When 17-year-old Hal Detmar (James MacArthur - better known as Danno from Hawaii Five-O) gets into a fight at the movie theatre, he finds the adult world arrayed against him. Neither his father, nor the cops, will believe that he only hit the theatre owner (Whit Bissel - the mad scientist/bad man of every I Was A Teenage... shocker) in self-defence. His father, a movie studio executive, uses his influence to get the theatre owner to retract his complaint, but this display of adult hypocricy only makes things worse...

The Young Stranger was all but disowned by its director, John Frankenheimer, who apparently felt it to be more or less an apprentice work, in which he tried to get accustomed to the working methods of film - as distinct from television - production.

Copy picture

Really, however, it's not as bad as this self-critical assessment would suggest. While, perhaps, too obviously tied to its small screen origins, The Young Stranger is, basically, a competent piece of craftsmanship.

Yet the film lacks much to interest contemporary viewers, unlikely to see anything other than an transparent rehash of Rebel Without A Cause, hearkening back to a more innocent age, when the worst someone could be was "crummy", the drug problem meant the odd "hopped up" beatnik and the notion of guns in school nothing but the fantastical propaganda of anti-American, pro-Red scaremongers.

For the very same reasons, sociologists, cultural historians and readers of Peter Biskind's Seeing Is Believing will find the film of considerable use as an examplar of mid-20th century discourses around conformity, concensus and the teenager.

Reviewed on: 07 Aug 2003
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A rehash of Rebel Without A Cause about a misunderstood Fifties American teenager.
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Director: John Frankenheimer

Writer: Robert Dozier

Starring: James MacArthur, Kim Hunter, James Daly, James Gregory, Whit Bissell, Jeffrey Silver, Jack Mullaney

Year: 1957

Runtime: 84 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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Rebel Without A Cause