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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Arizona Bushwhackers (Paramount, 1968)

Farewell, Lesley Selander, and thanks

One of my favorites of the Westerns that producer AC Lyles made in the 1960s, the ones starring aging actors well known for their 50s oaters, is Arizona Bushwhackers, which was made back-to-back with Buckskin (with Barry Sullivan). Arizona Bushwhackers was released in March ’68 and Buckskin in May of that year. They were the last of the Lyles ‘geezer’ Westerns for Paramount – though in 1975 there would be a TV movie following the same formula, The Last Day, with Richard Widmark.

The great thing about these pictures was not their production values (budgets were limited) or originality (far from it) but the casts. The leads were such figures as Dana Andrews, John Ireland, George Montgomery, Dale Robertson and Rory Calhoun, who were more than competent – in fact talented – Western actors. Unfortunately, though, Lyles used Howard Keel for three of them, and Keel was not in the same class.

Having said that, to be fair, Keel was not at all bad in Arizona Bushwhackers as the tough sheriff who is also secretly a Confederate agent (it’s 1865). It was probably his best Western performance (not that that is saying much).

Howard is the new lawman

His co-star is once again Yvonne De Carlo, not my favorite leading lady in Westerns I must admit, but once again she does a reasonable job. She plays Jill, a (rather unconvincing) Confederate spy posing as a respectable milliner in the town, who is supposed to make contact with the new sheriff and tell him where a big supply of arms and ammunition, desperately needed by the Confederacy, is hidden. She explains her lack of Southern-belle accent by saying she was born in the North but brought up in South Carolina. She was indeed born in the North (Vancouver, Canada to be precise).

Deputy Ireland wants milliner De Carlo

The saucier dame, the saloon moll Molly, is supposed to be a Southerner from N’Orleans, with an accent, though this inflexion is from the deep south of Iowa, because it’s blonde Marilyn Maxwell, the less talented perhaps of the two Marilyn sex symbols of the 50s. She only did a couple of Western features and a few TV shows.

The new sheriff romances saloon gal Maxwell

So once again it’s not really the leads that distinguish this Western. It’s the supporting cast of character actors. We have John Ireland as the one-armed Reb-hating deputy, good old Barton MacLane as the sheriff on the take, Scott Brady as the crooked saloon owner who gives out the bribes, James Craig as badman Ike Clanton and Brian Donlevy as the frock-coated mayor. It’s an excellent line-up and very much in tune with Lyles’s formula of using well-known Western stars from the 40s and 50s.

Old Sheriff Barton is on his way out

Another reason I like this movie is because it was directed by Lesley Selander, the B-Western fan’s hero, who specialized in bringing low-budget oaters to life with pace and action. Actually, it was Selander’s last Western - indeed, his last film. He ended his eminent career in the genre by directing 45 episodes of Laramie and a handful of Lyles features. It was an illustrious CV which had started with his work as second unit director on a silent Buck Jones flick in 1925 and included, by the end, close to 200 Westerns. Respect.

Lesley Selander the Great

The screenplay was by Steve Fisher, Lyles’s go-to writer for these pictures, a fellow who bashed out large numbers of TV shows on his typewriter but also did some big-screen Westerns – not bad ones, either: the likes of The Quick Gun with Audie Murphy, Noose for a Gunman with Jim Davis, The Restless Breed, also with Scott Brady, and others.

Writer Fisher

Arizona Bushwhackers is narrated by James Cagney (uncredited but unmistakable) and we have a debutant Roy Rogers Jr. in a small (and actually rather pointless and irrelevant) part, and Regis Parton (billed as Reg) as henchman Curly and also stunt-doubling Keel.

The opening scenes are of booming cannons and we are told that the Civil War is raging and the military prisons of both sides are bulging, so Abe Lincoln allows Reb POWs to enlist in the Union army to serve out West, fighting Indians or even occasionally bringing law ‘n’ order to wide-open frontier towns. Thus stocky Lee Travis (Keel), former riverboat gambler and gunslinger, is wearing Union blue when he rides to Colton, Arizona, a town treed by crooked saloon owner Tom Rile (Brady) who has the corrupt sheriff (MacLane) in his pocket. Travis is to kick out the lawman, pin on the star himself and make the community a bit more law-abidin’.

