Riot in Juvenile Prison
Cast & Crew
Edward L. Cahn
At the Ditman Hall State Training School for Boys, an attempted escape led by young Eddie Bassett results in the death of two other inmates when guards return fire in self-defense. Adverse publicity about the incident prompts an intense public outcry and demands for reform at the severe detention center run by warden Col. Ernest Walton. The governor meets with reporters to declare his support of Walton's handling of the school but also announces that psychiatrist Dr. Paul Furman has been appointed to serve as special advisor to Walton. The reporters are stunned when Paul voices his plan to make Ditman co-educational in an effort to create a more realistic atmosphere. A few days later, under Paul's plan, the school's name is changed to Ditman Youth Community and the girls from Larkin Home for Girls arrive accompanied by matrons Grace Hartwell and school system veteran Bess Monahan. Walton warns Paul about the danger of his plan, but Paul insists his appointment by the governor guaranteed him a free hand in student affairs. Despite Walton's advice, Paul has the boys in solitary, including Eddie, released. When Grace meets with Paul to pick up the schedules she questions him about his plans, but remains doubtful about the success of placing the boys and girls together too soon. That evening, Paul introduces the teenagers to one another in the dining hall. Eddie purposely sits next to shy Kitty Anderson and ignores the brazenly flirtatious overtures by Kitty's roommate Babe. Angered by Eddie and Kitty's immediate rapport, tough Stu Killion threatens Eddie and a fight breaks out between the two. Later, Walton berates Paul for setting up the conditions that prompted the brawl and reveals his intention to file a negative report to the governor about the feasibility of Paul's entire program. Paul meets privately with Eddie to ask him to refrain from fighting and although Paul promises to help Eddie, the boy remains suspicious. Meanwhile Bess suggests to Kitty that she temper her friendship with the boys, but when Kitty admits she likes Eddie, Babe is incensed and another fight breaks out in which Kitty is injured. Grace takes Kitty to the infirmary where they meet Paul who admits he expected an initial period of conflict among the students. Grace remains disapproving until Paul asks for her help and declares he wants what is best for the teens. Over the next several days, Paul conducts a series of personality and aptitude tests. Eddie submits to the tests warily, but grows angry upon learning that while hypnotized by Paul he admitted to an unpleasant childhood with abusive, drunken parents. Shortly thereafter, Paul announces to the teenagers that Ditman will begin a new training program based upon the results of the aptitude tests. Furthermore, Paul declares Ditman will no longer be a prison and the guards will be removed. Eddie, who has long been tormented by abusive guard Andy Quillan, remains determined to have revenge before the guards depart. That evening, Eddie and his friends Matches and Dink plot to attack Quillan before he leaves the grounds. When Paul sees the boys outside after hours he attempts to dissuade them from their plan but is severely beaten. Panicked, Matches and Dink return to their dormitory and Paul angrily tells Eddie he will not report him, but refuses to let his behavior ruin the entire program for the others. Over the next few weeks, the teens settle into Paul's recreational and artistic training program, but Eddie refuses to participate. At the first dance, Eddie reluctantly appears and while dancing with Kitty criticizes Paul and reacts angrily when Kitty sticks up for the positive program. After Eddie departs in a huff, Babe, in a prearranged plan with Stu, tells Kitty that she is no longer jealous of her and claims that Eddie has asked Kitty to meet him near the storeroom. Kitty then goes into the storeroom where she is attacked by Stu. Noticing Kitty's absence at the dance, Grace searches for her and attempts to rescue Kitty but is knocked aside by Stu. Grace's cries attract the other teens and Stu finds himself trapped in the hallway between the students and Paul. Stu viciously attacks Paul who is rescued by Eddie, who has been drawn back to the gym by the commotion. The attack receives front-page newspaper coverage and the governor meets with Paul to express his dismay at the lack of progress at Ditman. Despite Paul's protests that Stu was psychotic and did not belong at Ditman, the governor fires him. Within twenty-four hours, Walton reverts Ditman into a guarded reformatory and declares the girls will be sent back to Larkin. Walton then has Eddie returned to solitary to continue his punishment for his earlier breakout attempt. After enduring a beating by Quillan, however, Eddie knocks the guard unconscious, takes his gun and at the dorms exhorts the other boys to demand the guards be eliminated. When the other boys respond enthusiastically, Eddie breaks into Walton's office to get more arms and takes Quillan hostage. Walton reports the riot, which brings the governor to Ditman. Meanwhile, Kitty finds Eddie and pleads with him not to participate in further violence, but he ignores her. To Walton's dismay, the governor arrives with Paul who immediately insists on confronting Eddie alone. Eddie greets Paul with belligerence and hostility but Paul tells him his behavior only proves Walton's theories about the inability to reform problem youth. Paul pleads with Eddie to call a halt to the situation and allow him to help. With Kitty's added pleas, Eddie agrees and Paul is able to quell the other boys without further incident.
