Youth Runs Wild (1944)

67 mins | Drama | 1944

Director:

Mark Robson

Writer:

John Fante

Producer:

Val Lewton

Cinematographer:

John Mescall

Editor:

John Lockert

Production Designers:

Albert D'Agostino, Carroll Clark

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Dangerous Age , Look to Your Children and Are These Our Children . Actor Rod Rogers' surname was misspelled as "Rodgers" in the onscreen creits. According to pre-production news items in HR , director Edward Dmytryk was initially assigned to the film, but left the project to direct Tender Comrade (see above). Eve March was tested for a leading role, but does not appear in the picture. According to another news item in HR , photographer John Mescall experimented with a new lens called the "swivel lens" in order to produce a depth of focus nearing infinity for scenes in the picture. Ruth Clifton, the technical advisor on the film, founded a youth recreation center in Moline, IL designed to address the problems of juvenile delinquency. Herbert Kline, one of the film's writers, was a noted director of documentary films.
       News items in HR and LAEx note that RKO tried to lend authority to the film by screening it for agencies like the State Juvenile Delinquency Authority and the Los Angeles Youth Activities Committee. Despite its claims of authenticity, the picture was poorly received. In a telegram contained in the RKO Legal Files, a Look spokesman described the film as an "outworn, stale documentary," and the magazine refused to allow its name to appear in screen credits or to promote the film in any way. Although some prints for the film [including the print initially viewed for this entry] did not credit the Look photo essay which inspired the film, others ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Dangerous Age , Look to Your Children and Are These Our Children . Actor Rod Rogers' surname was misspelled as "Rodgers" in the onscreen creits. According to pre-production news items in HR , director Edward Dmytryk was initially assigned to the film, but left the project to direct Tender Comrade (see above). Eve March was tested for a leading role, but does not appear in the picture. According to another news item in HR , photographer John Mescall experimented with a new lens called the "swivel lens" in order to produce a depth of focus nearing infinity for scenes in the picture. Ruth Clifton, the technical advisor on the film, founded a youth recreation center in Moline, IL designed to address the problems of juvenile delinquency. Herbert Kline, one of the film's writers, was a noted director of documentary films.
       News items in HR and LAEx note that RKO tried to lend authority to the film by screening it for agencies like the State Juvenile Delinquency Authority and the Los Angeles Youth Activities Committee. Despite its claims of authenticity, the picture was poorly received. In a telegram contained in the RKO Legal Files, a Look spokesman described the film as an "outworn, stale documentary," and the magazine refused to allow its name to appear in screen credits or to promote the film in any way. Although some prints for the film [including the print initially viewed for this entry] did not credit the Look photo essay which inspired the film, others contained the statement "Inspired by the Look Magazine Picture Story 'Are These Our Children.'"
       A memo contained in the legal files written by Val Lewton to Charles Koerner, the then head of the studio, reveals that RKO previewed two different versions of the film (hence the two copyright numbers assigned to the picture). RKO recut Lewton's original version, excising several scenes, including those concerning an abused teenage boy and his sadistic father, according to a modern source. The picture was a failure at the box office and lost $45,000, according to the RKO Archives Production Information Files at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library. The picture has no connection to the 1931 RKO film titled Are These Our Children? , although they are both about juvenile delinquents. Youth Runs Wild marked the motion picture debut of actress Vanessa Brown, who appeared under the name Tessa Brind. Prior to coming to Hollywood, Brown had been on the Broadway stage and had appeared on the popular radio program Quiz Kids . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Jan 43
p. 27.
Daily Variety
22 Jun 44
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Jun 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 43
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 43
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 44
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
22 Aug 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Mar 44
p. 1786.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Jun 44
p. 1959.
New York Times
2 Sep 44
p. 17.
Variety
28 Jun 44
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Topical research
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Dangerous Age
Are These Our Children?
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 1 September 1944
Production Date:
3 November--21 December 1943
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 August 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12891, LP12789
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
67
Length(in feet):
6,016
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9767
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After a three-year absence, Mary Coates returns to her parents' home on Euclid Street to find the neighborhood changed by the ongoing war. Her parents, the Hausers, are working the night shift at a defense plant while her fifteen-year old brother Frankie has been truant from school. Mary is upset by Frankie's attachment to Sarah Taylor, the eldest daughter of the Hausers' lowbrow new neighbors. When Sarah's parents selfishly insist that she cancel her birthday date with Frankie and babysit her younger siblings so that they can attend a party, Sarah sneaks out of the house to meet Frankie. Frankie, who does not have enough money to take Sarah on a real date, confides that he wants to quit school and get a job. The next morning, Mary receives a telephone call notifiying her that her husband, Danny Coates, a war hero who has been awarded the Purple Heart, is being released from the hospital and will return home the following day. That night, as Sarah finishes serving dinner to her siblings, her parents return home with some boisterous friends and commandeer the table to play a game of cards. When one of the men begins to leer at Sarah, her mother tells her to leave the house, so she goes to the movie theater in search of Frankie. Larry Duncan, the owner of a garage that fences stolen automobiles, and his girl friend Toddy offer Sarah a ride to the theater. When the usher says that Frankie is not there, Larry invites Sarah to join them at Rocky's Café, a nightclub. Meanwhile, Frankie, to avoid paying admission, has sneaked into the theater ... +