Scott Brady is the crooked saloon owner

The snag is that Rile doesn’t care for this notion at all, so he sends out a few henchmen (Craig as Ike Clanton, Parton as Curly and Eric Cody as Jones) to bushwhack (hence the title) the new peace officer, and then the town will be able return to the old corrupt ways.

Good idea, you may think. However, the resourceful Travis is a match for the thugs. He changes clothes with Clanton so that the other two malefactors confuse the two and shoot down the wrong guy, viz. their accomplice Ike. Yes, I know Ike Clanton wasn’t killed in 1865 but survived even the gunfight at the OK Corral and was shot dead by detective Jonas V Brighton in September 1887 near Springerville. But we don’t watch Westerns for historical accuracy, now do we?

So Sheriff Travis takes charge in Colton and ex-Sheriff Grover (MacLane) is obliged to quit town. He was ready to, actually, being disgusted at himself for taking bribes from Rile.

Travis thinks that Southerner Molly must be his contact but when she doesn’t respond to the password he realizes he’s wrong. It’s demure milliner Jill who’s the one. Once they get that awkwardness ironed out, the new sheriff and the storekeeper decide to pretend to be lovers so they can associate with each other. As was bound to happen, though, the pretense soon becomes reality. Though the sheriff was rather taken with saloon gal Molly…

Donlevy is the mayor (briefly)

This is where Roy Jr. appears, pointlessly, so announce pompously that he hates Rebs and doesn’t drink. Then he departs. It was his first and last part in a Western.

Deputy Dan Shelby (Ireland) holds a candle for the hat-maker so now he has a double reason to hate the new sheriff: he’s a stinkin’ Reb and he’s wooing Deputy Dan’s flame. So he keeps a close eye on the lawman and it isn’t long before he rumbles that the couple are in cahoots in a dastardly Confederate plot.

The new sheriff, a consummate gambler, now wins the saloon from Rile at dice and the discomfited erstwhile owner is obliged to skedaddle.

The new sheriff wins the whole saloon at craps
Now, it appears that before losing his livelihood to the sheriff, slimy saloon owner Rile had discovered those hidden guns in an abandoned warehouse on the edge of town and, shock horror, has been selling them to some renegade Apaches. As you know, providing Indians with rifles in Westerns was a crime considerably worse on the scale of awfulness than cannibalism or matricide.

So it’s all building up to an exciting climax. There’s a curious bit where Sheriff Travis is wounded and has an arm in a sling and gets into a fight with his one-armed deputy so we get an unusual saloon brawl with two brachially challenged men hammering each other unidextrously.

Well, ex-Sheriff Grover now rides back in and tells Mayor Donlevy (who only had a short scene in the first reel and now has an equally short one in the last) that the war is now over, Lee having surrendered, and by the way, angry Rile and the Indians are coming, with their repeater rifles, so beware. Thus we have a last-reel shoot-out as ex-sheriff, new sheriff, former Yankees and former Rebels all join forces to fight the Apaches and the crook. It’s great stuff.

A few chosen characters are hit and expire but Deputy Dan gets the milliner back in his arms, Travis gifts the saloon to Molly and then he rides off into the sunset. The End.

And it's in Technicolor. Hell, what more do you want?

Producer AC Lyles and Howard Keel on the set of another of his Westerns, Waco,
with Jane Russell


Friday, June 15, 2018

My Outlaw Brother (Eagle-Lion, 1951)

Not Mickey's finest hour

My Outlaw Brother was also known as My Brother, the Outlaw, a name I prefer because the movie starred Mickey Rooney and the alternate title harked back to Rooney’s only previous Western, nearly two decades before, which was his part as the boy monarch (he was 12) in My Pal, the King, one of the great Tom Mix’s finest pictures, tragically no longer available. My Brother, the Outlaw. My Pal, the King. They go together well. Actually, Rooney generally avoided the genre until later life but did this one in a (failed) attempt to make money when he was in dire financial straits. After this picture Rooney would do no Westerns until a cameo in a 1970 comedy, Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County.
Not available: an outrage

Rooney produced the picture with Benedict Bogeaus. Bogeaus was well known in Hollywood for the likes of Captain Kidd and Christmas Eve (both with Randolph Scott) but he did do some Westerns: Silver Lode with John Payne, Cattle Queen of Montana with Barbara Stanwyck and Passion with Cornel Wilde, all in 1954, and Tennessee’s Partner with Ronald Reagan in 1955. My Outlaw Brother was the only one Bogeaus made without the enormously experienced Allan Dwan as director.
Bogeaus produced with Rooney

