krpalmer: (mst3k)
krpalmer ([personal profile] krpalmer) wrote2011-11-13 11:59 am
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MST3K 112: Untamed Youth

Heading all the way back to the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I've reached the one episode of that initial run on cable that can't quite be summarized as involving "mystery science." That's not to say "Untamed Youth" isn't a "genre picture" in its own way, but in introducing the exploitation of juvenile delinquency (or at least a mild form of it) and singing youths (rather a lot of that) it is different for its time.

After our heroes comment almost approvingly on the movie being a Warner Brothers picture, things start off with a young fugitive being hunted down by police in the middle of a bare field (complete with "riffs" about hiding behind the credits), and then sisters Janey and Penny Lowe (who's played by Mamie Van Doren, who would later appear in "Girls Town") are arrested for skinny-dipping while hitchhiking off to Hollywood. ("So, I understand you two are untamed.") A middle-aged female judge sends them off to the cotton farm of the stiff, well-groomed Mr. Tropp (who just happens to be romancing the older judge), where a whole bunch of really pretty swell young offenders toil in the hot sun but still have the energy to hold riotous dance parties (for a period movie, anyway) at night. ("It's sort of like Up With People. In prison.") The not quite as free-spirited Bob Steele ("Hi, I'm Wrought Iron!"), son of the judge, gets sent to the farm for gainful employment, and is soon investigating the shameful living conditions. Things come to a head when Tropp makes his latest pass at the female offenders on Penny and someone (who we keep being reminded was only called by the nickname "Baby") collapses and dies five months pregnant ("Gee, I'm sorry we even made fun of this movie.") In the big showdown, the judge does the right thing and Penny gets on TV for a somewhat synthetic calypso performance ("This is probably the longest minute in film history, you realise.") while Janey hooks up with Bob to continue farming, hopefully in a less exploitative fashion.

I've seen this episode held up as the series starting to ramp up as the first season comes to a close (helped along by the movie itself), but I do have to admit to a similar feeling to the episodes just preceding it, that the "riffing" is picking up in frequency but can still seem kind of bland. A lot of quips seem to involve making references I only "get" on an almost abstract level, such as making a big deal about one of the young women resembling Greg Brady of "The Brady Bunch." Still, there's a good bit of genuine good spirits to the episode.