Bad Girl (1956)

Bad Girl (1956)

“Kindly allow me to choose my own friends!”

A widowed editor (Anna Neagle) reluctantly dates a handsome client (Norman Wooland) while becoming increasingly concerned about her rebellious daughter (Sylvia Syms), who is spending more and more time with a jive-loving hepster (Kenneth Haigh).


Reportedly made as a British response to Rebel Without a Cause (1955), this collaboration by husband/wife team Herbert Wilcox and Anna Neagle is a competently directed but uninspired teen-angst flick. Neagle’s stoic-mother performance is just a tad shy of Joan-Crawford-territory — but that tad makes all the difference, in the wrong direction; her reactions and expressions are predictable through and through.

Meanwhile, Wooland is simply forgettable as her conveniently understanding and handsome suitor. The best feature of the film is Sylvia Syms (in her screen debut) as the pretty young protagonist, who’s torn between a desire to remain her mother’s “good” eldest daughter, and her itch to explore the wild-and-woolly world of soul-corrupting jive. The screenplay becomes needlessly melodramatic in its final third, as Neagle and Syms are provided with further opportunities to explore their complicated mother-daughter dynamic, and the overall tenor of the film begins to feel more like a “women’s weepie” than anything else.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Sylvia Syms as Janet Carr

Must See?
No; feel free to skip this one. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Bad Girl (1956)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    It’s a mother’s nightmare, indeed! (“I hate you! I HATE YOU!”) But what’s a mother to do when only MST3K can help?

    How did Peary even find this obscure thing? I’ve never heard it mentioned or referenced anywhere outside of his lists. Such a dumb film.

    Yes, it does have a whiff of ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, with ‘Mildred Pierce’ thrown in for bad measure. But it’s devastatingly dull.

    And it’s also longer than it needs to be…say, by about an hour and forty minutes. …Sheesh!

    Fave bit: The budget for music must have been at an all-time low. There are several sequences inside a ‘jive club’ – and, each time we’re there, we hear the same song – the single, tiresome ‘hep-cat’ tune.

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