And then, finally, seeing THE VIOLENT YEARS (1956) on a screen larger than my TV screen. A nightmare come true! This is the distillation and summation of all of America's 1950s neuroses. Juvenile delinquency, female sexuality, female aggression, pregnancy out-of-wedlock, absentee parenthood in the middle class, and the foreign menace. Only from the pen of Edward D. Wood, Jr. A middle-class gang of attractive thrill-seeking high school girls runs rampant, robbing gas stations, vandalizing the school, and sexually assaulting an unsuspecting pretty boy. Led by the daughter of the local newspaper editor...and right under his and his wife's unsuspecting noses (Juvenile delinquency is the result of adult delinquency.). But the crime spree comes to an end due to the local police force led by -- ah, the presence --Timothy Farrell. Unfortunately, some of the girls and a cop had to pay the ultimate price...death...including the gang leader, who died in the reformatory while giving birth to a girl. And her parents? They are denied custody of the baby due to their demonstrated lack of parental abilities. As the father learned: It does no good to look back. It can only be more of a hurt. We must now look forward, using the past only as a pattern of judgment for the future. (Didn't Criswell reprise this?) This was William Morgan's last directing assignment, but he stayed busy as editor of Lassie (other editing credits included PORTRAIT OF JENNIE and SONG OF THE SOUTH). Cinematographer William C. Thompson belongs in the sub-Poverty Row Hall of Fame due to his work on MANIAC, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, DEMENTIA, JAIL BAIT, GLEN OR GLENDA, and NIGHT OF THE GHOULS.
What a fitting end to this journey to the dark edges of Noir. Thank you, Elliot!