The opening text claims that the movie is the “story of a teenage girl who could be your daughter, your sister…or you!”. I reckon that if you qualify for all three…wait for it…wait for it…you might be a redneck. Either that, or you are very confused, maybe suffering from multiple personality disorder. In that case, I recommend heavy medication.
Well, Judy is a young girl. We know this because she clutches a teddy bear wherever she goes. She just got married to a lawyer in his mid 20’s (Steve), and they get pulled over for speeding. The cop asks Judy how old she is, and she freaks and starts crying as if she was being interrogated at gunpoint. Judy pulls out an LP recording of their wedding ceremony as proof of their marriage, and the cop quickly leaves her alone. Steve calms her down by calling her “delicious”. God damn the fifties were awesome. Further proving my point, we then hear the solid doo wop theme sung by one “Tony Casanova”. Tony, you fucking rock.
Well, the couple visits Judy’s parents to talk about the weather and maybe mention that they happened to get married. Needless to say, the parents are royally pissed, as marrying a 17-year-old girl is just not what proper people do. Mother wants to call the police to have the marriage broken up, but father wisely points out that this is no solution. Thinking about it, I guess I understand why Judy was nervous, being that she didn’t have her parents consent to get married, and a 25-year-old marrying a 17-year-old could be construed as statutory rape. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. As Winger famously implied, seventeen is close enough. Then again, maybe my brain has been rotted by modern immorality.
The couple heads to a truly awesome bohemian café, where the waitress wears a skimpy leotard and goateed hepcats call each other “daddy-o”. There’s also a white dude playing flamenco guitar, but the music doesn’t match his fretwork. Maybe they got a proper latino to actually record the music, and he’s just a white friendly guitar front. Either way, the cats in the crowd are totally digging it. That is, all except a greaseball ruffian who also happens to be Judy’s ex-boyfriend. He is none too thrilled to see that Judy has married some “square”. The greaseball has a goofball greaser friend (he is a ball of grease that is goofy, if you follow) that is always listening to his walkman. Keep in mind that this is 1959. It would be like having your own little spaceship now. It might be just a little radio with no cassette deck capabilities, but it’s still impressive. Either way, the hair gelled ghosts of Judy’s past are coming back to haunt her.
I guess Judy is a virgin (she sure acts like one), so Steve does what any man worth his salt would do and makes his move. He pulls back his robe to show off his chest hair, and also hits a button to unfurl the magic foldout futon. Boy, this movie sure is technologically ahead of its time. Steve finally smooches frigid Judy and, of course, she drops her stuffed animal. I guess this is a classy, symbolic way of saying that she finally got schtupped. Of course, she has to awkwardly head back to high school, and the other girls immediately tease her with a rendition of “Here Comes the Bride”. Even way before Twitter, word sure got around fast.
I thought this underage marriage thing was more acceptable back then. After all, Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year-old cousin, which was a big scandal at the time, but now if you did that, you would get thrown in jail for the rest of your life. You know, if she really did look like a young Winona Ryder, it’s hard to blame him. Perhaps I shouldn’t just come out and say that. Either way, maybe the law has gotten tougher while people have gotten less easily offended.
More to the point, Judy seems like the most honest, moral soul imaginable, so it seems ridiculous that she lives in a world that repeatedly chastises her for her morality. I guess the lesson here is that parents are jerks that occasionally love you, and high school students are complete and utter assholes at all times. They’ll make fun of anyone just to feel better about themselves. I’m pretty sure that if you were a 16-year-old high school student that took a day off to accept the Nobel prize for chemistry, you would get taunted unmercilessly the next day at school.
The movie unfortunately doesn’t concentrate on the more sociological aspects of Judy’s plight, and instead becomes a story about the ex-boyfriend greaser stalking Judy and Steve, trying to break them up to “get his kicks” (including the requisite drag racing/chicken scene). It’s more Cape Fear than Rebel Without a Cause, admittedly. I don’t think you really need a monster when the quiet tragedies of a judgemental world can be quite monstrous to an innocent young girl just looking for love.
Those are some foggy streets.