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“Got-to-See”

Teenpix and the Social Problem Picture — Trends and Cycles

3. 1946 to 1975

2. 1946–1955

  1. Peter Stanfield

Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470671153.wbhaf054

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

How to Cite

Stanfield, P. 2011. “Got-to-See”. The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film. 3:2:51.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

Abstract

In a December 1956 edition of Variety a full page advertisement for a United Artists distributed double bill of The Wild Party and Four Boys and a Gun — a “Sensational Package” — was sold as “The Shock Stories Behind The Rock 'n' Roll Generation.” The Wild Party starred Anthony Quinn and promised to reveal “The New Sin That Is Sweeping America!” A Louella Parsons quote tagged the film as being as “modern as next month.” With no featured starring roles, Four Boys and a Gun carried the tag line “THESE KIDS ARE GOING STRAIGHT … to the electric chair!” The Quinn vehicle is a kidnap drama; the film it was double-billed with centers around the question concerning which of four young hoodlums will take responsibility for a murder committed during the robbery of a boxing arena. Neither film has anything to do with rock 'n' roll — the claim was no more than an expedient exploitation of the latest musical fad, a means toward hyping the idea that the films were intimately tied to the here-and-now. The marketing of the films hangs on the promise of topicality — the stories behind today's headlines that are “as modern as next month” — coupled with shocking revelations — the new sin — producing a compact of public issues, topicality, sensation, and commercial exploitation, or a compact of the social problem picture and the teenpic.

Keywords:

  • juvenile delinquency;
  • teenpic;
  • social problem;
  • trends;
  • cycles;
  • topicality;
  • genre;
  • black leather jackets