I only had vague recollections of "Blue Denim" from my seeing it as a teenager over 40 years ago, but I did recall that it stuck with me all these years as an important memory of my eventually "reaching 18 and knowing everything." (Carol Lynley line) I watched it again today, and it brought back pleasant memories.
Sound and photography were not what they are now. Microphones were relatively insensitive, so all the characters sound like they are on stage, talking to the back of the auditorium. Camera angles were stock, and camera panning or changing elevation during a scene was unknown. By today's standards the script is dated and simplistic. It was much easier back then for a teenager to "act rude" to parents.
SPOILERS - This 90-minute film plays out much like an "Ozzie and Harriet" episode, but one they never would have shown. Art (Brandon DeWilde) and Ernie (Warren Berlinger, the best actor here) are high school buddies who act big by playing poker, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, and "cussing" (used 'damn' a lot) in Art's basement that has a door directly to the outside. Janet (Carol Lynley) and Art like each other, find themselves alone in a corner of the basement, and the next thing we know she is in the library reading a chapter titled "Pregnancy." "But they don't tell you how to make it go away", she pines.
Ernie is the mature one through all this. He tells Art "You gotta talk to your parents, don't be afraid. You can't help her have an abortion, that's murder." Art doesn't want the burden of thinking about that, but finally tries to talk to mom, then dad, but they are so wrapped up in older daughter's wedding plans that they never let him have his say.
Art and Ernie find a man in a bar who can arrange a back-room abortion at a secluded house in the woods, but they need to raise $150, a lot more difficult in the 50s. The last $92 they get by forging Art's dad's signature to a blank check. Janet is taken away in the night, blindfolded, accompanied by a woman who looks a bit like the wicked witch of the west.
The wedding happens, dad becomes aware of the $92 check, confronts Art, gets the whole story, in the best quick scene dad literally grabs and pulls the bartender half-way over the bar to get him to reveal the location of the girl, they arrive in time, she is sedated but fine, they take her home, her dad is angry, his dad is angry, his mom concludes "we never gave him a chance to talk to us."
Finding out that Janet was put on a train to go away and have her baby, which was the norm back then, Art finds out, dad says "here,you'll need this money, and permission to get married." The film ends as Art finds Janet at the first train stop, he sits, they hug, and we know they will live happily ever after as gas station attendants instead of the doctors, lawyers, or engineers they could have become if they had not foolishly done the "sex" thing.
The whole story is a morality play for teenagers. Sex is tempting, you don't know everything at 17, backroom abortions are dangerous, abortions are murder, you put your lives in a straightjacket and virtually give up your dreams of college and a better life. By today's standards this would be a very poor film, but for its time was very risque' I recall, and a fairly popular movie. Inconsistent, for me, was how quickly the parents went from an angry mode to "you need permission to marry her", as if they were saying marriage solves everything, even though you're not even 18 yet and there is a shotgun involved.
Carol Lynley has first billing and she sure was a cute, sexy starlet when this film was made. She had the looks, and acted well enough, I still wonder why she wasn't a bigger star. This will always remain the film that influenced my formation as a teenager, I'm glad I now have my own copy on VHS.