|Index||5 reviews in total|
Juvenile Jungle (1958)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Republic got in on the juvenile craze of the post-REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE era with this rather silly kidnapping flick. Hal McQueen (Corey Allen) gets wrapped up with a gang of misfits, led by Monte (Joe DiReda) and soon they plan to kidnap the rich Carolyn Elliot (Anne Whitfield) and blackmail her father. Everything is going as planned but soon Hal and Carolyn fall in love and when he tries to back out of the plan it doesn't sit well with the gang. JUVENILE JUNGLE isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but if you're a fan of the genre then I think you'll have a good time with it. The movie is certainly cheesy and rather moronic at times but the most important thing is that it goes by extremely quick and it's a lot of fun. I think the real key to the film are the performances. No, none of them are Oscar worthy and most of them cause laughs but I think each of the actors really deliver a memorable character. Allen comes across good as the bad guy turned good and DiReda is a riot as the leader of the 100% bad guys. Rebecca Welles is also a blast playing the female gang member who goes crazy throughout the movie and this added a lot of camp value and laughs. Richard Bakalyan was also fun as Tic-Tac. Whitfield also a very memorable moment during the first portion of the string when she witnesses a fight and her facial reactions are just priceless. The dialogue is full of fun as well as the kids are constantly trying to sound hip but of course today it just comes off silly. There are some good fist fights along the way and even a catfight towards the end. JUVENILE JUNGLE isn't going to make you forget James Dean but it's a fun little movie.
A nice example of what you can do on a small budget. The script offers
plenty of action and characters drawn in simple, bold strokes. Witney's
direction gives you both pace and punch. He does a great job with the
cast, getting forceful, lively performances from many of the actors.
Fans of the JD genre will not be disappointed.
Jack Marta's cinematography is also worth looking at. While he's obviously hampered a little by the budget, this film looks way better than your average quickie JD flick. He does some nice things with lighting and composition. A few years later he got a chance to show what he could really do when he worked on Route 66.
This film was helmed by a man who two weeks ago I had never heard of. William Witney directed many films yet most are totally unaware of who he is. Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, many of us in Seattle have been somewhat enlightened. This film is a JD picture from the late 50's. Although extremely tame by todays standards, it is certainly good enough to hold the attention of all but the most impatient of my generation. As far as Witney's work is concerned, his direction is in my opinion quite good. The sets look well thought out and the pace is never slow. The story is good enough but nothing too memorable. I didn't like this movie as much as another Witney picture Tarantino presented (Santa Fe Passage)but enjoyed it purely to watch a director who was a master of his craft. In todays directorial excesses of stylish shots and flash, its good to take some time and examine a film that is more story driven than style driven. I don't think I liked this as much as Quentin, but still enjoyed it nonetheless. 6/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At first, this looks like yet another youth gone wild film from the
1950s--and they made a ton of them! However, the plot is a bit
different and offers a fresher option to the usual B-movie involving
teenage gangs and the dreaded rock 'n roll.
The film involves your friendly neighborhood gang of dirt-bags. However, instead of the usual mayhem, their leader, Hal McQueen, decides they should make a big score. So, he arranges for the gang to attack a liquor store owner's daughter and Hal steps in and saves the day. She is taken by him and thinks he's a hero--and then he can spring his trap. They'll kidnap her and use her to get hold of a payroll. However, there is an unexpected problem--Hal finds that he's actually starting to care about this girl. What's he to do? If he tries to back out now, his 'friends' might beat him to a pulp.
Like so many of the juvenile films, the actors are clearly NOT young. In fact, most look like they are about 30! Juveniles?! I don't think so! Still, the film does offer a few nice twists and isn't just some cheap exploitation film (despite the title). A decent time-passer made very economically.
No need to recap the kidnapping plot, which I couldn't do anyway. Good thing there's no truth in advertising in Hollywood. At best, the movie's so-called "juveniles" are in their 20's and 30's (e.g. Welles). Reviewer Elliot is right when not plain silly, the plot makes little sense. It's like the writers forgot from one day to the next. Then too, gang members DiReda (Monte) and Welles (Glory) ham it up like bargain day at Farmer John's, while Allen (Hal) appears bored with the whole idea. On the plus side are hoodlum super-star Richard Bakalyan as Tic-Tac and goofy looking Joe Conley as Duke. Between them, they provide amusing character color. At the same time, the gang's febrile antics are about as predictable as next week's weather. Nonetheless, veteran director Witney keeps things moving, so there's little time to dwell on the general nuttiness. All in all, I'm not sure what Republic was reaching for, but they should have stuck with their specialty, kids' westerns. Good thing these over-age delinquents are never boring, just like those great old matinée heroes.
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