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Mad Youth

Mad Youth(1939)

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teaser Mad Youth (1939)

Most teenagers would feel awkward catching her mother sweet-talking a gigolo on the phone, but Marian (Mary Ainslee) seizes the opportunity to have some of the gang over while mom Lola (Betty Compson) is out playing bridge with escort Count De Koven (Dutch actor Willy Costello). That wild party, full of strip poker, jitterbugging and baton twirling (??), is Marian's first entry into the seedy underworld of marriage-for-hire and sex trafficking. A great example of the "cautionary film" exploitation subgenre, Mad Youth has a wild, campy, Reefer Madness-y feel without that film's hysteric finger-wagging, with sassy, salty dialogue ("What happened? Did he walk out on her?" "No - he walked IN on her.") and a pre-Code piquancy. Plus it's nice to see Compson (whose lack of shame for taking on Poverty Row projects shines on the screen) in her element as a man-hungry mom who refuses to go down for the count. See what baton twirling can lead to?

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