Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Ann Francis and adorable tyke
SO YOUNG, SO BAD (1950). Director: Bernard Vorhaus.

Dr. John Jason (Paul Henreid of Between Two Worlds) is the new psychiatrist at a reformatory for girls that is run with complete disregard for these young ladies' welfare by Mr. Riggs (Cecil Clovelly) and stone-faced nurse Mrs. Beuhler (Grace Coppin). Jason tries to get support from the rather beautiful assistant superintendent Ruth Levering (Catherine McLeod), but she's too afraid of losing her job. When Jason tries to get the girls to talk about abuses to board members, they clam up, having been threatened by Riggs or Beuhler. Jason is particularly concerned with four of the young women: Loretta (Anne Francis) who tries to use sex as a weapon; Jackie (Anne Jackson), who is sullen and may have a crush on Loretta; Delores (Rita Moreno), who is pretty and shy; and Jane (Enid Pulver), who is withdrawn and needs help. Loretta wants to give up her baby boy for adoption but while she pretends to have no feelings is more emotionally involved than she lets on. So Young, So Bad was released the same year as the more famous Caged, and the two movies have many similarities [although the latter film takes place in a bonafide prison with older inmates]. SYSB is a fairly absorbing film with real attempts at characterization, and is greatly bolstered by the performances of the cast, especially Francis [Forbidden Planet], Jackson, and Moreno, all of whom would go on to have highly successful careers [Pulver did a little TV work after she completed this film]. Instead of a kitten as in Caged, the girls have a pet rabbit that gets stomped on by the abusive Beuhler. The four adult leads are all quite credible. An interesting scene has Jackie utterly collapsing into anguished tears after she sees Loretta bonding with her baby, as if she feels left out or is suffering from lesbian heartbreak. Vorhaus also directed The Affairs of Jimmy Valentine. Henreid later directed movies somewhat similar to this one.

Verdict: Some very good acting helps put this over. ***.

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