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  • Ninety-percent of this film is a well-made, exciting white slavery melodrama about a German girl lured to Brazil for "modeling" work but trapped in a white slavery racket. She turns to an American engineer working in Rio (Scott Brady) who initially asks for help from a powerful Brazilian industrialist, Jaime Coltos (Raymond Burr), but soon suspects that Coltos is not exactly what he appears to be. That's all developed well and acted convincingly by Burr, Brady, and newcomer Johanna Matz. Then there is a frame story explained in a talky prologue about how Coltos almost led Southern Brazil to secede from the rest of the country and how Coltos, modeling himself after Jefferson Davis and Aaron Burr (!!!) was a brilliant strategist and almost a dictator. And at the end of the film, after the white slavery plot has been resolved and you think the film is over, we go back to the two characters in the frame story--a general and an American reporter--and we learn that Coltos was eventually found guilty of high treason and sentenced to hard labor for life. While Raymond Burr's character may be a crook and control a corrupt machine, there doesn't seem to be anything "political" about his actions in the film. I wonder if the frame story was added after the fact? And I wonder why? In any event, this little-known entry in the Raymond Burr filmography is worth seeking out. Coincidentally, it was one of the last releases of Lippert Pictures, the interesting low-budget company that was a kind of PRC of the late 40s and early 50s. Lippert always padded its release schedule with imported films, including a number of excellent UK and continental crime/mystery films, some featuring American stars, and as the studio wound down to its end, more and more foreign films appeared. My review has been of the US release of this film, entitled THEY WERE SO YOUNG (AND SO IN DANGER). Perhaps someone who has the original German language version could tell us if the frame story exists in the original, or if there were political elements in the main plot that were cut out for the American release.
  • Handlinghandel29 January 2008
    This was presented to me as a film noir. It is not. It's an international cast in a flimsily plotted low-budget melodrama.

    Raymond Burr is an icon of the second half of the last century because of his work in "Perry Mason." We noir fanatics know him also to have done some excellent work on the other side of the law in movies. If this was the direction his film career was going, "Perry Mason" kept him from ending up in Doris Wishman flicks.

    The plot is a hodgepodge about prostitution and white slavery in Brazil. The German actress who gets top billing is attractive. Scott Brady is in it, too. He plays a good guy.

    At first I thought this was my imagination. Then I noticed it with more than Ms. Matz and Brady: The actors often seem to be holding back laughter. They have constant half-smiles.

    It's not so bad it's good, though. It isn't offensive. It simply offends the upstanding name of film noir.
  • They Were So Young (1954)

    An early widescreen movie. It's low budget (showing how mainstream the format had become this first full year of its use), but has some terrific scenes and a fun twist of a plot about a scheme to trap young European girls into a modeling gig in Rio that turns into a kind of prostitution slave-girl trade.

    The big star is Raymond Burr, who is excellent in his brief appearances, but the main man is a likable Scott Brady, who is an archetypal nice guy American who sees trouble in this foreign land and saves the damsels who would otherwise perish. It's an odd twist that the bad guys in Brazil are actually American, too (Burr), but that's probably good, not to typecast the South Americans as the bad guys.

    Director Kurt Neumann is famous for the idiosyncratic and important original version of "The Fly" as well as the notoriously awful "She-Demon." The long list of his films includes a lot of dregs, including a series of half-length movies (called streamliners) that were super low budget fillers. But because of all this work he was an experienced pro by 1954, and adapted to the wide screen exotic scenario here pretty well. The story, however streamlined itself, is a believable and frightening one. If the outcome is too predictable, that's true with half of Hollywood, so just go for the ride.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Several beautiful European models answer ads for high paying jobs in Rio De Janerio. This is a tawdry melodrama having the young women falling victims of a modeling agency ran by Mme. Lansowa(Gisela Fackeldey). They are required by contract to not only model, but pleasure rich men taking advantage of the South American sex market. The women have had their passports taken from them as well as all identity. They are caught in the trap of "white Slavery". One young woman, Eve (Johanna Matz), is rescued by Richard Lanning(Scott Brady), an engineer employed by tycoon Jaime Coltos(Raymond Burr). But who actually is the leader of the sex for hire organization? Is it Pasquale(Kurl Meisel), Garza(Gordon Howard), Mme Lansowa; or someone else? The cast includes: Ingrid Stern, Hanita Hallan, Elizabeth Tanney, Katherine Mayberg and Gert Frobe.
  • They Were So Young (aka: Violated, aka: Party Girls For Sale) is an exotic and entertaining late film noir (broadly speaking), set in Brazil, produced in Germany, and featuring second-tier American stars Scott Brady and Raymond Burr. Apparently American pictures were so popular abroad in the 1950's, a couple of Hollywood players at the top of the bill, even lesser lights like Brady and Burr) would ensure better box office both over there and over here. In the English-dubbed version it's obvious only the two American actors are actually speaking English, and were no doubt dubbed over in the original German. Not that you ever forget this is a German production! Most of the characters have Portuguese sounding names but look about as Brazilian as sauerkraut. Michael Jary's full-bodied score sounds like Wagner frolicking about South America. But it works for the best, as all the villains except for Burr are played by Germans such as Gert Forbe. And those Teutonic types -- let's face it, they're not good at anything if not good at sinister! A kinky middle-age dame with the mouth-full handle of Gisela Fackeldey plays a menacing madam in charge of the exploited models to which the title refers. If she had still been in the pink in the 1970's, she would have been the perfect cruel women's SS camp commandant in that shabby species of exploitation films.