Instead, it was directed by Elliott Nugent, whom the IMDb bio describes as “An American minor leading man of early Depression-era talkies who played earnest, boyish leads”, adding that he “would earn more distinction as a writer, producer and director.” As director he specialized in Harold Lloyd, Bob Hope and Danny Kaye comedies; in fact his autobiography was entitled Events Leading Up to the Comedy. This was his only Western. And it shows. Really, Rooney and Bogeaus should have got someone a bit more experienced in the genre. Nugent also plays the Ranger captain.

Nugent, above, directed and, below, acted as the Ranger captain (right)
It was released by Eagle-Lion so did rather risk sinking without trace. I mean, Paramount it wasn’t. Eagle-Lion Films was a British film production company owned by J Arthur Rank which was intended to release British movies in the United States. In 1947 it acquired PRC Pictures, the Poverty Row B-movie production company. They did a couple of Westerns, such as High Lonesome and this one, but the company didn’t last and soon went under.

Hands across the ocean kinda thing

The story was based on the novel South of the Rio Grande by Max Brand and written up into a screenplay by Gene Fowler and Al Levitt. Rooney plays a New York dude come out West to find his brother, and he plays up the Eastern tenderfoot jokes to the full, rather overdoing it. He is befriended by Texas Ranger Robert Preston and together they go down Mexico way where investigator Preston is tasked with arresting the evil bandido El Tigre who has been robbing banks north of the Rio Grande - in fact we see such a raid in the first reel.

There are various jokes about Rooney's diminutive stature

Unlike Rooney, Preston was used to the saddle. Apart from his leading role in The Chisholms on TV he would do fourteen feature Westerns, often playing the charming rogue. He started in Union Pacific in 1939 and North West Mounted Police in 1940, and was especially memorable in Blood on the Moon and Whispering Smith (where he easily outshone the lackluster star Alan Ladd) in the late 40s, and later he was excellent in Best of the Badmen and, as an older man, Sam Peckinpah’s Junior Bonner, in which he was absolutely superb. Always watchable, as a goody or (more usually) a baddy, Preston was a credit to the genre.

Preston doing his thing

The brother that Rooney’s character is seeking is played by Robert Stack. For me (and many people, I guess) Stack will always be Elliott Ness but he did the occasional Western. He only made six, not a great number for the era, but he wasn’t bad in Badlands of Dakota, Men of Texas, War Paint, Conquest of Cochise and Great Day in the Morning. None of these was what you would call a top-class Western but he was reasonably convincing in them. Of course he was blond and blonds can't be goodies.

Wanda is unwilling fiancée of Stack

It has a Mexican setting and in fact had Mexican locations and crew. The picture has a 1940s B-Western vibe to it, with the evil El Tigre marauding and eventually being unmasked and ranger Preston firing his seven-shooter at the bandidos and shooting one off his horse on the distant horizon.

There’s a gal, obviously, the Señorita Carmel Alvorado, Stack’s fiancée, who soon finds she prefers brother Mickey, played by Wanda Hendrix, former Warner Brothers vamp who became Mrs. Audie Murphy and who did seven Westerns including this one.

Wanda falls for Mickey

Don ‘Red’ Barry is an uncredited Ranger, soon written out.

About the best actor on the set after Preston was José Torvay as the blacksmith Ortiz. He had been Pablo in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

There’s an unlikely finale/dénouement/shoot-out in a ruin when a deus ex machina in the shape of a troop of Federales arrives to save the day.

In all honesty this one is a bit of a dud but Preston makes it worth a look.

You will not waste away and die of grief if you never see this one
but on the other hand Preston is always worth watching


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Passion (RKO, 1954)

We're in Zorro country

The slightly lurid title might have applied to any torrid romance but this is in fact an early Mexican-California Western (well, vaguely Western) set in a time and place where Zorro might have been expected to make an appearance at any mo’. It stars Cornel Wilde as the dashing Juan Obreón and Yvonne De Carlo in two parts: as Obreón’s wife Rosa and her tomboyish sis Antonia. They are the granddaughters of elderly ranchero Gaspar (good old John Qualen).

