Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Subtext
Short Take: A do-gooder psychiatrist tries to redeem a brutal reform school for girls.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 1950
Duration: 91 min
Language: USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Bernard Vorhaus
Writer: Jean Rouverol, Bernard Vorhaus
Starring: Paul Henreid, Catherine McLeod, Grace Coppin, Cecil Clovelly, Anne Francis, Rita Moreno, Anne Jackson, Enid Pulver

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So Young So BadInmates at Elmview Corrective School hijack a laundry truck in an escape attempt. The seductress, Loretta (Anne Francis, Forbidden Planet, Blackboard Jungle), and the “more aggressive” Jackie (Anne Jackson, The Bell Jar, The Shining) make it into town, while Jackie’s special friend, Jane (Enid Pulver) is thrown from the truck.

“What will happen to them now?” reflects Dr. Jason (Paul Henreid), the psychiatrist who had tried in earnest to reform the corrupt institution.

Loretta, Jackie and Jane (arrested together for stealing –food), and the shy Hispanic girl, Dolores (a young Rita Moreno), had arrived at Elmwood at the same time Dr. Jason was beginning his tenure.

The doctor dutifully counsels the young women, oblivious to the harshness of their conditions imposed by the dour-faced matron, Mrs. Beuhler (Grace Coppin). When Dr. Jason finally clues in, he blackmails the administrator, Mr. Riggs (Cecil Clovelly), into turning direction of the school over to him and his social–worker ally/love interest, Ruth (Catherine McLeod).

Jason turns the school around but Riggs and Beuhler are seething behind the scenes. No longer able to contain her sadistic impulses, Buehler singles out Dolores for torment, setting off a chain of events that take us to the movie’s opening escape scene. From there, Riggs and Beuhler resume domination of the school. It seems bleak at this point, but don’t forget Loretta and Jackie are still out there, un-swayed by the new reign of tongue-silencing terror at Elmview.

Though there is no direct mention of lesbianism, there is no doubt that Jackie and Jane are lovers. Jackie wears in pants in the family (in contrast to the bosom-boosting prison dress worn by Anne Francis) and is the protector of her devoted femme friend.

So Young So Bad closely follows requisite women-in-prison conventions. We even get a hint of risqué as bras dangle and bare legs are seen during the intake strip search, and, in one scene, battered uniforms are pushed aside to reveal the décolleté. However, the movie exceeds plot expectations, especially dealing with the relationship between Dr. Jason and the confused, sexy, Loretta. (CJ)