Wednesday, February 10, 2010

★★½ The Green-Eyed Blonde (1957)

BIG BUST OUT: The Green-Eyed Blonde (1957) Full Review

The Green Eyed BlondeHere's a misleading title produced by Doris Day's sketchy third husband, Martin Melcher, for the popular JD market. It does contain a curvaceous teen named Greeneyes, a.k.a. Phyllis (Susan Oliver), but this sordid tale is really about ticked off little Betsy (Linda Plowman), the new fish at The Martha Washington School for Girls. After a kooky credit sequence and theme song resembling a 50's sitcom, we learn that Betsy is being incarcerated for giving birth and not revealing who knocked her up!
The Green Eyed BlondeEveryone but the audience is clueless to the fact that the father of her child is the boyfriend of Betsy's alcoholic mother. When these sauced guardians show up on visiting day to inform Betsy they are taking the unwanted runt to an orphanage, suicidal inmate Cuckoo (Norma Jean Nilsson) snatches the baby from a wooden crate in the backseat of their car. It takes half a day and a few bars later before they realize the little bastard is gone. After a few seconds of drunken thought, they return to the reformatory to inform Betsy they found a good home for her baby.
The inmates hide the toddler and form stronger bonds from the new responsibilities of motherhood and Betsy finally warms up to her kid, but the staff eventually becomes suspicious when the girls constantly break into loud group singing to cover the babies crying and Renie (Beverly Long) is busted burying soiled diapers made from the disappearing linen. The baby is found in the possession of Greeneye and taken to an orphanage resulting in a massive and quite impressive reform school riot.
The Green Eyed BlondeTHE GREEN-EYED BLONDE tries to cram as many moral arguments into the running time as possible. Most of its ideas center on the answer to juvenile delinquency and reformation being the need for a loving family environment. Surprisingly, for the time,  this isn't a segregated facility and African American Inmate Trixie (Tommie Moore) is the only character who is reformed when her father returns from overseas and gives her the love that her busy working Aunts can't deliver. THE GREEN-EYED BLONDE puts forth some fairly progressive racial attitudes for a film that dishes up such heavy spoonfuls of traditional male ideas of a woman’s role in society. When the inmates name the child Buddy because a baby is a girl's best friend, you really get a good serving of the backward ideas on display.    
The Green Eyed BlondeOscar winner Dalton Trumbo's (ROMAN HOLIDAY, JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN) script even tosses in some Christian pro-life messages in the form of a new, caring head matron who grew up in an orphanage and turned out just fine; the importance of having an infant around at Christmas like baby Jesus, and an outlandish moment when Cuckoo, to the horror of the sane inmates, kills a kitten because she felt it was better off dead since nobody wanted it. These are all with varying degrees of subtly and for the most part enhance the exploitation experience and stifle the intended message.
The Green Eyed BlondeSo what about Greeneyes? Well, her story feels like an added wrap around to cash in on the success of UNTAMED YOUTH with Mamie Van Doren from the same year. Susan Oliver does appear throughout the film, but often the camera will cut within a scene to her on a different set. After being the one caught with the baby and given a longer sentence, she breaks out and reunites with her paroled boyfriend. We later hear on a radio that the two died in a police shoot out. Yeah, it's a half-assed attempt at the virtues of virginity negated by the fact that they were running away to get married anyway?!? Isn't this thing about the power of love and family? I guess family does win out since Betsy never fingers the rapist and her mother doesn't do a stint for child abandonment. Maybe the message is really, “Don’t be a snitch!” There is plenty of jailhouse code on display for one to make the case. Anyway, everything abruptly ends leaving many plots unresolved. If you don't take this garbage seriously, it's a quick watch full of chuckles, head scratchers and the occasional jaw dropper. Did I mention the riot? I must admit, I did enjoy watching a gaggle of gals do demo on a staircase, trash some windows and fling themselves at barb wire fences. It was more lively than most of these reform school yawns.
For you Trekies out there, Susan Oliver went on to play Nina in the two part STAR TREK Menagerie episodes. Producer Martin Melcher would go on to squander Doris Day's money in bad investments, turn down the offer for old Doris to play Mrs. Robinson in THE GRADUATE (without her knowledge) and die right after signing his wife to a CBS TV series (without her consent). Obviously, Melcher liked to live up to the high moral codes of the pictures he produced.
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