It’s one of those rich-landowner-wants-the-whole-valley plots. Arrogant Don Domingo (Richard Hale) wants to evict old Gaspar but Gaspar says he’s staying put come what may so the wicked don sends his hired thugs, including Castro (Lon Chaney Jr. with an embarrassingly bad accent) and led by the evil Sandro (our old pal Rodolfo Acosta), to shoot the place up and burn it. They duly do so, killing Gaspar and his elderly wife, Grandma. What swine. Not only that, they shoot Rosa, Juan’s wife, so now Yvonne only has one part to play.

Grandma (Rozene Kemper) looks on, secretly approving. Actually, Ms. Kemper is very good.

When Juan knows this he is understandably irritated and it becomes a reasonably interesting revenge plot as he hunts down and eliminates the thugs, first thudding a throwing knife into each of their front doors. Lon is the first to go, squealing on the others first, though.

Lon is on his way out

There are two policemen whose job it is to bring Juan in. they are Capt. Rodriguez (a not yet fat, only plump Raymond Burr) and his sergeant (the excellent Anthony Caruso).

Now Wilde (born Kornel Lajos Weisz), a former fencer for the US Olympic team (though sadly he gets no chance to use those skills in this movie) had leapt to fame and an Oscar nomination as Fred Chopin in A Song to Remember in 1945 but though he had a fairly good line in noirs, he didn’t do Westerns. This one, a fourth-billed Army captain in Two Flags West and another Mexican-California picture, Columbia’s California Conquest in 1952, were all he did. But he’s OK as the lead in Passion, I guess.

Cornel is the dashing hero

As for Ms. De Carlo, I was never a fan and I think she was largely unsuited to the genre but she would do Westerns. She started with those excruciating 1945 B-movies with Rod Cameron Salome Where She Danced and Frontier Gal, did Black Bart and River Lady with Dan Duryea (the latter with Cameron too), she was The Gal Who Took the West in ’49 and then she was Calamity Jane to Howard Duff’s Sam Bass in Calamity Jane and Sam Bass later the same year. Well, some people like these movies and I mustn’t be snooty. She wasn’t bad in Tomahawk with Van Heflin as Jim Bridger and she starred with Joel McCrea in The San Francisco Story and Border River, which were bearable. She did quite a few TV Western shows and three late features for Producer AC Lyles in the mid-sixties.

De Carlo. Fine photography.

But honestly, the Wilde/De Carlo pairing wasn’t a Western match made in Heaven.

For Ray Burr, there were three years to go yet before he would be Perry Mason (and my Mom’s heart-throb) but in his earlier days he had taken odd jobs as a ranch hand in Roswell, New Mexico and even, it is said, as a deputy sheriff, so he probably felt qualified to do oaters. He’d done four before this one, Code of the West (1947), Station West (1948), New Mexico (1951) and Horizons West (1952), all as baddy. He would do six more afterwards, too, so he seems to have liked the format. Here he is a cop in the pocket of the rich landowner but he comes round to doing the decent thing. He hurt his leg while filming so they rewrote the script a bit to explain his limp.

Capt Burr with hero Wilde

His sidekick Sgt. Caruso is great (he always was). He did wagonloads of TV Westerns – he appeared in pretty well every series you care to name – but also did a few big-screen oaters, starting as uncredited half-breed heavy in with North West Mounted Police in 1940. He was almost always a badman, and supremely good at it he was too.

Anthony being a goody: not easy

In smaller parts we get John Dierkes as Juan’s foreman Escobar, Clayton Moore as an uncredited lieutenant and Stuart Whitman as a vaquero who gets too fresh with Antonia and is run off the rancho by Juan with a whip.

With the exception of Acosta the cast wasn’t terribly Mexican and the actors all speak to each other in English, sometimes with fake Spanish accents, and even the signs and notices are in English, so it’s a rather odd 1830s Mexican California. The firearms are also strangely modern.

It was directed by good old Allan Dwan, born 1885, who himself thought he'd directed over 1,400 films, including one-reelers, between his arrival in the industry (circa 1909) and his final picture in 1961. He once said, “If you get your head up above the mob, they try to knock it off. If you stay down, you last forever.” He directed dozens and dozens of Westerns (maybe as many as 160) from The Ranchman’s Vengeance in 1911 to The Restless Breed in 1957, so he knew a thing or two about the genre.

