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Currently, the picture on IMDb for this film appears to be some sort of
porno film--NOT "Young and Wild"! Also, like most 'youth run wild'
films of the era, the teens in this film are well into their 20s--and
near 30 in some cases.
The film begins with three punks stealing a car and going joyriding. However, this isn't the end of it by any means. Next, they attack a young couple--beating the boy and nearly raping the girl. On their way from this little frivolity, they run over a woman--killing her instantly. Clearly, these young men are thugs--and not just the kinda bad guys from most 50s movies of this genre. When the police investigate, the punks are able to concoct an alibi but they later seek out the young couple--to make sure they don't identify them in a police lineup. And, after being beaten up again and threatened at knifepoint, it's not surprising that they recant their initial identifications. Not surprisingly, this only emboldens the punks. What's next? See this gritty film for yourself.
This film actually surprised me. While it clearly appeared to be just another film about those crazy youths, it was far deeper and far better. It was NOT just another mindless exploitation film but a well-crafted low-budget film.
By the way, look for the young cop during the interrogation scene--it's Gavin MacLeod.
This film, while typical of juvenile delinquent stories of the 50s, actually gives some insight into police investigative skill and professional capability. They are shown as being truly intelligent people, a refreshing change from the usually degrading image where they seem a little less intelligent than others. As always, I enjoy these nostalgic teenage 50s films and this is no exception.
Catch that opening. Looks like the movie wants "wild" right up front.
Teen hoodlums led by Braden (Marlowe) bounce off people at the drive-in
like berserk pinballs. From the git-go, it's hard to see how these
characters are still on the loose. But then the only thing 1950's
middle-class Americans feared more than Hollywood's juvenile
delinquents was the spread of the Red Menace.
In that same vein, Marlowe makes a truly detestable sneering punk. Along with Richard Bakalyan, he qualifies as a punk super-star from the 50's. Here, Braden and his two buddies terrorize the sweet teen-age Valerie (Kearney), her boyfriend Jerry (Arthur), and her mom and dad. Trouble is that on a reckless spree, the hoodlums hit-and-run an old woman, and now the cops want them. But will the terrorized Valerie and Jerry testify against them. That's the crux.
Actor Evans brings uncommon sensitivity to the role of detective-sergeant on Braden's trail. It's real testimony to his professionalism that he would perform so ably in a teen flick like this. I hope there's a special place in Hollywood heaven for actors like him. And catch Weston Gavin mugging it up as hoodlum Allie (I think). I kept confusing his looks with In Cold Blood's (1967) Robert Blake. There is a strong resemblance.
Veteran director Witney manages to keep things moving, while I'm still savoring that testy exchange between the lordly Morris Ankrum (the captain) and the calmly effective Evans. It's a nifty little dust-up. And speaking of adults, catch veteran radio voice Wendell Holmes as the unprincipled alibi provider. I still remember him from the 1940's Mr. District Attorney.
Anyway, the movie amounts to an engaging little teen flick distinguished by a good cast, and on the whole, better than I expected.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A bunch of punks terrorize the "nice kids" and the law hopes to get the
evidence to toss the book at them, although its difficult to get the
victims to agree to testify. While realistic in nature and certainly
out of the newspaper headlines of this era, the obvious major problem
is that the casting of the thugs (assumed to be in their late
teens/early 20's) has them obviously a lot older than they are supposed
to be. Violent and tense, the film is a depressing view of our society,
told realistically and more sensitively just a few years before in
"Rebel Without a Cause". No real motive is given for the behavior of
these juvenile delinquents who at one point are prepared to rape the
heroine other than the fact that they didn't seem to have any parental
The young characters are all presented as "All-American" or "All-Anger", no middle ground detailed to show that there could be kids that had both good and bad in them, that young adults like this could be reformed. The actors, for the most part, seem to come into this film without any real training, so this does give a natural feeling (if still uncomfortable) to their performances. It is obvious that this was made in the "exploitation" mold rather than a realistic depiction of society as a whole. So many of these films were made that it is impossible to tell one from another. This is just one of those films that will leave you with the angry feeling of how we allowed our society to become like this, to the point of no return. While the film certainly makes its points, it is simply too ugly to like.
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