9 user 1 critic

Because They're Young (1960)

| Drama | April 1960 (USA)
A new high school teacher tries to help troubled students and falls in love with the principal's secretary.



Won 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
... Neil Hendry
... Joan Dietrich
... Griff Rimer
... Anne Gregor
... Buddy McCalla
... Richelle 'Ricky' Summers
... Jim Trent
... Himself - Guitarist (also as Duane Eddy and the Rebels)
... Himself - Singer
... Frances McCalla
... Patcher
Rudy Bond ... Chris
Wendell Holmes ... Principal Donlan
... Mr. Rimer
Bart Patton ... Michael Kramer


Neil Hendry is the new high school teacher in town, but he is still haunted by a tragic event in his past. However, his friendly, casual style wins the hearts of some of the school's more troubled teens, as well as the principal's secretary. He is able to positively help them both in and out of school. But these same attributes make him an enemy of the principal, who discourages such close relationships between teachers and students. Written by <jgp3553@excite.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »


THIS IS YOUTH...the real and revealing story of today's teenagers! See more »




See all certifications »




Release Date:

April 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Porque son jóvenes  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title song was not written by John Williams but Don Costa, with lyrics by Aaron Schröder and Wally Gold. The song "Because They're Young" was released by Duane Eddy and became one of the rare all-instrumental hits of the era, going to #4 on the American charts in the summer of 1960. The combination of Duane Eddy's "twang" guitar style and string orchestration was a different one for Eddy and it ironically became the biggest hit of his career. His version of the title song was not the version used in the movie; an anonymous orchestra played the instrumental version over the opening credits, and James Darren sang the vocal version. Duane Eddy and the Rebels performed "Shazam" in the movie. Darren didn't hit it big as a singer until a year and a half after this movie came out, when he hit the top 10 with "Goodbye Cruel World." See more »


Eddy's guitar is amplified even though it is not connected to an amplifier. See more »


Featured in Heavy Petting (1989) See more »


Written by Duane Eddy and Lee Hazlewood (as Lee Hazelwood)
Performed by Duane Eddy
See more »

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User Reviews

Fascinating because of its noir ambiance and homosexual subtext
6 July 2000 | by See all my reviews

I first saw this film on April 29, 1960, during its original release (I kept movie notes even then), not because I was a fan of Dick Clark's but because I'd read and liked very much Harrison High, the novel from which the film was taken. In 1960, I was very disappointed in the film because the film made the novel's adolescent characters supporting characters and focused instead on Neil Hendry (Clark), a teacher and minor character in the novel. This transformation was a result of Dick Clark's involvement in the development of this film and because, in 1960, Clark's name was the biggest one in the cast.

There were two major things that caught my attention when I saw the film this time, more than forty years after my original viewing of it.

First was the lighting.

The film starts out well lit, but grows darker as it goes along. Perhaps this was director Paul Wendkos' way of indicating the dark nature of the events that occurred as the film progressed. In essence, "Because They're Young" ends up with classic noir lighting.

The entire scene of the robbery at the warehouse, which involves Chris, Patcher and Griff, is filmed in classic low-key noir lighting, which is appropriate to the action that is occurring.

During the film's climax, there is a scene where Patcher is searching for Griff in one of the school's science labs. All of the blinds in the classroom are closed, though some bars of light do come through the closed blinds, and these bars of light are shown against Griff in the opening part of the scene. Then Patcher enters the room, searching for Griff. He passes by each of the classroom's windows, opening the blinds to admit more light, thereby throwing unto the opposite wall the classic noir image of light slashed into lines by the blinds. When he finally gets all of the blinds open, Patcher turns to see Griff Rimer against the opposite wall, standing as if imprisoned by the bars of light.

Other details of noir exist but limitations of space prevent my detailing them. I'm surprised that someone hasn't called "Because They're Young" the first teenage noir film, what with critics' eagerness today to use the term noir.

The second thing that riveted my attention was the butcher Chris, who is clearly homosexual and something of a sadist as well. For most teenagers in 1960, this homosexual subtext would have passed them by. It obviously passed over the heads of The Production Code censors. But there certainly would have been a group of male teens who would have known from their own experience what was going on between Chris and his boys.

Chris is a butcher in the grocery store where Griff (Michael Callan) works after school. In a scene where a detective enters the store and asks for the manager, Chris suspects he may be after Griff, who has been stealing cartons of cigarettes, so Chris deflects the detective to another boy who has been stealing six packs of beer.

After that moment, Chris and Griff are alone together in a back room behind the butcher counter. Griff thinks he's safe now from the detective and is pretty light and airy with Chris. Suddenly, Chris slaps Griff a stinging blow in the face and tells him he knows that Griff is stealing cigarettes, too, but that he decided to spare Griff while giving the detective the other boy. This slap is a sobering moment for Griff--and an eye-opener for the audience--who knows better than to deny his theft.

Having quickly tamed Griff, Chris takes a friendlier attitude toward him. And this involves his touching Griff. Indeed, Chris can't keep his hands off this hot hunk for the rest of the film. He tells Griff that he can even borrow his car, if he wants to. Just drop by my apartment and I'll give you the keys. But throughout this scene, Chris is wielding a dangerous meat cleaver, which he viciously embeds in a meat carcass at the end of the scene. Chris's unpredicted slap to Griff and that meat cleaver give this scene an eerie sense of suspense and tension.

In a later scene when Griff goes to Chris's apartment, he sees that Patcher is there concluding some business with Chris. What kind of business? Well, it's not specified, but Chris gives Patcher money, and Patcher asks some questions about when the next time will be. One doesn't have to be depraved to interpret this scene as one following a possible sexual liaison between Chris and Patcher, tho later events make clear Patcher is Chris's partner in crime.

Chris is in his later 40s, but his bachelor "pad" is a 50's adolescent's fantasy. The main feature is a well-stocked bar and an expensive hi-fi set, playing a jazz record. There are pictures of women on the wall near the bar, the nearest the film could come back then to Playboy-type centerfolds. The entire apartment is a den into which Chris can lure his boys, give them booze, and heat up their libidos with the photos of the women. When they're hot, there's Chris willing to---do what?

Throughout all of the scenes between Griff and Chris, Chris's hands are busy all over Griff. He's patting his back, rubbing his hand along the side of Griff's chest, outlining Griff's chin with his forefinger, cupping Griff's head in his hands, reaching out and pulling Griff close to him, so close in one scene their cheeks touch--the nearest this film can bring them to a kiss.

I'm sure Paul Wendkos directed actor Rudy Bond to play Chris this way. What was Wendkos thinking of, subverting a Dick Clark film like this? Love it!

Limitations of space prevent me from going into more detail about the noir ambiance and the homosexual subtext and many other items of interest about other plot events and the actors. I've written a long article about this film and would be happy to e-mail it to anyone who's interested.

Certainly not an innocuous teen flick! Have a look with your eyes open this time.

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