March 24, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: THE DELINQUENTS (1957)

Starring Tom Laughlin, Peter Miller, Dick Bakalyan, Rosemary Howard. Directed by Robert Altman. (1957, 72 min).

One might be tempted to write off The Delinquents as another silly teen-sploitation picture of the 50s, heavy-handedly depicting youth gone wild, complete with a tacked-on voiceover which purports the film to be a dire warning to parents everywhere. Shot on miniscule budgets with casts we'd never see again, a lot of these movies are certainly chuckleworthy today.

But The Delinquents does have some historical significance. Not the story, mind you; it's another tale of a young teen briefly falling in with the wrong crowd, which were popular drive-in fodder at the time. However, this was the feature debut of none-other than Robert Altman, who'd go on to epitomize the romantic image of the maverick, independent director. Though essentially a director-for-hire, those familiar with his work might still see a few of the touches he'd become known for, such as the impromptu nature of the wild party sequence.

Scotty is challenged to an apple sculpting contest.
Altman gets pretty decent performances from his cast, which also features a very young Tom Laughlin as Scotty, who'd later find his own brand of fame in the Billy Jack films. Ironically, his performance is actually the worst in the entire film. Peter Miller, on the other hand, is suitably menacing as Cholly, the leader of this gang of hellraisers who insinuates himself on Scotty.

The Delinquents is obviously a minor footnote in Altman's filmography. Still, every director had to start somewhere, and it's interesting to watch this film with the hindsight of what he'd eventually become. And, truth be told, the movie is actually pretty good 


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