged with rock music, James Dean, and Elvis. Drive- in movies were catching on with both youngsters and movie-makers, a niche Roger Corman would exploit to the hilt. Actually, this Columbia release plays like a drive-in special with its emphasis on sex, fast cars, and juvenile delinquency. It's also cheaply produced, the screen time mainly confined to the drab farmhouse. I expect producers recognized this and tried to compensate with the boffo climax at the Griffith Park Observatory. The staging is pretty contrived, but does make for an interesting backdrop to the chase scenes. It looks like the classic Rebel Without a Cause and this movie were made about the same time, and I wonder which had the Observatory idea first since both use it. My guess is that fast-buck artists at Columbia anticipated Rebel's success and sought to ride the coattails. Anyway, the film blends two popular movie topics of the timehome invasion and juvenile criminality. Beyond that, there's little to recommend, except maybe a few laughs. (In passingslight correction in another review: the Fugate-Starkweather murder spree was 1958, three years after this movie.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love MST3K. It was my favorite TV show, ever. That in mind, this was the only movie I've seen them do that I would have preferred watching without the ironic comments, and that's because of how subversive this film is intended to be. It's obvious that the director intended the audience to find the "Teen-age Crime Wave" glamorous, and every other character completely corny and bullet-worthy. It's a forerunner of Natural Born Killers. In fact, I found myself wondering why the "villians" didn't murder more people! It really would have been in their best interests, after all, and, hey - once you've killed one straight who wants to put you away forever, you may as well keep on doing it, right? Despite the attempts at making the male criminal somewhat unappealing, for his stupidity and reliance on his gun for courage, Terry is one of the most successfully appealing criminals in the history of film. Notice the scene in the barn where she tries to seduce the Good Son, who then thinks he got the drop on her when he steals her pistol, but - oops! It's not loaded. And she has the loaded one! Anyone not entranced by this vixen yet is a neuter. I highly recommend this film to any admirer of the perverse and subversive. It's one of those films from the mid '50's that only masqueraded as a morality tale.
I viewed this movie on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as
most people born in the last 30 or 40 years has. I do not see this
being a classic that people would pull up a chair and watch without the
riffing of the gang on the satellite of love. Still, it had its moments
as it was better than more than a couple of the films they have done.
It did make me wonder what was going to happen and who was going to
die. It also surprised me as I figured this one girl who was arrested
and charged, but not really a part of the gang was going to figure more
into the film than she did; however, for the most part all she did was
fret a whole heck of a lot!
The story has a girl leading a man to a deserted street where her boyfriend and a guy they set up with a girl who really wanted nothing to do with any of it mug a guy. The two guys get away when the police come, but the two girls get caught and sentenced to a juvenile delinquent prison. Not sure why the one girl did not just tell the police the identity of the two guys as that would have saved her a trip, but she and the girl are being transported when the bad girl's boyfriend shows up and kills a cop and springs the two girls, though the one did not want to go. They end up at a farm house where they keep a father and wife hostage and later their son. The law is closing in which makes them more and more desperate.
This movie made for a pretty good episode of MST3K. I always prefer the more horror and science fiction oriented episode, but a few of this off the wall ones were good too. This one is a lot like the one with the gang of girls who committed all the crimes, but that episode was a lot funnier. This episode had its moments as far as the riffing, but the thing that stood out the most for me were all the false endings at the actual end of the episode. My guess is the movie was too short to fill the run time, but too long to include a short.
So, the movie had some good points, it was not like The Creeping Terror or various others where there is just about no redeemable qualities, but it isn't anything you are second guessing as far as them riffing it in the first place. Honestly, the best thing about the movie was the bad girl as she was a cute little thing, much cuter than the other one who had more of the look from that era. In the end, one of those movies where you are waiting for the bad guys to get it in the end and it surprises you a bit with how it unfolds.
Teen-age Crime Wave (1956)
** (out of 4)
Good girl Jane (Sue England) gets mixed up with bad girl (Molly McCart) and soon both of them are headed to jail even though Jane is innocent. On the way to jail June's boyfriend (Tommy Cook) kills the cop and takes the girls with him where they land at a farm house where they hold an elderly couple hostage. This is yet another juvenile delinquent movie from this era, which seemed to have at least ten per month. This one here comes from director Sears who's best known for the laughable The Giant Claw and thankfully this one here features just as many laughs. Yes, if you're expecting Citizen Kane then you're going to be disappointed but if you want some cheap, exploitation laughs then this is a decent little time killer. The movie runs at a pretty fast pace except for the final twenty-minutes where things slow up a tad too much. I think knocking off ten-minutes of the 77-minute running time would have helped things. As for the actual film, you get girls fighting and bad guys Cook and McCart acting tough. All of this makes for some pretty good laughs but McCart actually manages to be very entertaining with her seduction/tough girl image. The scene where she tries to seduce the farmer's son in the barn is priceless. Cook doesn't give what I'd consider a good performance but it is campy enough to deliver some fun. The production values aren't too bad and the supporting players do decent enough of work but in the end this film is all about nostalgia and laughs and it has plenty of both.
