Youth Runs Wild

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Youth Runs Wild
Youth Runs Wild title.jpg
title card
Directed by Mark Robson
Produced by Val Lewton
Written by John Fante
Herbert Kline (story)
Ardel Wray
(add'l dialogue)
Starring Bonita Granville
Kent Smith
Jean Brooks
Glen Vernon
Vanessa Brown
Music by Paul Sawtell
Cinematography John J. Mescall
Edited by John Lockert
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • September 1, 1944 (1944-09-01) (New York City)
Running time
67 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Youth Runs Wild is a 1944 B movie about unattentive parents and juvenile delinquency, produced by Val Lewton, directed by Mark Robson and starring Bonita Granville, Kent Smith, Jean Brooks, Glen Vernon and Vanessa Brown. It was written by John Fante, Herbert Kline and Ardel Wray.


Cast notes


Edward Dmytryk, who had recently directed the sensationalistic films Hitler's Children and Behind the Rising Sun (both in 1943), was initially set to direct Youth Runs Wild – which at various time had the working titles "The Dangerous Age", "Look to Your Children" and "Are These Our Children?" – but he left to direct Tender Comrade.[3] The film went into production under director Mark Robson, a regular in the Val Lewton unit, from 3 November to 21 December 1943.[5] For the shoot, the cinematographer, John J. Mescall, experimented with a new "swivel lens" that would allow a nearly infinite depth of focus.[3]

The film was inspired by a photo essay that appeared in Look magazine on 21 September 1943.[6] Look, however, did not like the completed film, describing it as an "outworn, stale documentary", and they refused to promote the film in the magazine, or even to allow their name to be used in the film's credits. Some copies of the film do carry on the main title card (see the image in the infobox at the head of this article) the legend:

Inspired by the LOOK Magazine Picture Story

The film's technical advisor, Ruth Clifton, was a teenager whose example of starting a youth recreation center in Moline, Illinois, inspired others around the country to do the same thing.[7] RKO attempted to position the film as authentic by showing it to various state and local authorities concerned with juvenile delinquency, but they also did not receive the film well,[3] even though one of the writers, Herbert Kline was a noted director of documentaries about social issues.[8] The studio's efforts did bring the film to the attention of the U.S. State Department, which expressed concern that focusing on juvenile delinquency at that moment might have a detrimental effect on national morale.[7]

Lewton argued that the intent of the film was to draw attention to a national problem and help bring about measures to solve it, which would do the country more good than harm.... RKO decided not to pull the film from active production, but because of its controversial subject matter, Lewton was given more supervision than usual, much to his displeasure.[9]

RKO tested two versions of the film, Lewton's and another in which several scenes had been cut, including one where an abused teenager killed his sadistic father.[3] The final released version was the studio's cut. As a result, some of the actors listed in the credits do not actually appear in the film.[10] Lewton later disavowed the final version of the film and attempted to have his name removed from it.[7]

Youth Runs Wild was premiered in New York City on 1 September 1944[11] and went into general release in January 1945.[12] It was not well received and lost $45,000.[3]


  1. ^ IBDB Vanessa Brown
  2. ^ IMDB "The Seven Year Itch"
  3. ^ a b c d e f TCM Notes
  4. ^ IMDB Elizabeth Russell (I)
  5. ^ IMDB Business data
  6. ^ TCM Screenplay info
  7. ^ a b c Jay S. Steinberg "Youth Runs Wild" (TCM article)
  8. ^ IMDB Herbert Kline
  9. ^ Edmund G. Bansak, Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career, McFarland & Co., 1995. ISBN 978-0-7864-1709-4
  10. ^ IMDB Notes
  11. ^ IMDB Release dates
  12. ^ TCM Overview

External links[edit]