Edward L. Cahn
[richard] Dick Tyler
Jack R. Berne
Orville H. Hampton
Robert E. Kent
Joan St. Oegger
Riot in Juvenile Prison
Just as progress seems within reach, a lust triangle between misunderstood bad boy Scott Marlowe (fresh from The Cool and the Crazy, 1958), pretty shoplifter Virginia Aldridge (whose last credit was as a victim of Jack the Ripper on the Star Trek episode "Wolf in the Fold") and Marlowe's jailhouse rival Richard Tyler (Robert Casey's replacement as Henry Aldrich on NBC's The Aldrich Family) results in a near rape. As another scandal explodes, the armed guards are brought back to Ditman, sparking long simmering resentments on both sides of the wire to explode into a full scale reformatory uprising.
Director/producer Edward L. Cahn was a dab hand at cranking out fast, cheap and profitable B-films that often took their cues from earlier A-list successes. Born in Brooklyn in 1899, the UCLA grad got his industry start working as a film cutter at Universal, editing Paul Leni's The Man Who Laughs (1928) and Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). He shared his first director's credit with George Melford on Homicide Squad (1931) starring Leo Carrillo. Although Cahn worked in many genres, crime was his métier until science fiction became popular in the 1950s. Fans of Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) might note more than a few similarities to Cahn's It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) while Invisible Invaders (1959) seems to have inspired George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968). The public furor over juvenile delinquency and the success of Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause prompted Cahn to turn from fantastic themes to the troubled youth genre, to which he contributed Runaway Daughters (1956), Shake, Rattle and Rock! (1956), Dragstrip Girl (1957) and Riot in a Juvenile Prison, his last word on the subject.
Scenarist Orville H. Hampton would go on to script the proto-disaster flick The Flight That Disappeared (1961) and the cult favorite Jack the Giant Killer (1962). He received an Academy Award® nomination for co-writing the interracial love story One Potato, Two Potato (1964) and later penned the Blaxploitation movies Detroit 9000 (1973) and Friday Foster (1975).
Riot in a Juvenile Prison was an early credit for two charismatic young performers whose careers never quite lived up to their early promise. Dorothy Provine is almost unrecognizable as Babe, a reform school bombshell whose slinky peregrinations are accompanied by a burlesque bump and grind. The South Dakota-born actress had already played the title role in William Witney's The Bonnie Parker Story (1958) and would go on to be Lou Costello's oversized intended in The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959) but remained less famous for her acting than for the men she dated (by report, Frank Sinatra and Glenn Ford). After playing Prohibition flapper Pinky Pinkham for two seasons on ABC's The Roaring Twenties, Provine returned to the big screen for supporting roles in Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Blake Edwards' The Great Race (1965) and Walt Disney's That Darn Cat! (1965) before marrying and retiring at the end of the decade.
Looking like the love child of James Dean and Sal Mineo, Scott Marlowe was visiting a pal on the 20th Century Fox lot when he was discovered by Italian director Pietro Francisci. The chance encounter got the Los Angeles native a small role in Attila (1954), opposite Anthony Quinn and Sophia Loren. Within a few short years, Marlowe racked up an impressive resume of TV credits while playing misunderstood youth offenders in several feature films. (Along with John Cassavetes and Lee Remick, Marlowe tested for but was rejected for Rebel Without a Cause.) Although he officially "dated" co-stars Lola Albright, Leslie Caron and Natalie Wood, Marlowe was claimed as a lover by Tab Hunter in his tell-all 2005 memoir. Scott Marlowe was a cofounder of LA's Theatre West repertory company and kept busy in episodic television until his death from a heart attack in January 2001.
Producer: Robert E. Kent
Director: Edward L. Cahn
Screenplay: Orville H. Hampton
Cinematography: Maury Gertsman
Production Design: William Glasgow
Music: Emil Newman
Film Editing: Edward Mann
Cast: Jerome Thor (Paul A. Furman), Marcia Henderson (Grace Hartwell), Scott Marlowe (Eddie Bassett), John Hoyt (Col. Ernest Walton), Virginia Aldridge (Kitty), Dorothy Provine (Babe), Richard Tyler (Stu Killion), Ann Doran (Bess Monahan).
by Richard Harland Smith
Scott Marlowe obituary by Austin Mutti-Mewse, The Independent
Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star by Tab Hunter
Live Fast, Die Young: The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause by Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel
The Film Encyclopedia by Ephr
Riot in Juvenile Prison
The working title of the film was Riot in Juvenile Jail. A May 1958 Daily Variety news item noted that Imperial Pictures, Inc., another company owned by Edward Small, of which Robert E. Kent was the principal producer and Edward L. Cahn was the principal director, would produce the film. Riot in Juvenile Prison marked the feature film debut of Jerome Thor.
Released in United States 1959
Released in United States 1959