“These kids today have no sense of responsibility… None at all!”
When a teenager (Tom Laughlin) is told he can’t see his girlfriend (Rosemary Howard) anymore, he accidentally gets involved with a gang of juvenile delinquents (led by Peter Miller) who lead him down a dangerous path.
- Juvenile Delinquents
- Robert Altman Films
Robert Altman’s debut film (which he later dismissed as a film with no “meaning for anybody”) shows little evidence of what was to become his signature directorial style, yet nonetheless demonstrates his burgeoning ability to take pulp thematic material and turn it into a reasonably compelling drama. Brooding Tom Laughlin — channeling James Dean — is fine in the lead role as an upstanding teen who becomes unwittingly embroiled in juvenile gang shenanigans; it’s refreshing to see him hold his own rather than caving in (as one would expect) to the “allure” of peer pressure. The storyline is simple but relatively fresh for the genre, with the final third of the film actually generating some true tension as Laughlin and his naive girlfriend find themselves trapped in the snares of their ruthless hostages. Ignore the laughably campy opening and closing narration (“The story you are about to see is about violence and immorality — teenage violence and immorality, children trapped in the half-world between adolescence and maturity…”) as merely a convention of the times; fortunately, it does little to detract from the rest of the film.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Tom Laughlin as Scotty
No, but it’s worth a look simply for its importance as Altman’s first film.