    This movie teaches two basic morals. Numer one, some guys are turned on by getting crowned on the head with a water decanter. You will have to watch the picture to discover how that one works. Number two is stated in the above summary. Watch out for newspaper ads that promise too much! That's how a covey of pretty and shapely young models are lured to Rio De Janeiro, supposedly to model high-class duds, but in reality to become high-class call girls. Nasty things happen to those unfortunate lasses who try to back out. Our heroine, very comely Johanna Matz, is more determined than most. She enlists the aid of good guy Brady, a mining engineer in Rio looking for a good time. Follows an action-filled, suspenseful and atmospheric adventure in jungle roads, rivers, and villas. Particularly atmospheric and exciting are the climactic scenes on board and around a broken-down tub of a river boat, which is actually a sleazy floating bordello.

    Too much ink has been vainly spilled over whether this picture, or various others, qualifies as a film noir. A noir picture does not have to have starkly shadowed and obliquely angled cinematography, or a femme fa-tale, or a morally ambiguous protagonist, though all of these elements are frequently seen. A dark, seamy story will do. But then the more discerning cinema critics confess that "noir" is not actually a genre but more of a style or better yet a mood. It springs from the dark, doom-laden, uncertain, bitter-sweet, dream-like -- even nightmarish -- ambiance of the 1940's. In that decade almost every Hollywood picture produced reflects at least a touch of that mood, even the Westerns. It bleeds into the early 1950's, but it was fading by the time of They Were So Young. Though the term "film noir" was hardly even known to movie makers or audiences of the time, who knew these pictures simply a "melodramas" or "thrillers", it may well be that film-makers in Europe at least, such as They Were So Young's producer/director Kurt Neuman were self-consciously attempting to capture the mood.

    They Were So Young captures enough of the noir mood and has enough of the traditional noir elements that it can't be said VCI Entertainment misrepresents the case including the picture in its nicely restored "Forgotten Noir Double Feature" DVD. Attractive lead players, stalwart villainy, atmospheric, suspenseful and entertaining. Better than many of the similar Hollywood efforts of the time, I regret to say.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The international white slave traffic is the subject of this Lippert Production, They Were So Young. Well at least the women dealt with in this film are legal in any country. I'm betting that title was a hook to draw in the customers who were expecting a bunch of Lolitas.

    Set in Rio De Janeiro, but shot in Hollywood, They Were So Young has a bunch of women from around the world coming there answering an advertisement thinking they'll be models. In fact the blind in front of the brothel is a fashion show. But it ain't dresses these men out front are buying.

    Scott Brady who works for rich Brazilian mine owner Raymond Burr is brought in after months in the Amazon up country for a little relaxation. But new 'model' Johanna Matz doesn't have the rules down straight and she slaps his face. Then when the facts of life are explained to her, she balks and starts making trouble.

    But when trouble visits her, who you going to call? Why that nice American you left feeling a little deprived that night. And it actually works because beneath the heart of a miner in need is a hero.

    But who does Brady take her to, why his boss Burr whom he does not know is heavily involved in the prostitution trade.

    If you think this plot description is silly, well the film is just as silly even more so. Raymond Burr who always is good in some really horrible junk can't even make this one minutely believable. And this company did not even get a trip to Rio for their work.

    Pass this silly stuff by folks.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film is from a DVD collection entitled "Forgotten Film Noir". However, I really have a hard time calling this film an example of noir. While it DOES involve crime, the style seems to have almost nothing to do with this genre. There are no dark camera angles, snappy or gritty dialog or grimness you'd expect. Instead, it's a multi-national cast in a film about models who are brought to Brazil--only to find they're being forced into prostitution. However, one of the girls won't give in--not without a fight. She repeatedly escapes until she meets up with a sympathetic man who is willing to help. The problem, however, is that neither of them know exactly who the good guys are and who is also in league with the white slavers.

    So if this isn't noir, what is it? Well, it's less of a crime film and more of a cross-country adventure sort of movie. So, even if it features Raymond Burr (a very familiar noir heavy), this just isn't noir. And speaking of Burr, why is it that practically no one in this film seems to be Brazilian?! Burr isn't the only one but one of many from many nations in this film.

    So, even if it isn't noir, is it worth seeing? Well, yes. I thought it was actually a pretty decent film--especially since scams that suck women into sex slavery have been a problem for years. And, hopefully, some young ladies saw this film and it steered them clear of sleazy operators abroad.
  • An American engineer helps a German girl escape the clutches of a white slavery ring in South America.

    The movie's a peculiar production. The origin appears West German since the names in the credit crawl are German, while the cast, except for Brady, is also German. I guess the film was released here by Lindsley Parsons' low-budget outfit. All in all, the package seems odd since not many English-language films came from West Germany during this post-war period.

    Anyway, the result plays like an exploitation movie with its tawdry subject-matter (notice all the euphemisms used for the taboo word "prostitute"), plus a suggestive title that, as I recall, was heavily promoted at the time. The opening part in the city plays pretty well, but once the action moves inland, the screenplay becomes darn near incoherent with its shifting locales minus connecting segues.

    Still, Matz is a spunky little number, reminding me of Debbie Reynolds with an accent, while Brady delivers a surprisingly spirited performance as the white knight. Burr turns up in a sinister role so typical of his pre-Perry Mason period; at the same time, his jumbo tropical suit suggests a younger version of the great Sydney Greenstreet.

    The movie has a few good moments and some suspense, but on the whole fails to rise above the level of exotic sleaze.