After a three-year absence, Mary Coates returns to her parents' home on Euclid Street to find the neighborhood changed by the ongoing war. Her parents, the Hausers, are working the night shift at a defense plant while her fifteen-year old brother Frankie has been truant from school. Mary is upset by Frankie's attachment to Sarah Taylor, the eldest daughter of the Hausers' lowbrow new neighbors. When Sarah's parents selfishly insist that she cancel her birthday date with Frankie and babysit her younger siblings so that they can attend a party, Sarah sneaks out of the house to meet Frankie. Frankie, who does not have enough money to take Sarah on a real date, confides that he wants to quit school and get a job. The next morning, Mary receives a telephone call notifiying her that her husband, Danny Coates, a war hero who has been awarded the Purple Heart, is being released from the hospital and will return home the following day. That night, as Sarah finishes serving dinner to her siblings, her parents return home with some boisterous friends and commandeer the table to play a game of cards. When one of the men begins to leer at Sarah, her mother tells her to leave the house, so she goes to the movie theater in search of Frankie. Larry Duncan, the owner of a garage that fences stolen automobiles, and his girl friend Toddy offer Sarah a ride to the theater. When the usher says that Frankie is not there, Larry invites Sarah to join them at Rocky's Café, a nightclub. Meanwhile, Frankie, to avoid paying admission, has sneaked into the theater through a side door. After he hears that Sarah has been seen with Larry, Frankie is berated by Herb Vigero, his tough-talking friend, who suggests they go to work for Larry. When Frankie, Herb and another friend appear at Larry's garage in search of a job, Larry's garage manager sends them to steal tires from parked cars. Larry, learning of their assignment, races to stop them because he was an old schoolmate of Mary's and feels protective toward Frankie. Meanwhile, at a parking lot, the boys begin to steal a tire when a telephone linesman spots them and calls the guard. Larry arrives just as the boys speed away, and when the guard shoots, he hits Larry. As Toddy drives the wounded Larry to his garage, the boys are arrested for speeding. After calling an ambulance, Toddy leaves Larry at the garage and takes Sarah with her. The next day, Danny arrives home on crutches and learns that Mary is at juvenile court with Frankie. Danny, still wearing his uniform, rushes to the courthouse, and the judge, impressed by the soldier's medals, paroles Frankie and his friends into Danny's custody. When they return home, Mrs. Hauser and Mary, who blame Frankie's delinquent behavior on the "new people on the street," ask Frankie to stop seeing Sarah. Soon after, an unattended child is hit by a car, prompting Mary and Danny to discuss solutions to the problem of child neglect created when both parents are working at defense plants. To help alleviate the problem, Mary decides to open a daycare center in the Hausers' backyard, and Danny plans to teach his wards how to work with tools and other useful skills. After Frankie informs Sarah that he can no longer see her, Toddy stops by and asks Sarah to visit Larry in the hospital for her. Toddy is on probation and therefore unable to visit Larry, who is under arrest, and so Sarah agrees to go in her stead. After the visit, Toddy takes Sarah to an amusement park to cheer her up, and when they miss the last bus back to town, they spend the night at Rocky's Café. When Sarah returns home the next morning, her abusive parents throw her out of the house. Toddy, identifying with the girl's alienation, takes her home and gets her a job at Rocky's. Weeks later, after Frankie confides to Danny that he blames himself for Sarah leaving home, Danny promises to talk to Sarah for him. At Rocky's, Sarah, now working as a bar hostess, tells Danny that she is no longer a child and hopes that Frankie will forget her for his own good. Unable to accept Sarah's rejection, Frankie and his friends drive to the club to talk to her. When Frankie apologizes to Sarah and says that he loves her, she berates him and asks Rocky to throw him out. Angry at the treatment of his friend, Herb insists on entering the club and starts a fight. In the mêlée, Toddy is injured and later dies in her hospital bed as Larry and Sarah helplessly watch. Frankie is brought to trial, and although the judge admits that society's ills are caused by the breakup of the family, he sentences Frankie to eighteen months in Forestry Camp. After Danny and Sarah bid Frankie farewell, Danny comforts Sarah with the story of Ruth Clifton, a teenager who founded a youth recreation center in Moline, Illinois, to help eliminate the problem of juvenile delinquency. Inspired by Ruth's example, Sarah goes to join the cause. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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