Thursday, September 25, 2008


With the exception of the fabulous Mamie Van Doren B-film GIRLS TOWN, I'm not a fan of the juvenile delinquent movies that Hollywood cranked out in the 50's (in addition to a handful which came out in the depression years). However, it's interesting to find out that the British were doing this kind of thing in the postwar era. The main narrative is framed as a warning tale told to a new delinquent girl (a very young Diana Dors) by the Head of the Juvenile Board (Flora Robson). Jean Kent plays the title character, a lower-class teenager who is fired from a job at a pawnbroker's for "borrowing" a piece of jewelry; when her dad beats her up, she runs away, gets an apartment, and falls in with slimy Peter Glenville who helps her get a job as a hat check girl at a rather rough night club run by Herbert Lom. She does a favor for Glenville when she runs an errand for him involving pawning some jewels, but later he beats her up when she won't sleep with him. A musician (Dennis Price) takes a paternal interest in her and lets her stay with him until she finds another place. However, it turns out that the pawned jewels were stolen and, as it's her word against Glenville's, she's sentenced to three years in reform school. Kent has a bad attitude about her surroundings until she becomes buddies with Jill Balcom, the "good conduct girl," who teaches her how to get away with things under the noses of the matrons. When another girl snitches on Kent and a fight breaks out, Kent escapes, goes back to the big city and falls in with handsome but mean mobster Griffin Jones, who, in the film's best scene, tries to strangle her in a train compartment. Things go even further downhill from there until a last meeting with Price ends in tragedy. The title seems a bit off for two reasons: 1) poor Kent is never seen having a very good time at all; 2) though she's supposed to be 16, Kent looked much closer to her actual age of 27, and reform school friend Balcom looks closer to 30. Aside from Lom and Jones, no one else gets a chance to stand out. Rather drab, with its murky noirish look the most compelling thing on display. [TCM]

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