Jail Bait (1954)

“This afternoon we had a long telephone conversation earlier in the day.”

Synopsis:
The son (Clancy Malone) of a renowned plastic surgeon (Herbert Rawlinson) is bailed out of prison by his sister (Dolores Fuller), but soon lured back into a life of crime by gangster Vic Brady (Timothy Farrell).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that while this Ed Wood “melodrama is ineptly made”, his “fans will be disappointed”, given that it actually “has a coherent plot”, “even has a clever ending”, and features acting that may be “mediocre” but is “better than in other Wood films”. With that said, “bad movie” fans will be happy to note that “the photography is dark, the sound and dubbing are horrible, [and] the music laughable”. (Indeed, the relentlessly repetitive, Spanish-themed guitar and piano score — borrowed directly from Mesa of Lost Women (1953) — is guaranteed to get on your nerves within about five minutes, and is far too often inappropriately “applied”.) Peary is dead wrong, however, in stating that “the women are ugly”: while Fuller isn’t necessarily a pin-up candidate, former fashion model Theodora Thurman — playing Farrell’s gun-toting mistress — is quite stunning.

Note: Sadly, Tim Burton’s Ed Wood skips over the production of Jail Bait altogether, moving straight from Glen or Glenda (1953) to Bride of the Monster (1955). While this is understandable, given its already two-hour-long running time, one can’t help but wonder what juicy tidbits would/could have been unearthed…

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An amusingly inept (though occasionally surprisingly engaging) crime thriller

Must See?
No, though naturally Wood cultists will want to be sure to check it out. Available for free viewing on the Internet Archive.

Links:

One Response to “Jail Bait (1954)”

  1. Not a must.

    Yes, considering this is a Wood pic, it’s fairly competent, esp. in its first half. But basically it’s missing the ‘off’ element that makes some of the better-known Wood pics so ‘endearing’. It’s lacking the sprinklings of his trademark dialogue. (Although it’s fun to hear Dolores Fuller when she meets the cops: “I hope I’m happy to meet you.”) ‘Jail Bait’ comes off like Wood showing a real fondness for Warner Bros. gangster flicks. As such, it’s watchable. But not that memorable.

    Thurman has a Charlotte Rampling thing going. Imagine Rampling under Wood’s direction! 😉

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