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Whatever happened to juvenile delinquents?

I made a rare trip to the movie theater today and saw X-Men: First Class.  It was worth the excursion.  It was well-made and entertaining, with a story that serves as a prequel to the other X-Men movies, but is not truly more of a reboot.  It isn’t very difficult to find all sorts of contradictions when comparing to the other movies, but who cares?  This was a fun flick (enhanced by some clever cameos):  it gets an 8 out of 10 for both quality and fun.

Now as to the title of my blog.  Among my many weekend movies, I saw a double-feature from Something Weird Video:  Teen-Age Strangler and Teenage Gang Debs.  This pair of flicks came from the mid-1960s, towards the end of the juvenile delinquent movie era (soon to be succeeded by the new threat of hippies). 

I’d seen Teen-Age Strangler before, as it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and it is well worth all the jibes a man and two robots can throw at it.  Clocking in at just over an hour, it’s the story of a mysterious killer preying on teenage girls.  Could it be one of the boys in the local drag-racing gang?  Since this is supposed to be a teen movie, you gotta have a song and this one features “Yipes Stripes”, a tune about the virtues of wearing stripes.  The singer performs in a coffee shop with her guitarist partner, and he is good:  when he plays, you not only hear a guitar but a complete band.  I don’t know how he did it.  Teen-Age Strangler also has the whiniest character ever put on film, a kid brother who is ready to burst into tears all the time!  This gets a 2/10 for quality but 6/10 for fun.

There are actually very few delinquents in Teen-Age Strangler, but Teenage Gang Debs has almost nothing but delinquents.  This is the saga of scheming Manhattan girl Terry who moves to Brooklyn and starts taking over a gang.  She hooks up with the club president, and then arranges to have his second-in-command, Nico, take over.  She replaces Nico’s girl and makes sure her predecessor is gang-raped before being kicked out the door.  Of course, anyone this bad will eventually get her comeuppance.  There are rumbles and fights and just general nastiness in this movie.  It gets 4/10 for quality, 5/10 for fun.

As stated above, by the end of the ’60s, the juvenile delinquent seemed to have disappeared, replaced by new teenage perils.  So maybe they aren’t called  j.d.s today, but as shown in Harry Brown, they still exist.  This British film from a couple years ago as Michael Caine as an ex-soldier taking on the local hoodlums after they kill his only friend.  It’s essentially Death Wish for seniors, but Caine makes it more than a vigilante exploitation flick.  The bad guys are so nasty and the overall feel is so bleak that it’s kind of uncomfortable:  hence this gets a quality score of 8/10, but only a fun score of 6/10.


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