Dangerous Years Movie Review: Bad Boys in a Bad Movie

Marilyn Monroe can serve me a malt anytime, but I don't think I could watch this film again.
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Made available on June 20th 2012 as part of the Twentieth Century Fox Cinema Archives made-on-demand program, this 63-minute film is full of overly stoic, one-dimensional performances and heavy-handed storytelling, yet manages to be endearing due to its quaint depiction of a more simple time.

dangerous yearsJeff Carter (Donald Curtis) is set on keeping the local teenagers on the right track by running a Boys Club in Middleton USA.  Things seem to be going well until Danny Jones (Billy Halop) starts working at the local malt shop, The Gopher Hole.  Danny starts teaching some of the guys how to play poker and steal for money.  Jeff tries to recruit Danny into the Boys Club, but he’ll have none of it.  Eventually the two clash as Jeff tries to stop a robbery and is killed in the process.  With Danny on trial for murder, we find out why this boy is bad.

This story lacks detail and unfolds on the screen like a play produced on an extremely limited budget.  The plot has holes and leaves the audience wondering why the script wasn’t fleshed out and thus expanded into a full-length feature, as the potential was clearly there.  As it is, this film looks more like something shown in a high school Social Studies class.

The film is arguably (see The Shocking Miss Pilgrim) the debut of Marilyn Monroe who plays Evie, a waitress at the Gopher Hole.  Looking for her, and appreciating what she does with such a small part, is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film.

With no bonus material, recognizable stars besides Monroe and a young Daryl Hickman, and no broadcast history due to the length of the film, this will be a hard sell to the general public.

Recommendation: There are worse ways of spending an hour, and this film certainly harkens back to both a more simple time in America and movie-making.  Ultimately the story is not strong enough and leaves far too many reasons for the audience to scratch its head, and move onto another DVD.

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