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Return of the j.d.’s

Following up on my earlier post about juvenile delinquents, I have watched another pair of movies from the Something Weird Video archives:  Jacktown and Lost, Lonely and Vicious

Actually, Lost, Lonely and Vicious (1957) is not about juvenile delinquents, but a different J.D.: lead character Johnnie Dennis, who is a thinly-disguised stand-in for yet another J.D., James Dean.  Dennis is a young (at least figuratively; the guy who plays him looks like a well-weathered 40) actor who has hit it big with his first motion picture.  He is getting all sorts of Oscar buzz, but he’d much rather mope around and wonder what life is all about.  Is he doomed to die in a fiery crash, or will the love of a good girl redeem him?  This is almost a good movie, but the direction is heavy-handed and much of the movie is too talky, as if it were some sort of play adaptation (though I can find no clue that this is the case).  On the plus side, the female lead is Barbara Wilson, who is easy on the eyes and who I also liked in the cheesy Swedish monster movie Terror in the Midnight Sun (Americanized as Invasion of the Animal People).  Quality: 4/10.  Fun: 4/10.

Jacktown (1962) is a juvenile delinquent flick, with aspiring hoodlum Frankie Stossel sent to prison on a statutory rape charge.  It seems the girl he was dating was not as old as she says she was.  In prison, he deals with some minor hassling before he is taken under the warden’s wing.  The warden sets up Frankie as his personal gardener where things work out okay, at least until the warden’s daughter starts hitting on him.  The warden doesn’t like this and reassigns Frankie, who – given an opportunity – will run away and find the daughter.  Don’t worry.  It all ends happily enough.  Frankie serves his time and becomes a productive member of society (or so the Rod Serling like narration assures us).  The daughter is the big star of this film, played by former Bad Seed Patty McCormack.  This one runs less than an hour and is around the equal of its companion piece:  once again, Quality: 4/10, Fun: 4/10.

Since this is a Something Weird DVD, there are some fun little extras, including some movie trailers.  The novelty here is one for The Cry-Baby Killer because it is Jack Nicholson’s first movie.  There are also some interesting short subjects.  Crisis in Morality posits that sin is washing over the country with a laughably earnest self-righteousness. 

More entertaining is Hell is a Place Called Hollywood (1950).  It’s about a small-town beauty queen who wins a trip to Hollywood to star in a movie that turns out to be a cheap nudie flick.  They show this film, making me think that this is seemingly cautionary tale is really just an excuse to flash a bit of T&A.  But that’s it, nudity-wise.  The girl finds she can’t get any more roles and resorts to nude modeling (in which nothing is shown) until she is no longer the flavor of the month and she finds herself broke and homeless.  The third short, Little Miss Delinquent is a rather tired story of a bratty teen and her overly permissive parents.  The girl is institutionalized after being bad, but it’s never really clear what she’s done.

Outside of Crisis in Morality, I’m sure these films were designed to appeal more to youths than adults, despite their so-called messages.  Since, as I’ve stated before, we seem to not have juvenile delinquents anymore (at least by that name), maybe the messages worked.  Yeah, right.


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