Mad Youth (1940)

“Aren’t you a little bit ashamed to sell yourself to women?”

According to the tawdry morality tale Mad Youth there’s a direct connection between the delinquency of parents and the delinquency of their children. In this over-the top melodrama, there’s no cliche spared as a delinquent mother and precocious daughter are pitted against one another as rivals for the same European gigolo. If you appreciate Trash Cinema, then chances are you’ll enjoy the questionable merits of Mad Youth.

In this sordid tale, middle aged, divorced and lonely Marian Morgan (Mary Ainslee) spends all of her alimony money on gigolos she employs as her escorts. She likes them young–in their late twenties–and if they claim to be European nobility, that’s even better. One evening, her latest gigolo, Count DeHoven (Willy Castello) meets Marian’s nubile young daughter, Lucy (Betty Compson), and there’s an instant attraction. Soon mother and daughter are squabbling over the same stud. And it doesn’t take long before the claws are out, and the fur flies as both women exchange nasty comments.

Don’t approach this film expecting serious cinema–Mad Youth is Trash Cinema with a High Camp Factor, spotty acting, and bad lines loaded with double entendre. There’s a lot packed into this relatively short film–a wild teenage party complete with some great jitterbug sequences, flamenco dancing, and even a game of strip poker. And one of the best features of this film is that it doesn’t bother with subtleties. Marian Morgan, for example, one of the escort agency’s “best customers” is forthright with the statement that she likes her men “around 27 or 28” because that’s “right around” her own age. A great deal of the dialogue is preposterous and stagy–with lines such as “You ought to realize, mother, that you’re no longer attractive to young men” “I’m saving you for a very special customer” and my personal favourite–“Don’t you realize, some of their customers are criminals, morons, or people who are mentally or physically diseased.” Directed by Melville Shyer, this Alpha DVD print is acceptable. Look for a pair of split trousers during a fight sequence towards the end of the film.

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