Young and Willing (1954) Poster

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Super cameos and humour
MarkDain29 September 2003
Although there was probably some serious intent behind the film's premise e.g. the open prison system, social comment on post-war England as class barriers are breaking down which are interspersed throughout, it is the gentle humour that lifts it above the mediocre. Superb cameos from the great Athene Seyler and Sybil Thorndike playing two friends who plot to 'do in' an elderly admirer is made a great deal of by the director. The central story involving Glynis Johns is well told and each of the film's subsequent yarns make for a light but thoroughly enjoyable whole.
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Glynis Johns gets sent down
wilvram5 October 2015
A peculiar mixture this, with an attempt to portray something of the reality of contemporary womens' prisons on one hand, combined with comedy flashbacks and a fictional approach to crime on the other.

The story centres around Jean Raymond (Glynis Johns) who is the subject of an elaborate frame when she can't pay her gambling debts. In reality, a half competent barrister could have destroyed the case against her, should it have ever come to court in the first place, but here she's sent down for twelve months. There follows her experiences in the grim Blackdown Jail and then The Grange, a progressive 'prison without bars'. Many of the usual clichés of such films are avoided and the staff are shown as being very strict, but fair. One of the comedy episodes features a comical family of shoplifters headed by Sid James and Olive Sloane; Sid's prominent position in the cast list, despite a relatively brief appearance, is notable even at this stage of his career. Another piece of nonsense has a wooden Sybil Thorndike attempting to murder her husband, and then framing Athene Seyler for blackmail. By contrast the scenes in the prison hospital are more realistic, with Jane Hylton giving perhaps the best performance as Babs, haunted by the death of the baby she had neglected. Though third billed, Diana Dors is not very memorable in what is little more than a supporting role. A couple of years or so later she was to give her finest performance for the same director in YIELD TO THE NIGHT.

The finale, with the orchestra in full flow, is as contrived and sentimental as anything that Hollywood could produce. Despite or because of its various eccentricities, I quite enjoyed this.
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The Weak and the Wicked
execelsior-12 December 2010
I remember seeing this film as a child when it first came out. I disliked it intensely BUT obviously it could not have been as terrible as I thought since I remember it well. I did like both Glynis Johns and Diana Dors. If only these old films were available to us now, I for one would be very happy!!! I remember the cinema where I saw it. It was a 'flea pit' in those days with poor decor and broken seats. The cinema screen was taller than it was wide and the edges were rounded. This was very odd, I thought. I remember that the story dealt with women in prison and followed their misadventures both while 'inside' and after release. I remember being very impressed with Glynis Johns voice and Diana Dors curves. I also remember that the story ended reasonably happy for one but not the other. I was happy when it was over as I had been promised an ice cream for sitting quietly through it!
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Sensitive prison drama
Hollywoodshack16 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Before he became popular directing Charles Bronson films, J. Lee Thompson directed two prison movies based on books written by his future wife, Joan Henry. Glynis Johns does very well as the gambler who is framed for insurance fraud and sent to prison for one year. Here she meets the inmates who relate their stories of crimes that sent them up for time: a shoplifter, a blackmailer, and a neglectful mother. She stops one from stabbing a cruel guard and is rewarded with a transfer to a prison without walls. It's also very touching in the visitation scenes with her fiancé and doctor (John Gregson) how she feels the stigma of her sentence from the outside world. Only beef with the film I have is that there is no flashback to explain what crime her best friend, Betty (Diana Dors) did to serve two years. Her chum is desperate to find a boyfriend, Norman, that never writes or visits.
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A polite prison drama.
Voxel-Ux16 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This is a prison film by a director I personally have always admired: J Lee-Thompson. It centres around the Jean Raymond character (Glynis Johns) of a woman entering prison for fraud. I can say this without it being a spoiler because the fact she entered gaol, and why, has nothing to do with the plot (there is no plot really) except used merely as a vehicle to start the film rolling.

Once rolling, Johns meets various other female prisoners while incarcerated and to almost each one the film fades into a vignette of the "facts" that led each one to wind up in prison. It is definitely a film of its time, a strikingly clichéd British film of the '30s, '40s and early '50s style and was made with a method dying out by the mid-50's when British cinema began a darker more realistic mode of direction.

This film has nothing on many earlier American prison dramas ("20,000 Years in Sing Sing" some twenty years before for example) but the film was never intended in my opinion to be anything overtly powerful. Though there is no direct sermonising about right and wrong written into the film it was directed intentionally to make one think what prison may be like (at least for that generation) while the film rides on a very comfortable sponge through tranquil waters, despite trying to focus on rehabilitation. Very muddled.

Regrettably, the film's earlier momentum starts to fizzle out about halfway through as the vignettes continually are sugar-coated (the only possible exception is the story of the gaoled women in the infirmary involving her baby) and the acting is rather appalling with a rather dreadful ending by today's terms. Even the attempt at humour with Sid James's family is more sad than funny (perhaps that was the intention).

Not one of Lee-Thompson's best and I rate it a generous 2 out of 5 stars but is worth a single sitting as a curio.
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Very British
Uriah438 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This film concerns itself mainly with two women, "Jean Raymond" (Glynis Johns) and "Betty Brown" (Diana Dors) who are sent to prison on the same day. Jean is sentenced to one year in prison for fraud. Betty, on the other hand, is given two years in prison because she chose to take the rap for her conniving boyfriend. Naturally, there are other female convicts as well and we get to see some of their stories in a series of flashbacks. I found a couple of these stories were interesting but I will leave it to the viewer to decide for themselves which ones they may or may not find entertaining. One thing I will say, however, is that this film is very British. At least it seemed that way to me. Also, this movie is not the standard women-in-prison film one might expect to find these days. There is no sex, violence, foul language or nudity of any kind. But both Glynis Johns and Diana Dors performed in a decent manner. I also thought both ladies looked quite nice with Glynis Johns appearing the more elegant of the two. Anyway, although not necessarily a great movie it wasn't bad either and I rate it as about average all things considered.
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Prison film without hard edges
malcolmgsw29 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Glynis Johns submits meekly to prison even though shes been framed.She is accused of having falsely claimed for a stolen cigarette case.The fact that she had not been to the pawn shop and therefore couldn't have been recognised by the broker has escaped the attention of her,her lawyer,the police and the court.She is met by a glamorous Diana Dors who is doing 2 years.Everyone else seems to have no makeup except Dors.Their progress is charted through prison to open prison.there are many humorous interludes which jars with the prison scenes.its as if its a bit of a lark going to prison.There is the obligatory happy ending when John Gregson decides to chuck his good job in Rhodesia and come back to marry Glynis.Compare this film with for example "Yield To the Night" ,a far superior film starring Dors as a Ruth Ellis type of character.In that film she has no make up and is far better in the acting stakes.
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