SO YOUNG, SO BAD(director/writer: Bernard Vorhaus; screenwriters: Jean Rouverol/story by Jean Rouverol and Bernard Vorhaus; cinematographer: Don Malkames; editor: Carl Lerner; music: Robert W. Stinger; cast: Paul Henreid (Dr. Jason), Catherine McLeod (Ruth Levering), Anne Jackson (Jackie), Enid Pulver (Jane), Anne Francis (Loretta), Rita Moreno (Dolores), Cecil Clovelly (Riggs), Grace Coppin (Mrs. Beuhler); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Harry Lee and Edward J. Danziger; United Artists; 1950-B/W)
“The clumsily made melodrama, filled with banal dialogue and wooden acting, doesn’t serve its progressive prison reform cause well.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Bernard Vorhaus (“Bury Me Dead”/”The Lady From Boston”) ineptly directs a social conscious indie film about abuses in a girls reform school. It’s based on the story he wrote with Jean Rouverol.
Liberal psychiatrist Dr. Jason (Paul Henreid) is newly appointed to the Elmview Corrective School for Girls, located on a large country estate with no walls. But Jason finds the institution is demoralizing the girl inmates with its harsh policies instead of reforming them and he initiates changes to help the girls serve time in a less hostile climate. The story focuses on the humanistic help Dr. Jason gives to four of the wayward girls: Dolores (Rita Moreno) and Loretta (Anne Francis) serving time for prostitution and to Jackie (Anne Jackson) and Jane (Enid Pulver) serving time for stealing. He’s helped by the social worker and assistant superintendent Ruth Levering (Catherine McLeod), and opposed by the sadistic head matron Mrs. Beuhler (Grace Coppin) and the rigid superintendent Mr. Riggs (Cecil Clovelly). When Dolores commits suicide and the three troubled girls Jane, Jackie and Loretta escape, Riggs forces Dr. Jason to resign. Instead Jason fights back, and goes before the Board to explain his modern approach for treatment. He gets the reform school to change its failing policies on discipline and the new progressive policies give the 118 inmates a fair chance to be rehabilitated.
The clumsily made melodrama, filled with banal dialogue and wooden acting, doesn’t serve its progressive prison reform cause well.
REVIEWED ON 1/26/2017 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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