Girls Town

Girls Town is a 1959 film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, starring Mamie Van Doren, Mel Tormé and Ray Anthony. Paul Anka also appears in his first acting role. Van Doren stars as a juvenile delinquent who is sent to a girls school run by nuns, where she finds herself unable to help her sister. The film capitalizes on the 1950s rebellious teen exploitation films, with catfights, car races, music from Anka and The Platters, and sexy outfits.

Girls Town
Girls Town movie poster
Directed byCharles F. Haas
Produced byAlbert Zugsmith
Written byRobert Hardy Andrews
Robert Smith
StarringMamie Van Doren
Mel Tormé
Ray Anthony
Paul Anka
Music byVan Alexander
CinematographyJohn L. Russell
Edited byLeon Barsha
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • October 5, 1959 (1959-10-05)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$457,000[1]
Box office$875,000[1]

The supporting cast includes the offspring of two major silent cinema stars: Charles Chaplin, Jr. and Harold Lloyd Jr.. Also featured is James Mitchum (son of Robert Mitchum) and (as a nun) gossip columnist Sheilah Graham.

Girls Town was lampooned in September 1994 on movie-mocking television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. About 15 minutes of the actual film was cut from this version.

Plot

The movie opens with a young woman fending off an attempted rape. In the process the would-be rapist accidentally falls off a cliff to his death. Circumstantial evidence places 16-year-old delinquent Silver (played by a 27-year-old Van Doren) at the scene and she is sent to Girls Town, a rehabilitation village run by a group of nuns. There she lives with Serafina (Gigi Perreau) and some experienced juvenile delinquents. Trouble and misunderstandings ensue. Troublemaker Fred (Tormé) saw the cliff incident from a distance and realizes it was actually Silver's sister, Mary Lee (Elinor Donahue), who was there. Fred blackmails Mary Lee into being his partner in deadly "hands-off drag racing," then prepares to take her to Tijuana to sell her into the slave trade. Silver finally wins the respect of her Girls Town friends, but can they rescue Mary Lee?

A subplot involves Serafina swooning over famous singer Jimmy (Anka). During the film he sings "Lonely Boy", "It's Time to Cry", "Girls Town Blues", and "Ave Maria". A scene set in a nightclub features The Platters singing "Wish It Were Me".

Cast

Box office

According to MGM records the film earned $375,000 in the US and Canada and $500,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $65,000.[1]

Censorship

When Girls Town was first released in Italy in 1960 the Committee for the Theatrical Review of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities imposed the removal of the scene in which Silver is showering while singing "Hey Mama"[2] because it was considered to be offensive to decency.[3] The official document number is: 32004, it was signed on 1 June 1960 by Minister Domenico Magrì.[3]

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Girls Town was featured in episode #601 of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The episode debuted July 16, 1994, on Comedy Central.[4] The episode featured the debut of the Umbilicus, a tube / tether connecting the Satellite of Love, where Mike Nelson and his robot pals watched the movie, with Deep 13, where the evil scientists who sent him the movies worked and lived.[5]

The episode was ranked #72 on the Top 100 list of episodes as voted upon by MST3K Season 11 Kickstarter backers.[6] Writer Jim Vogel ranked the episode much higher, placing it at #20 (out of 191 total MST3K episodes). Vogel laughs at the casting of Mel Torme as the movie's antagonist, although he appreciates Mamie Van Doren's pulchritude, even if she was years older than the juvenile delinquent she was supposed to be playing. Vogel calls the movie "one of the more inherently watchable dramas ever featured on the show".[7]

The MST3K version of Girls Town was included as part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000, Volume XXXIX DVD collection, released by Shout! Factory in November 21, 2017. The other episodes in the four-disc set include The Amazing Transparent Man (episode #623) and Diabolik (episode #1013). The fourth disc, titled "Satellite Dishes", collected non-movie segments from MST3K episodes that are unlikely to be collected on DVD.[8]

See also

References

  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. "Hey Mama" out-take on YouTube
  3. Italia Taglia Database of the documents produced by the Committee for the Theatrical Review of The Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, from 1944 to 2000.
  4. Episode guide: 601- Girls Town. Satellite News. Retrieved on 2018-07-10.
  5. Beaulieu, Trace; et al. (1996). The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (1st ed.). New York: Bantam Books. p. 13. ISBN 9780553377835.
  6. Bring Back Mystery Science Theater 3000 Update #41. Kickstarter. Retrieved on 2018-07-10
  7. Ranking Every MST3K Episode, From Worst to Best. Vorel, Jim. Paste Magazine. April 13, 2017. Retrieved on 2018-07-10
  8. MST3K: Volume XXXIX Shout! Factory. Retrieved on 2018-07-10.
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