The Boy with Green Hair

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The Boy with Green Hair
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph Losey
Produced byDore Schary
Written byBen Barzman
Alfred Lewis Levitt
Based onThe Boy with Green Hair
1946 short story
by Betsy Beaton
StarringRobert Ryan
Pat O'Brien
Dean Stockwell
Music byLeigh Harline
Constantin Bakaleinikoff
CinematographyGeorge Barnes
Edited byFrank Doyle
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • December 27, 1948 (1948-12-27) (U.S.)[1]
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$900,000[2] or $800,000[3]

The Boy with Green Hair is a 1948 American fantasy-drama film in Technicolor directed by Joseph Losey.[4][5] It stars Dean Stockwell as Peter, a young war orphan who is subject to ridicule after he awakens one morning to find his hair mysteriously turned green. Co-stars include Pat O'Brien, Robert Ryan, and Barbara Hale. The film was released on DVD on March 10, 2010 as part of the Warner Archive Collection.[6]


Finding a curiously silent young runaway boy (Dean Stockwell) whose head has been completely shaved, small-town police call in a psychologist (Robert Ryan) and discover that he is a war orphan named Peter Fry. Moving in with an understanding retired actor named Gramps (Pat O'Brien), Peter starts attending school and generally begins living the life of a normal boy until his class gets involved with trying to help war orphans in Europe and Asia.

Peter soon realizes that—like the children on the posters, whose images haunt him—he, too, is a war orphan. The realization about his parents and the work helping the orphans makes Peter turn very serious, and he is further troubled when he overhears the adults around him talking about the world preparing for another war. The next day, after having a bath, Peter is drying his hair with a towel when, to his astonishment, he sees that his hair has turned green, prompting him to run away after being taunted by the townspeople and his peers.

Suddenly, appearing before him in a lonely part of the woods, are the orphaned children whose pictures he saw on the posters. They tell him that he is a war orphan, but that with his green hair he can make a difference and must tell people that war is dangerous for children. He leaves determined to deliver his message to any and all. Upon his return, the townspeople urge Gramps to encourage Peter to consider shaving his hair so that it might grow back normally. Peter returns to the woods to find the orphan children from the posters, but is chased by a group of boys from school who attempt to cut his hair. He agrees to get his head shaved, and the town barber does the job—that night, however, Peter runs away. Later reunited with Gramps, Peter learns that there are adults out there who accept what he has to say and want him to go on saying it. He's sure that his hair will grow back in green again, and he will continue to carry his message.


Dale Robertson, William Smith (actor) and Russ Tamblyn appear, but are not credited. [7]


The song "Nature Boy" written by eden ahbez and sung by an uncredited chorus was a primary theme of the score for the motion picture. Nat King Cole's version of "Nature Boy" shot to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and remained there for eight weeks straight during the summer of 1948.

Cultural references[edit]

The 2009 film Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, which also starred (the adult) Dean Stockwell, made extensive reference to The Boy with Green Hair. Director Edward James Olmos, a fan of Stockwell's earlier film, had a replica of Peter's costume created for a war orphan character in The Plan named John. Olmos stated that he wanted John to have green hair, but the studio refused to allow it.[8]


The film recorded a loss of $420,000.[9]

Although the film was passed with a 'U' certificate by the British Board of Film Censors on November 26, 1948, its UK release was held back until June 19, 1950.

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in 2004's AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs list: "Nature Boy" – Nominated[10]

"In the 40s," wrote OK! of a TV broadcast in 2000, "Dean Stockwell was a cute kid with 16 films already on his CV. This one – a fantasy about a war orphan whose grief makes his hair colour change – was one of the not bad ones (The Mighty McGurk – now, that was a bad one)."[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Boy with Green Hair: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  2. ^ HOLLYWOOD RESUME: Second Film in Anti-Red Cycle Starts -- Addenda By THOMAS F. BRADY HOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 May 1948: X5.
  3. ^ Variety 18 February 1948 p 14
  4. ^ Variety film review; November 17, 1948, page 13.
  5. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; November 20, 1948, page 186.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
  8. ^ io9 Edward James Olmos interview
  9. ^ Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 420
  10. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  11. ^ MacDonald, Bruno (May 19, 2000). "FIlm guide". OK! #213.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]