Rosemary Clinton (Lili Gentle) is a prim and proper teen whose parents begin to worry about her when she decides to go on a date with Tommy Price (Mark Damon).
Tommy’s a doctor’s son… but he’s also the leader of a rowdy gang of boys known for causing all kinds of trouble around town. In the words of his own father, he thinks the only things that matter in life are jazz, hot rods and girls.
Tommy’s not sincere about the date — he’s made a bet with his friends that he can make Rosemary fall for him despite his delinquent reputation. Their first date doesn’t go so well to say the least, with Tommy getting a bit too friendly and the pair getting picked up by the cops.
But Rosemary does think that she can see the “real” Tommy behind his “bad boy” façade, and as she continues to see him (behind her parents’ backs) she encourages him to go to college and become a doctor.
William F. Claxton directs Young and Dangerous, a 1957 “teens gone mad” flick that was released on a double bill with Rockabilly Baby. This film is so far forgotten that it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page. It used to be available as a part of Netflix Instant’s grand collection of juvenile delinquency films, but got dropped during “streamapocalypse.” James Landis (The Sadist, Deadwood ’76) penned the script.
Young and Dangerous is a film that doesn’t exactly clue the audience in right away on what they’re in for. The opening scene features two teens mackin’ on each other in a car before a fight breaks out between the male half of that mackin’ duo (none other than our boy Tommy) and another guy who likes the same girl. This scene has little to do with the rest of the film, but it establishes the character of Tommy and his “bad boy” attitude.
Lively jazz music kicks in over the opening credits, and we’re off to a perfect start, if rather typical of the genre.
The film, unfortunately, doesn’t quite meet the lively pace of that jazzy opening song nor the fighting spirit of that opening scene, but it’s still a pretty good watch.
Ever-so-slightly overzealous performances make up for the film’s slower portions, and the “girl changes boy for the better” story is a nice departure from the usual “teen corrupted by delinquent teen” fare that we see so often in this genre. The film almost seems like a response to the rest of the genre, as though it’s saying “Look! Teens can influence each other in positive ways, too!” (The parental units here are just as oblivious and misunderstanding as those in every film of this type, though.)
Because of this “positive influence” plot, the film has a bit more of a romantic edge than is typical of the genre, which probably accounts for some of the slowness. Rather than driving too fast and painting the town like he used to, Tommy spends most of the film playing “cutesy couple” with Rosemary and making the transition from troublemaker to future doctor.
Despite its pacing problems, Young and Dangerous is in general a good little watch. Merging juvenile delinquency with sugary sweet teen romance, there isn’t much about the film that’s truly “dangerous” as the title would suggest, but the story is engrossing enough and there is a bit of tension thrown in. The score: 3.5/5