Film Review: The Violent Years (1956)

Also known as: Female, Teenage Girl Gang, Girl Gang Terrorists (alternative titles)
Release Date: 1956
Directed by: William Morgan
Written by: Ed Wood (uncredited)
Music by: Michael Terr (as Manuel Francisco)
Cast: Jean Moorhead, Barbara Weeks, Arthur Millan, Glen Corbett, I. Stanford Jolley, Timothy Farrell

Dél Productions, Headliner Productions, 65 Minutes (original cut), 57 Minutes (DVD cut)

Review:

“These aren’t kids. These are morons!” – Detective

The Violent Years is the most successful film of Ed Wood’s career. The sad part about that is that he didn’t direct it, he just wrote it. What’s even sadder is that he didn’t even get an official credit on the picture.

Now while this is far from a good film, I did enjoy it, as the story has that sort of bonkers Ed Wood charm to it. And maybe this goes to show that his work gave way to better results when it had someone else direct his written words. But I still love most of Wood’s directed films despite the general consensus about them.

Like several flicks that Wood was involved with, this one was showcased on Mystery Science Theater 3000. That’s also probably why this is still somewhat remembered today.

This is an indie exploitation film at its core but it is also flim-noir and a fairly compelling crime thriller.

It stars Jean Moorhead, who is most famous for being a 1950s Playboy Playmate. And while she didn’t have the acting chops of noir’s greatest femme fatales, she did have a presence when she was on the screen and if I’m being honest, she does kind of carry the picture. She did end up having seventeen acting credits when it was all said and done and this film falls in the middle of her thirteen year run as an actress, so she wasn’t really a newbie and had done some TV and uncredited work before being given the lead here.

The film is pretty short and it has some dull moments but when the crimes are happening the scenes are energetic and actually kind of fun. I love bad girl gang movies and this is no exception. It’s pulpy, gritty but it has a coolness to it. And again, it exudes that hokey but swell Ed Wood charm.

Out of all the motion pictures that MST3K featured, this is one of the few that I can watch without the added riffing.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: other films written by or directed by Ed Wood, as well as other schlock-y noir pictures.

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