Youth Aflame (1944)

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Well, maybe getting a bit overheated . . . but in a thoroughly wholesome way!
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vt Hoodlum Girls
US / 61 minutes / bw / Jay-Dee-Kay, Continental Dir & Scr: Elmer Clifton Pr: J.D. Kendis Story: Helen Kiely Cine: Jack Greenhalgh Cast: Joy Reese, Warren Burr, Kay Morley, Michael Owen, Rod Rogers, Edwin Brian, Julie Duncan, Sheila Roberts, Edward Cassidy, Mary Arden, Duke Johnson, Johnny Duncan.

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I confess it was the variant title that sold me on this one.

Stuffy bank guard Mr. White (Cassidy), a widower, is single-handedly raising two daughters of a dangerous age. The younger, Katy (Reese), is prim, righteous and self-righteous; she and the equally wholesome all-American head boy of her high school, Frank Monaghan (Burr), have their cute little hearts set on each other. The older White girl, Laura (Morley), is the wild one; she has her heart set on small-time punk Al Simpson (Owen), who encourages her to drink alcohol in nightclubs:

Al: “Laura’s free and . . . well, just old enough for me.”

Today Al calls by to pick up Laura for a date and sees Mr. White cleaning one of his collection of guns. He tells Laura that, if she really loves him, she’ll steal the gun for him. Later in the movie, Al and his slimy sidekick Harry Ketchall (Brian)—who, in an important subplot, has a hankering after Katy and a Trumpean way of expressing it—will use the gun in an attempted mugging.

But back to the present. Soon after Al and Laura have left the White kitchen, teenage-liaison cop Amy Clark (Arden) arrives in it. She’s concerned that teenagers are going astray not just because of parental disinterest but through the lack of suitable social facilities. A local businessman has offered the use of an empty store should the kids want to set up a jive club; to set the joint a-jumpin’ they could even have a milk bar!

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Amy Clark (Mary Arden) wants to expand the local yoof’s access to milk bars.

The wholesome Katy thinks this is a fabulous idea. The wholesome Frank thinks this is a fabulous idea. Their wholesome pal Lester (Rogers), a self-styled intellectual who serves as a sort of walking encyclopedia, thinks this is a fabulous idea. The unwholesome Al and Laura have left by now, but we can guess they’d probably think this is an idea that sucks major-league, milk bar or no milk bar . . . although, as we see in due course, Laura sees in it the opportunity to tell Dad she’s off to knock back the nourishing milk at the jive club when really she’s sneaking away to Continue reading

Swamp Woman (1941)

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A jailbird on the run and a burlesque dancer meet treachery in the swampy vastness!

US / 68 minutes / bw / PRC Dir: Elmer Clifton Pr: George R. Batcheller, Max Alexander, George M. Merrick Scr: Arthur G. Durlam Story: Fred McConnell Cine: Eddie Linden Cast: Ann Corio, Jack La Rue, Mary Hull, Ian MacDonald, Jay Novello, Richard Deane, Lois Austin, Earl Gunn, Guy Wilkerson, Jimmy Aubrey, Carlin Sturdevant, Ernie Adams, Frank Hagney.

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Our tale begins with a preamble that sets the scene:

“Nearly three hundred years ago, a proud and self-reliant people founded a community within the swampy vastness of the deep south. Today, the descendants of the founders maintain traditional independence, many even choosing to ignore the world beyond their barricade of swamp waters.”

Heading into this swampy vastness is a runaway convict, Jeff Carter (Deane), hotly pursued by a rifle-toting Detective-Lieutenant Rance (MacDonald), who wears a marshal’s star for reasons I can’t quite fathom, plus an unnamed guard (Hagney) and a pack of dogs that (presumably for budgetary reasons) we never see but just hear plaintively howling. Says Rance:

“There may be a hundred villages yonder, but if it takes from now ’til doomsday I’ll search them all to find Jeff Carter, and unless he makes a foolish move I’ll bring him in alive . . . but, dead or alive, I’ll bring him in.”

Swamp Woman - 1 Rance tells the guard that 'dead or alive, I'll bring him in'

Detective-Lieutenant Rance (Ian MacDonald) tells the guard (Frank Hagney) that “dead or alive, I’ll bring him in”!

Jeff runs many a mile, swims a river, struggles through undergrowth and is just about dead on his feet when he at last reaches some human habitation, the cabin of sparky young bride-to-be Elizabeth “Lizbet” Tollington (Hull). She’s been told by local wise-woman Granny Grundy (Sturdevant) of a superstition that, Continue reading