19 November 2015 | dougdoepke
Juvenile Delinquents Menace Suburbia
Catch that opening. Looks like the movie wants "wild" right up front. Teen hoodlums led by Braden (Marlowe) bounce off people at the drive-in like berserk pinballs. From the git-go, it's hard to see how these characters are still on the loose. But then the only thing 1950's middle-class Americans feared more than Hollywood's juvenile delinquents was the spread of the Red Menace.
In that same vein, Marlowe makes a truly detestable sneering punk. Along with Richard Bakalyan, he qualifies as a punk super-star from the 50's. Here, Braden and his two buddies terrorize the sweet teen-age Valerie (Kearney), her boyfriend Jerry (Arthur), and her mom and dad. Trouble is that on a reckless spree, the hoodlums hit-and-run an old woman, and now the cops want them. But will the terrorized Valerie and Jerry testify against them. That's the crux.
Actor Evans brings uncommon sensitivity to the role of detective-sergeant on Braden's trail. It's real testimony to his professionalism that he would perform so ably in a teen flick like this. I hope there's a special place in Hollywood heaven for actors like him. And catch Weston Gavin mugging it up as hoodlum Allie (I think). I kept confusing his looks with In Cold Blood's (1967) Robert Blake. There is a strong resemblance.
Veteran director Witney manages to keep things moving, while I'm still savoring that testy exchange between the lordly Morris Ankrum (the captain) and the calmly effective Evans. It's a nifty little dust-up. And speaking of adults, catch veteran radio voice Wendell Holmes as the unprincipled alibi provider. I still remember him from the 1940's Mr. District Attorney.
Anyway, the movie amounts to an engaging little teen flick distinguished by a good cast, and on the whole, better than I expected.