Yep, I have been watching one movie a day every day for the past year!
I am so glad to mention this even though the movie I actually saw was
bad. Well, then again, I watched the MST3K version which is always
nice. From the title, it seemed like this would have a lot of action in
it. There was really anything but. It tells the story of this girl who
get involved with these criminals and while she's being transported to
a correctional facility, they bust her out. They hold this family
hostage for reasons I don't even remember.
I was thinking it would be lame if it would just show the girl at the correctional facility, but they did something different. Yes, they ended up spending the whole movie in a house threatening the people who live there. In hindsight, that isn't much better. This film is mostly boring as it just nothing but talk and bad acting the whole time. There's a little bit of action towards the end. At least it was something special for me. *1/2
"Teen-Age Crime Wave" is clearly intended as an exploitational film--to
scare the audience and sensationalize the topic of juvenile crime.
Plus, it's doggone silly because the teens in the film are all closer
to their 30s than their teen! Oddly, this sort of bizarro casting was
the norm in the 1950s--even with higher quality films of the genre such
as "Rebel Without a Cause" where only one member of the starring cast
was high school age! Yet, in spite of its low budget and all its other
obvious shortcomings, there is something strangely entertaining about
this film and I do recommend it--but still give it a 5 due to the
production values. As far as entertainment goes, it's far better. The
acting is good for unknowns and the script is excellent--probably too
good for a film of such low pedigree! It's a great film for
exploitation lovers or someone wanting something different.
The film has a familiar theme--similar to "The Desperate Hours" in that a group of psycho criminals take a family hostage and spend much of the film menacing them. A similar low-budget film made just a few later is the surprisingly good "The Sadist"--by Arch Hall--a man known for genuinely crappy films! It's well worth seeking if you like "Teen-Age Crime Wave".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**SPOILERS** Your usual troubled youth of the 1950's movie that has the
distinction of being filmed at the famous Griffin Park Observatory just
two months-in January 1955- before the granddaddy of all 1950's
troubled youth movies was filmed there "Reble Without a Cause".
In "Teenage Crime Wave" we have these two crazy mixed up kids Mike & Terry, Tommy Cook & Molly McCart, who get themselves in hot water by gunning dawn a deputy sheriff during an escape, with Terry being the one who does the escaping, attempt. Along with both Mike & Terry is Jane, Sue England, who was being transfered to a womens detention center for armed robbery. As we've seen earlier in the film Jane was an innocent bystander, but go tell that to the judge, when both Terry and Mike mugged Freddy Boy, George Cisan, who picked up Terry at a sleazy bar thinking that he'll score with her.
Now on the run from the state troopers the three end up at the Grant House where both Tom & Sarah Grant, James Bell & Kay Riehi, are preparing to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday with their son handsome US Army hero Ben, Frank Griffin. Not realizing the fix that they find themselves in the two fugitives from the law not only hold the Grants, together with Jane, hostage but tip off the police in getting their not too bright friend Al, Jimmy Ogg, to drive over to the place with a carload of weapons! This has Al, when he resist arrest, get gunned down by the state troopers who then, knowing where Al was headed, surround the Grant house!
***SPOILERS*** Besides having, because of his incompetence, the place surrounded by the police Mike also has his girlfriend Terry fall for the handsome Ben who just about had it with his both bizarre and mindless behavior. The movie ends with Mike trying to elude the police by getting himself trapped like a rat, with all escape routes blocked, at the Griffin Park Observatory. Knowing that his brief, and very unsuccessful, crime career is over-with his girlfriend Terry gunned down by the police- Mike finally comes to his senses. It's then that the cops, together with war hero Ben Grant, put the cuffs on him and haul the notorious "Cry-Baby Mike Denton" away to face ultimate justice.
This is a very worthwhile diversion. Tommy Cook overacts all over the place, but it does provide many enjoyable chuckles. Molly McCart does a fine job as Terry and deserved a successful career based on the talent she displayed here. While Sue English as Jane portrayed her character satisfactorily, the role did not require much of a stretch. Given her obvious attractiveness, I am surprised I was not previously aware of this actress! This production must have had an "in" with the Griffiths Observatory, as they were certainly given full access to the site! Recommended fun! James Bell,the farmer, is immediately recognizable from the dozens of TV and film roles he's had over the years!
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