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>
From the very beginning this movie is a classic of the teens-in-trouble genre - or of any genre. In many respects it is better than "Rebel Without a Cause" with its stunning black and white cinematography, far less pretentious and overwrought plot, and scrupulous avoidance of anything smacking of exploitation. Performances are absolutely breathtaking, even those of secondary characters. The music is just perfect, a dream. Stylistically this is as good as it gets. The plot matches the subdued, sensitive style. But there is a fly in the ointment. The movie overplays its cards, pleading for so much compassion for a young man who doesn't quite merit it, that one tends to side with the theater manager whom he assaulted. The boy's feelings are so tender, that even when he escapes punishment he wants his victim and parents and society in general to admit that he wouldn't have deserved it, had he been so unlucky as to have gotten it. That is going too far. That is emotional blackmail. It's a nasty, bullying streak that the writer feeds and rewards. The implication seems to be that all the sensitive youth are concentrated in the upper strata of society. The wealthier the more "sensitive" kids are. That's occasion for mirth. Poor youngsters are as entitled to say "we are also sensitive", we are also going through phases, and we also need understanding and tender loving care.
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