Hal Ditmar is a clean-cut kid, the son of a wealthy movie producer. When an argument at a theatre turns into a fight between Hal and the theatre manager, Hal finds no one, not even his father, will believe his actions were justified as self-defense. The police are concerned that Hal is a juvenile delinquent in the making, but the real problem lies in Hal's father's inattention to his son. It's up to Hal's mother to try to bridge the gulf between father and son. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
A teenage boy estranged from his wealthy father gets into trouble with the law.
Earnest little teen-age drama. I'm not surprised the movie came from a TV play since the production resembles a Playhouse 90 drama from TV's so-called Golden Age. MacArthur performs wonderfully as the alienated son of a wealthy self-centered dad (Daly). This was the kid's first acting outing and he mostly low-keys it, showing the repression he suffers because of an overly cocksure dad.
Of course, the concern with "juvenile delinquency" dates the show to the 1950's, conjuring up images of a James Dean, a temptation MacArthur wisely avoids. Nonetheless, as in Dean's Rebel Without a Cause (1955), the boy's problems boil down to a dysfunctional dadtoo weak in Dean's case, too strong in MacArthur's. Hal's (MacArthur) refusal to come up with an easy apology because he knows he's right about the punch-out in the theater, shows strong character that dad fails to consider. I too, thought why not apologize even if it betrays the facts since that would end the problem with the law. But Hal stays true to the facts because he knows he's right. All in all, it's a good dramatic crux.
The movie's perfectly cast, though I have to say the excellent actress Kim Hunter is largely wasted in a role a hundred lesser performers could have handled. Newcomer Frankenheimer directs with a sure and knowing hand that foreshadows his outstanding Hollywood career-- The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Seconds (1966), among others.
No, there're no fast car races, or sexy teen girls, standard features of teen movies of the day. In fact, the only action is the set-to in the theater and the lawnmower hijinks. Nevertheless, the movie remains a compelling little human interest drama that manages to survive the decades, thanks mainly to MacArthur.
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