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The Boy with Green Hair (1948)
Laughing GravyBalcony Gang, Foist Class
- Joined: September 1st, 2005, 4:44 am
The Boy with Green Hair (1948) Dir. Joseph Losey
An RKO Radio Picture
82 min. / Technicolor / 1.33:1
ITB Strange Science-Fantasy #160 1/2
American war orphan Dean Stockwell is shunted from relative to relative until he finally ends up with "Gramp" Pat O'Brien (who isn't actually a relative), a retired vaudevillian who sings in Irish patter. Well, one morning the kid's hair turns bright Technicolor green, and while he hates it and the townspeople begin to eye him with suspicion and mistrust, particularly milkman Regis Toomey - people have stopped buying milk, figuring that's the cause - in the end, young Dean, with the help of shrink Robert Ryan and school teacher Barbara Hale, learns that we're all different in one way or another and that there's an important reason his hair turned green.
One of Dore Schary's "message" pictures and Losey's directorial debut. The film died at the box-office (maybe because Schary was gone from the studio by the time it was released) and critics have never been overly kind to it ("muddled, pretentious, and unpersuasive" - Halliwell) but I first saw it as a kid and I loved it; it was one of a handful of non-monster movies I never missed when it came on. (And when I got the DVD, I was shocked to see that O'Brien has a song and dance fantasy sequence, a bit that must've been cut in every TV showing.) Simply put, I know of no other movie like it - and it's so darn sincere and lovable. Even the "mean kids" (headed up by Dwayne Hickman) aren't so bad. It's a movie with a big heart that's in the right place and in my world, this thing would be shown to elementary school children every year. Alas, we don't live in my world, in case you haven't noticed.
From the farewell letter Stockwell's father left him before he died: "Death is a sad thing, because it takes the great gift of life. But it need not be sad if the gift has been well-used."
Worth mentioning that the film also features the song "Nature Boy," which became one of Nat King Cole's biggest hits.
Over all these years, the film has held up very well, I think, and the DVD from Warner Archive looks fine (too much to hope for a Blu-ray, I s'pose). It's still a favorite, and as I wrap up my weekly sci-fi retrospective, I'm going to be viewing 1950s matinee-type films or drive-in movies more often.
ALSO ON THE PROGRAM
For the kiddies, three cartoons, including Captains Outrageous, and Magoo cartoons so far have taken two tracks: either Magoo mistakes an animal for his nephew Waldo (in this case, a seal) or he doesn't. I like the "doesn't" ones better, but this was okay. Then, in Clash and Carry, Chilly Willy tries to loot Wally Walrus' fish store (and although this isn't a Tex Avery, it's still very funny and Chilly is clearly patterned after Chaplin in this one). And when an old couple dies and leaves their fortune to the vermin who overran their house, their nephew tries to kill the mice only to run into The Champion of Justice. One thing I've noticed about these Mighty Mouse cartoons: they're typical cat (or in this case, human) chasing mice cartoons until the very end, when the hero shows up; this week, Mighty Mouse doesn't appear until 5:10 of a six minute cartoon.
Then it was Blackhawk's Daring Plan, episode 13 of Blackhawk, and so far as I could figure, the "daring plan" was to punch enemy agents in the face. In any case, Blackhawk and Chuck got all blowed up in an airplane at the cliffhanger. Ouch!
We also saw a trailer for an upcoming kiddie matinee: Have Rocket, Will Travel with the Three Stooges! Wow!
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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