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Young hobos are brought to a new camp to become good Soviet citizens. This camp works without any guards, and it works well. But crooks kill one of the young people when they try to damage the newly build railroad to that camp.Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
"Wild Boys", homeless juvenile criminals, are reformed by the opportunity for honest labor in what is claimed as the first Soviet talking feature.
That means, of course, that it has a very strong propaganda component, and that the copy I saw, with a foreword by John Dewey and the New York State Censor's seal, with lots of English titles, was anything but the original version. The writer-director, Nikolai Ekk, only directed five features and a couple of shorts, none of which I have seen. The performers are likewise strangers to me.... oh, everyone is new to me. So, without putting this movie into the context of the career of any of the cast or crew, what's on the screen in what I assume to be a severely compromised version?
It begins as a very Academician-style movie: so much so that any movement is subordinated to the rigors of editing, and the soundtrack seems to be more a matter of scene-setting crowd noises, and bits of dialogue connected to characters when they are not on screen. In other words, it's more of a photo album with commentary for the prologue, telling how this marvelous reform began. It is not until the story is well away, and the youngsters are at the settlement where they will work, that things begin to settle down into what is more understandable story-telling.
I find the use of "wild boys" for what we would call "juvenile delinquents" to raise some questions. Certainly, William Wellman's WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD describes the American equivalent. Because the two movies are contemporary... well, some problems are universal, even if their solutions are not.
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