5.6/10
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2 user 1 critic

Riot in Juvenile Prison (1959)

| Drama | April 1959 (USA)
When the shootings of two juvenile inmates bring public protest, a psychologist is brought in to see if he can do anything to control the problems peacefully.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jerome Thor ...
Paul A. Furman, M.D.
Marcia Henderson ...
Grace Hartwell
...
Eddie Bassett
...
Col. Ernest Walton (warden)
Virginia Aldridge ...
Kitty Anderson
...
Babe
Richard Tyler ...
Stu Killion (as Dick Tyler)
Jack Grinnage ...
Dink, an inmate
...
Bess Monahan
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When the shootings of two juvenile inmates bring public protest, a psychologist is brought in to see if he can do anything to control the problems peacefully.

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catfight | prison | See All (2) »

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The EXPLOSIVE Story of a CO-ED PRISON! Boy and Girl Inmates Together Under One Roof!!! See more »

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Drama

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April 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jugend ohne Gesetz  »

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(Ryder Sound Services)

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1.85 : 1
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Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Boulevard (1976) See more »

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Jerome Thor tries to get the chip off of Scott Marlowe's shoulder
5 March 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Riot in Juvenile Prison" is a competently and smoothly done film. It looks good. The acting is good. The director, Edward Cahn, typically rises above his material. The problem with the film is that the story is so hokey. The teens are supposed to be tough and errant, but also put upon by the tough warden. It's hard to rise above the film clichés generated by years of earlier Warner Brothers treatments in the 1930s and make the 1950s version seem real. The problem of this film is clichés and a failure to make it all believable. So, while the movie is executed well enough, it's also somewhat hard to swallow, unless you just happen to be a fan of schlock juvenile movies of the 50s or can overlook its limitations. There is a sub-genre of these movies, and some now seem quaint relics of their time unless they were able to break through the clichés.

In this case we have the prototypical teen who has leadership qualities but has this huge chip on his shoulder. He really hates the "screws". Into a boys' prison or detention facility comes a new psychiatrist, Jerome Thor. He's going to change the institution from A to Z. He first makes it co-ed. Later he'll get rid of all the guards. From tough treatment to an attempt to instill self-discipline and conformity to society's usual rules, that's the story. And everyone will get an aptitude test so that job training can be introduced. Society through Dr. Thor will reform kids who come from unfortunate family backgrounds.

But there are obstacles to this dream program. The kids have their rivalries and sex drives. Marlowe doesn't want to give in and feel manipulated. The public gets upset over the least bit of trouble that the newspapers blow up out of all proportion. The governor feels the pressure.

All in all, the movie earnestly introduces a number of realistic elements and tries to rise above the challenges of making a story about social problems. Its success is only partial. This is, after all, a b-movie, not a James Dean story. It doesn't happen to be one of those gems that occasionally are found. It's a typical kind of movie of its juvenile sub-genre and time. I watch one every so often, despite the occasional groans they elicit. I was glad to have seen this one.


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