Friday, 20 March 2015

Reform School Girl (1957)



Two things about the image above.  One, the scene above does not appear in the movie.  And two, it was used in France to advertise a Scrabble campaign.  They take their word games seriously, the French.

17-year old Donna lives with her aunt and uncle.  It's not a terribly happy home life, as her aunt constantly criticises her and her uncle is a little too complimentary, if you know what I mean.  He's expressing his appreciation one night when Donna's sort-of boyfriend comes by.  The younger man proves no help, but his friend Vince slugs the uncle good.  So Donna's predisposed to like Vince even before she sees his cool car.

Events lead to Donna and Vince being alone in the vehicle when she finally realises that the car was stolen.  This realisation happens too late, however, as the cops are soon on their tale.  Vince ploughs through a pedestrian in his efforts to escape, then runs off.  The distraught Donna remains in the car, and is arrested.

When she refuses to say who was driving the car - out of fear of what Vince will do to her if she does - Donna is sent to reform school.  It's not so terribly bad there overall, with the warden even agreeing to trial supervised dances between the inmates and some local boys.

And there the movie would end if Vince was not horribly paranoid in addition to all his other faults.  He convinces himself that Donna will spill on him, and then convinces his girl - well, one of them - to get herself committed and "deal" with Donna.  Quite why this woman is so head over heels for him that she agrees, I have no idea, but she does.

Will Donna survive the new inmate's attentions?  Will she win the heart of one of the boys at the dance?  It's doubtful you'll care all that much.  Everyone in the cast does their best with the material - and on the whole they're not bad actors - but there's only so much shine you can put on a lump of coal.  The script here is pretty weak, dragging quiet a lot when Donna first gets "sent up", and then devolving into sillier and sillier situations as the anti-Donna clique goes to greater and greater extents to ensure she "gets hers".  I can only assume that the place runs on the honour system given how easy it is for the inmates to roam all over it in the middle of the night.

There's not a lot here to recommend.

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