Bad Boy (1949 film)

Bad Boy is a 1949 film starring Audie Murphy in his first leading role. It was directed by Kurt Neumann.[1]

Bad Boy
Directed byKurt Neumann
Produced byPaul Short
StarringAudie Murphy
Lloyd Nolan
Jane Wyatt
Music byPaul Sawtell
CinematographyKarl Struss
Edited byWilliam Austin
Otho Lovering (sup)
Distributed byAllied Artists Pictures
Release date
  • February 22, 1949 (1949-02-22)
Running time
86 min.
CountryUnited States


Orphan Danny Lester is a delinquent boy of seventeen who is on the run from the law. He has temporarily taken his refuge working as a bellboy in a hotel in Texas, and robs a game of dice taking place at the hotel. He is caught and sentenced to twenty years by Judge Florence Prentiss. It is decided he is to serve in a juvenile reformatory until he is old enough to serve in an actual prison.

Marshal Brown is superintendent of the Variety Club's Boys' Ranch and pleads to the judge that Danny is to be put in his custody on the ranch instead of the reformatory, and the judge agrees. Marshal and his co-worker "Chief" take Danny to the ranch, where he meets some of the other boys residing there.

Danny behaves badly towards Chief, but is ridiculed in front of the other boys, who make fun of him after that. Danny is put on kitchen duty under the nice Mrs. Brown. Still he is a hellraiser, and one night he steals a horse, rides into the nearest town and robs a jewelry store of its cash. He mails the money in an envelope to himself at the ranch.

When Danny gets into a fight with two of the other boys who make fun of him, Chief tells them to settle in the boxing ring. Danny ultimately wins by foul play and is even more detested by the other boys, who all give him the silent treatment.

Marshal wants to help Danny out, making him join a game of makeshift polo, and after the game, Danny wants to buy the horse that Ted owns and has bought with all his savings for $200. Marshal becomes suspicious, wondering where Danny has got money to buy a horse.

Marshal decides to make an effort to improve Danny's attitude. He talks to Danny's step parent, Arnold Strawn. He also gets a story from Lila Strawn, Danny's stepsister, who claims that Danny deliberately killed his mother by poisoning her.

The truth is that Danny tried to help her by sneaking pills to her when Arnold refused to give it to her to help cure her illness. Instead Arnold wanted to hypnotize the illness away. Unfortunately, the pills Danny got were sleeping pills, which ended up killing the mother. Lila accused her stepbrother of murder, and he beat her and ran away.

As Marshal begins to fathom the causes of Danny's behavior, Danny again escapes the ranch, this time burglarizing a store for clothes and a gun. He is caught red handed and shot by the sheriff as he escapes on a horse.

The sheriff comes to the ranch the next day, asking for the guilty boy. Danny escapes by stealing a car and is chased by the police. He ultimately crashes the car into a tree and runs into the woods, injured and shocked.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Brown has received a message that Danny's stepfather and stepsister have been killed in an explosion. Marshal investigates into the death of his mother and finds out she actually died from natural causes and not the sleeping pills that Danny gave her.

Marshal goes after Danny into the woods and finds him. After telling him what he found out about the death of his mother, Danny gives himself up to the police and is taken to a hospital. There he is visited by a former accomplice, Joe, the one who helped rob the dice game in the hotel. Joe gets past the police guards, and tries to stop Danny from telling on him.

Joe tries to help Danny escape and knocks out the policeman guarding the room, when Mrs. Brown enters. She tells Danny that she and her husband want to give him a home, but Joe points a gun at her. Danny overpowers Joe, and Marshal and Chief come to the rescue.

Back in court, Marshall stands up for Danny, and he is only sentenced to another six months at the ranch. This time Danny's attitude is changed and he comes out of there a better man, who goes on to study engineering at Texas A & M to lead a normal, good life.[2]



Despite having been a decorated combat veteran five years previously, Murphy convincingly played a youthful teenager in the film. He was cast at the insistence of Texas theater owners who helped finance the film.[3]

To the end of the film is appended producer Paul Short's acknowledgement thanking Variety Clubs International, "which has 8,000 members—representing 17,000 theatres and is operating 100 charitable institutions in 43 cities and has expended twenty-two million dollars benefitting [sic] five million underprivileged children."

The ranch scenes were not filmed on the actual Variety Clubs ranch in Texas that inspired the film, but instead in Thousand Oaks, California.


The film was released in the 43 cities with Variety Clubs.[4]


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