1 November 2011 | bkoganbing
Another Tough Kid Gets Redeemed
After two bit parts in other films Audie Murphy got his first starring role in Bad Boy, an Allied Artists film where the 24 year old Murphy plays a teenage kid going down the wrong path in life. It was the beginning of a film career where Audie Murphy traded in on his youthful appearance for years, mostly in westerns.
After attempting to pull off a holdup of some high rollers at a swank Dallas hotel where his partner William Leicester shot and wounded one of them, Murphy is given a break and sent to the Variety Club Boys Ranch run by Lloyd Nolan and his wife Jane Wyatt. They are assisted by the cynical James Gleason, but Nolan subscribes to the Father Flanagan philosophy that their ain't no such thing as a Bad Boy.
At the ranch Murphy's got the same problems as Mickey Rooney at Boys Town and doesn't interact well with other Hollywood juveniles like Stanley Clements, Jimmy Lydon and Tommy Cook. In fact the only one who Murphy warms up to is Wyatt.
Nolan does some digging to find the root causes of Murphy's anti-social behavior. The story line has it can he discover them and redeem Murphy before he does something that puts him way out beyond deserving to be redeemed?
Two people I wish had gotten more screen time were Murphy's stepfather and stepsister Rhys Williams and Martha Vickers. Williams is what you would now call a motivational speaker and quack psychologist and his attitudes are the root causes of Murphy's problems. Also Selena Royle who would shortly have blacklisting problems plays a sympathetic judge who goes way out on a limb for Audie.
Given that this is a cheap B film from Allied Artists, Bad Boy is surprisingly good. Murphy shows what a natural he is before the camera and the rest of the cast supports him well.