krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
In a different decade, "I Accuse My Parents" might have been a "juvenile delinquency" film sort of like "The Violent Years." It was made in the 1940s, though, so it's at least distinctive; there might even be a trace of "film noir" to go with its "gangster movie" cliches. Of course, perhaps the second half of that might be safer to say when it comes to Mystery Science Theater movies...

Things start off (after Tom Servo, with Crow's assistance, has painted himself solid pink and made a big deal of being a "real boy" and "naked" and the theme is sort of continued with the mad scientists inventing a cake mix that comes with a live exotic dancer, only for TV's Frank to stick the batter in the oven with the dancer already "folded in") with the short "The Truck Farmer." As another Encyclopaedia Britannica short ("I wonder if they sold this film door to door."), it informs us how much more fortunate we are than the pioneers in being able to eat vegetables year-round. ("Here's a five inch nail for dessert. Go nuts.") This is made possible through bulldozers ripping through forest ("Here, thousands of acres of rain forest are cleared away. Who cares?"), tractors chugging around ("Harrowing, isn't it?"), and chemicals of every sort being blasted onto the fields at every opportunity ("There's nothing we can't spray!" "Now this tomato is highly deformed, but cut off the eyes and it's good eating!") until at last the migrant workers can start the harvest. ("These select few are making three cents a day." "I'm from Canada. What am I doing here?" "A preteen is put to work. Her beauty will soon fade.") It all offers plenty of chances for amusing "well, we know better now" commentary.

As for the movie, it begins with the young Jimmy Wilson standing on trial and at last speaking up in his own defence. He accuses his parents ("We have a title!"), and the flashback sets in ("Maybe he just suspects his parents at this point.") to when Jimmy has won an essay contest on happy family life ("Oh boy oh boy, I won. After eleven years at high school, I finally won!") only to return to his socialite parents, his mother hitting the bottle at every opportunity and leaving them around the house ("Went to store, scotch in fridge, love mom.") and his father out playing cards with his cronies and pressing large-denomination bills into his son's hand instead of listening to him for more than a few moments. ("This guy's made more money today than I did all through high school!") Jimmy's poetic exaggerations have managed to get his mother invited to school; after his father laughs at her outfit ("She's got a sea anemone on her head.") she shows up drunk.

Now changed from teenage sweater and shirt to a snappy suit, tie, and hat (when I first saw the episode, I was convinced Jimmy had dropped out of high school after the humiliation), Jimmy manages to get a job as a shoe salesman. His very first customer is the attractive night club singer Kitty Reed. ("Can I show you something in a size me?") As the romance deepens and Jimmy keeps stretching the truth about his parents, he runs into the older "businessman" Charlie Blake ("So Jimmy: do you like your kneecaps?"), who's also connected in some darker fashion to Kitty. Jimmy foolishly reaches for the bill only to find even the largesse of his parents won't let him pay it off; Blake offers Jimmy a harmless job delivering unidentified packages to suspicious people.

At last, suspicion starts to get through to Jimmy as one "delivery" goes bad; Kitty also makes a big show of dumping him (with Blake hiding in her closet). He plunges into the night only to get roughed up by thugs, and runs away from home ("I got peanut butter, and underwear, and that's all I need!" "Problem with mob, on the lam, accusingly yours, Jimmy.") after being sure to fetch the family gun from the desk drawer. At a low ebb, he enters a cafe ("I don't know if I'll find any Thai food in this town.") prepared to stick the place up, only to find a saintly short-order cook (with a just as "familiar" gravelly city-type voice) who sets him on the right path through a hamburger on the house, a furnished room in the back, and church every Sunday. At last, Jimmy returns to bring Blake in; arriving ahead of the cops, there's a scuffle and Blake is shot. ("Well, so much for the whole he's coming with me scenario.")

With everything explained, the judge gives Jimmy a minimum sentence to be served in the dubious custody of his parents, and then delivers a speech to the camera ("Message coming in!") about the importance of parenting. It all adds up to a perhaps even surprisingly entertaining episode, with some standout "host segments" including Gypsy "lip-synching" to one of Kitty's songs (with Joel as a succession of audience members), "art therapy" featuring ideal families (Tom's drawing has his mother Hayley Mills, his father Gigantor, and his mother Peggy Cass; Gypsy's drawing has things as they are now except that Joel's jumpsuit hasn't been converted to its "shorts" version yet and Richard Basehart is watching from above), and Crow and Tom's own unique interpretation of the diner holdup.

March 2017

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