I disagree with the person who said the story line of "That Hagen Girl" is "totally improbable." Scandals involving premarital and extramarital sex and illegitimate children were prevalent in small towns in the 1940s and still are. Also, in the 1940-1960s many small towns (including the one where I grew up) still had an influential white collar class of people who acted and dressed exactly like the characters in "That Hagen Girl." As for the Ken Freneau character being a spineless Mama's boy, there are people of this sort in every generation and in every community. I grew up in a small town in Indiana where my ancestors were the founders, and I moved back here after living in a big city for a few years. "That Hagen Girl" does an excellent job of depicting the nature and the populace of small towns in the Midwest.
I believe the film was not appreciated initially because it was ahead of its time, for all that it presented social issues in a very tasteful and diplomatic way. No one has mentioned the mental illness of Grace (the high school girl friend of Tom Bates) or the reason for her condition. I believe the film implied that Grace's parents had pressured her to avoid scandal by having an abortion in Chicago and that afterward Grace was treated for a mental and emotional breakdown during the months she was absent from home. The Tom Bates character also hinted to Mary Hagen that Grace's "going away" and subsequent months in a psychiatric facility were the "reason" Mary could not be the illegitimate child he and Grace were suspected of conceiving.
"That Hagen Girl" is very much like "Peyton Place," another film that shows the dark side of a small town. I believe "That Hagen Girl" is an equally well-written and well-acted film that deals with serious social problems. The film's tasteful approach to moral problems is what I would like to see in today's films. -- Mrs. Barney Beers
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