Few more experienced: Allan Dwan

The producer was Benedict Bogeaus (four other Westerns, Silver Lode, Cattle Queen of Montana, Tennessee’s Partner and My Outlaw Brother, the last-named the only one not directed by Dwan).

Benedict Bogeaus, producer

It’s in Technicolor so RKO didn’t stint on that. There’s some quite classy cinematography here and there, by John Alton, who had won an Oscar in ’51.

There’s an action climax on a glacier in a snowstorm (not all staged in the studio) and with several of the traveling pans Dwan was famous for. There’s also a rather good dog, the collie Capito. It all ends happily ever after – no spoiler there. Dark tragedy seems suddenly to give way to bland optimism.

Passion in the snow

Harmless enough entertainment, as long as you are not too demanding. I’d put it in the reasonably classy B department. I kinda wish it had had better leads, though there are some excellent character actors lower down the list, and visually it’s rather fine. I did toy with a three-revolver rating and may have been a bit mean.

Superb shot of Wilde admiring his baby son



Monday, June 11, 2018

Young Fury (Paramount, 1965)

Old guys rule

We’ve been reviewing recently some of those Westerns that producer AC Lyles (right) made for Paramount in the 1960s, the likes of Hostile Guns, Waco or Town Tamer, and another such was Young Fury. Lyles’s formula was to make traditional 1950s-style oaters with a cast of old hands, and this one starred the excellent Rory Calhoun, backed up by Virginia Mayo, Lon Chaney, Richard Arlen (who was in quite a few of them), John Agar and, in a very short cameo, William Bendix.

This picture was leavened with quite a list of ‘And introducings…’ and so the old-timers act alongside some inexperienced newbies.

Steve Fisher (left) did the screenplay. He had worked on a couple of goodish Westerns – The Man from the Alamo and San Antone, for example – but mostly did TV work. He was Lyles’s go-to writer for these 60s B-Westerns.

There’s music by Paul Dunlap and the picture was shot on that nice Paramount Western town lot by highly experienced TV-Western cinematographer Haskell Boggs (who had also served as a cameraman on Anthony Mann’s The Furies, so must have learned something).

This time the director was Christian Nyby (below), who as an editor worked for Howard Hawks and won an Academy Award for cutting Red River. He was uninspired as a director, though, churning out The Roy Rogers Show and The Adventures of Jim Bowie on TV and helming certain episodes of many other small-screen Westerns, especially Bonanza. Young Fury was his first and last feature Western and it does suffer a bit in pace. It wasn’t the best of these late Lyles oaters.

Director Nyby

Still, it’s a lot of fun for sad-case Westernistas.

We start with a Mexican pueblo invaded by a rabble of ex-Reb hooligans known as the Hellions, on their way to fight for Juarez against Maximilian, who hurrah the village and finally accept cadaverous knife-throwing Pancho (Marc Cavell, the kid who helped Glenn Ford in The Man from the Alamo twelve years before) into their midst. The leader of the mob, Tige (pronounced with a hard g and presumably short for Tiger) is played by Preston Pierce, billed only 7th after all the old guys but in effect the central character. Pierce, 25 at the time, is ‘famed’ for such pictures as Girls for Rent and Angels’ Wild Women (movies you doubtless know and love) and did no other Western films.

It stars Rori Kalhun and Vilijam Bendiks

The louts learn that the famed gunslinger Clint McCoy (Rory, natch) had been in the pueblo, on the track of his erstwhile accomplices the evil Dawson bunch, but has now returned to his home town in Texas, and it appears that Tige is Clint’s son and hates him viscerally so the wolf pack abandon their Juarez plans and return to the Lone Star state to do in Clint.

Rory and Virginia on the set

They arrive at the Texas town, locate Clint, and duly start treeing that burg too. The place has an ineffectual older sheriff (Arlen) who is powerless to control the violent and drunken band, and soon the climax will come when the Dawson gang, headed by John Agar, will ride in to kill Clint and there will certainly be (because it’s a B-Western) a shoot-out in the street which the goodies will finally win.

