TEENAGE DOLL (director: Roger Corman; screenwriter: Charles B. Griffith; cinematographer: Floyd Crosby; editor: Charles Gross; music: Walter Greene; cast: June Kenny (Barbara Bonney), Fay Spain (Helen), Sandy Smith (Lori), Collette Jackson (May), Barbara Wilson (Betty Herne), Ziva Rodann (Eva), Dorothy Neumann (Estelle Bonney), Richard H. Cutting (Police Sgt. Phil Herne), Richard Devon (Det. Dunston), John Brinkley (Eddie Rand), Jay Sayer (Wally Tomasek), Barboura Morris (Janet), Ed Nelson (Police Officer ‘Dutch’/Blind Man), Bruno VeSota (Fat witness), Paul Bryar (Helen’s Father), Dorothy Neumann (Estelle Bonney), Damian O’Flynn (Harold Bonney); Runtime: 68; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Roger Corman; Image Entertainment; 1957)
“The only thing enjoyable about this dumb 1950s juvenile delinquent exploitation film was in how it was so crass.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The only thing enjoyable about this dumb 1950s juvenile delinquent exploitation film was in how it was so crass. Roger Corman (“Sorority Girl “/”Bloody Mama”/”Rock All Night”) sloppily directs this bleak and square vision of urban teenage violence. It’s lamely scripted by Charles B. Griffith, who is trying to find some humor in the camp production and the ludicrous story. It also suffers from acting that leaves a lot to be desired.
Barbara Bonney (June Kenny) is the nice new gal in town (it seems to be LA, though it never mentioned its location), from the right side of the tracks, who feels she’s misunderstood by her freaky mother (Dorothy Neumann) and square father (Damian O’Flynn) and asserts herself by getting involved with a bad dude from the wrong side of the tracks–Vandals gang leader Eddie Rand (John Brinkley). He seduces her by pretending to understand her, but behind her back tells the gang all her pressing secrets and makes fun of her. According to Eddie, “The worst thing one can do, is step out of their class.” I always thought it was ordering white wine with meat.
A rooftop fight over Eddie between Barbara and the all-girl Black widow gang member Nan, leads to Barbara being forced to defend herself and in the process pushing Nan off the roof. The Black Widows led by the obsessive nasty mouth Helen (Fay Spain), scheme to get even with Barbara without telling the police. This leads Barbara to run away from home and seek shelter with the heartless womanizer Eddie in his gang’s lair located in an abandoned warehouse in the back of an auto junkyard. All he can suggest is to go to Phoenix with his contact and start life over. In the climax, there’s a gang rumble between the male gangs of the Vandals and the Tarantulas (associated with the Black Widows) and the male’s two counterpart rival female gangs–the Vandalettes and the Black widows. Eventually the police come and breakup the rumble and take a shaken Barbara into custody. Several of the Black Widows have become disillusioned with the gang and quit, while the hardcore members go along with Helen and her criminal ways.
By giving us several glimpses at the troubled homelife of several girl gang members, we are led to believe that it’s a dysfunctional family that causes teens to be delinquents. We are also told that teens should stay home at night, or at least not stay out late.
REVIEWED ON 4/22/2007 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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