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Cherry Pop

'Blue Denim: Cinema Archives'
(Carol Lynley, Brandon De Wilde, Macdonald Carey, et al / DVD / NR / (1959) 2016 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Two young teenagers faced with the coming of an unwanted baby attempt to find a solution to the problem. This situation is complicated by both youngster's inability to confide in their parents. Based on the hit Broadway play.

DVD Verdict: The Production Code was still in firm control of movie-making in 1959, but 'Blue Denim' really stretched the limits in its story of teenage pregnancy. Janet (Carol Lynley) and Arthur (Brandon de Wilde) are superb as high school lovers who must deal with Janet's unplanned pregnancy. There's a frank subplot about abortion and good glimpses of teenage life in the late 50s. The final reunion scene in a train's passenger car is very touching, as the young couple decide to marry and build a life together.

Even better than Lynley and de Wilde is Warren Berlinger, who plays Arthur's wise guy but good-hearted best friend Ernie. Berlinger brings great credibility to his role, which is essential to the movie's message. Macdonald Carey and Marsha Hunt are also very good as Arthur's parents. The funniest scene has Ernie with classmate Cherie (Roberta Shore), singing onstage at an afterschool party—no one can sing "Who, Baby?" quite like Berlinger (after which he says, "What do you expect for a buck? Pat Boone?"). The song is followed by Arthur catching Janet reading a chapter called "The First Stages of Pregnancy" in the school library.

To me, the most astonishing thing about 'Blue Denim' is the youth of the main cast. De Wilde and Lynley were about 17 when this movie was made, Berlinger was 22, and Roberta Shore was 16. They all conduct themselves like old pros. This is no shallow youth soap opera, but instead is an excellent, frank, and under-appreciated little late 1950s gem. This movie's a real winner with a great cast; it's worth looking for. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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