As for the old-timers, Calhoun had started Westerns right back in 1949 in Massacre River (also Guy Madison’s first), had of course been The Texan on TV from 1958 – 60, appeared in several other Western TV shows and had starred in 26 big-screen Westerns before this one, so he was a really seasoned hand at the oater, and ideal material to lead for Lyles. He is convincing as the aging gunslinger. I liked it when one of the Hellions says to him, “Mr. McCoy, will you put away the gun? It might go off accidental like” and Clint replies, “If it goes off, sonny, it won’t be accidental.”

Rory as The Texan

As for Mayo, she was near the end of her Western career but was a notable leading lady in the genre. I think of her especially as Colorado in Colorado Territory with Joel McCrea in 1949, but also in Along the Great Divide with Kirk Douglas, The Iron Mistress with Alan Ladd, Devil’s Canyon with Dale Robertson, The Proud Ones with Robert Ryan, The Big Land with Ladd again, and Fort Dobbs with Clint Walker. Young Fury was her first Western since Westbound in 1959. She was always good. In this one she plays the ex-wife of Rory, become blousy saloon owner and mother of Tige, though Tige does not know this.


Lon Chaney Jr. had started in Westerns as a lead in RKO’s The Last Frontier in 1932. He rarely led again after that but became a B-Western regular who also got small parts in some big pictures in the late 30s like Union Pacific and Jesse James. In the 1940s he continued that trend in the likes of North West Mounted Police, Billy the Kid and Albuquerque, big Westerns all. In 1952 he was memorable as the arthritic former marshal in High Noon and later in the decade he was Chingachgook in Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans on TV (a series I followed avidly as a boy) and he became a stalwart of other TV Westerns. So he was another very familiar face to Western lovers. He plays the tough saloon barman in Young Fury.

Lon in High Noon

Richard Arlen, born 1899, got his big break when William A Wellman cast him in the silent movie Wings in 1927 and he worked with Gary Cooper again when he was Steve in the 1929 talkie The Virginian. He led in early sound Westerns such as the 1930 version of The Light of Western Stars and continued leading, but in rather more B-Westerns, into the 1940s. In the 50s he was getting smaller parts in feature Westerns and also started appearing on TV shows. AC Lyles used him a lot and the Lyles Westerns were his last. He died in 1976.

Arlen in Wings and below in Young Fury

Agar started at the top and worked his way slowly down. He was chosen by John Ford in Fort Apache in 1948, along with his wife Shirley Temple, and again for the color sequel, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon the following year. Ford, who could be a real bully, made his life hell on the sets but John Wayne stood up for him and helped him out, giving him parts in Wayne Westerns when his career was on the skids. He did a lot of TV work too in the 1950s and was well known to Westernistas, though never really a great actor in the genre.

Agar, and below in the showdown with Calhoun

As for Bendix, I never rated him in Westerns, to which he seemed unsuited, and which, to be fair, he largely avoided. He had started as the comic-relief Wahoo in Streets of Laredo, the late 40s color remake of The Texas Rangers, but otherwise only did TV Westerns (notably Overland Trail in 1960) until Lyles used him for a couple of his mid-60s oaters. He plays the blacksmith with a three-line bit part, a role which he persuaded his pal Lyles to give him (it was not originally in the script). It was Bendix’s last movie.

He largely avoided Westerns. Wisely.
As the blacksmith
Lower down the cast list we have Jody McCrea, Joel’s son, as one of the Hellions and William Wellman Jr., the director’s son, as one of Agar’s henchmen.

There’s an attempt at psychological Western when Clint McCoy, his ex, Sara, and Tige are in town, and Tige, who is determined to bring his father down for having deserted him and his mother, finally finds out who is ma is. Tige meets a girl (newby Linda Foster) who softens him a bit and he gets all boo-hoo when visiting the derelict family home outside town. The girl astutely tells Tige that the reason for his loathing his father is that he is jealous of him. Then there’s an action finale when the four-strong Dawson gang, who are said to make the Hellions look like choirboys, ride in to exact their revenge on Clint. 

Certain key characters fall in the hail of bullets (as to who they might be, my lips are sealed) but the ending is too trite and sudden.

It tried for a Western version of the then fashionable juvenile delinquent/teen-rebellion movies but largely failed on that score. Paramount distributed the picture on a double bill with The Girls on the Beach, a dire teen-girl comedy, so it probably seemed OK by comparison.