Two Troubled Teens: Blue Denim (1959)

June 22, 2018 | By

Prior to the blockbuster disaster The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Carol Lynley had worked her way up through teen roles before reprising Janet, the troubled teen she played in the original 1958 Broadway production of Blue Denim, directed by famed stage and occasional screen director Joshua Logan (Picnic, Camelot).

Fox apparently saw value in tackling the play for a film version, and while the hot topic of abortion is never stated directly, it becomes the main crisis which brings the young couple together, divides their families, and leads to a finale that’s in line with the era’s conservative rules which were still governed by the old Production Code.

What still resonates long after the End Credits and Bernard Herrmann’s score have wrapped is Lynley’s compelling performance. It’s probably the key role that enabled her career to progress towards more adult roles, culminating in probably her finest of the 1960s (and maybe her career), Otto Preminger’s Bunny Lake is Missing (1965).

Co-star Brandon deWilde also fared well, transitioning from the cute child star in Shane (1953)  to a more mature role as ‘promising’ son Arthur, and although he later appeared in All Fall Down (1962) and Hud (1963), much of his final work lay in TV before he was killed at age 30 in a traffic accident.

Blue Denim‘s taken a long time to make to to home video – Fox released a MOD DVD-R – and Twilight Time’s Blu-ray sports a crisp transfer that also showcases Herrmann’s peculiarly familiar score. It’s also one the handful of films directed by esteemed screenwriter Philip Dunne whose career at Fox spanned several decades.

The following series of posters indicate the various approaches in selling the film’s unspoken issue, first by highlighting “lost innocence” and a “rude awakening,” and a subsequent name change for its UK release:


Key art for Blue Denim (1959).


Blue Denim becomes Blue Jeans for UK audiences, plus dour quotes.


The emphasis on “nice kids” is supposed to infer average, WASP suburban kids, and instill some apprehension and a curiosity for teens and parents to buy tickets, and perhaps imagine themselves in an ‘unspeakable’ crisis.


Compassion, understanding, sensitivity, but don’t bring the children!


Softening the film’s unmentioned issue to a moment of heartache.


And Carol Lynley ‘showing her approval’ in being locked into a classic 7-year contract / period of studio servitude.


Coming next: Bruno Mattei’s Rip-Off Trilogy: Strike Commando (1987) and Robowar (1988), and the ridiculous sequels to Lucio Fulci’s fleshfeast Zombie 3 (1988) and the utterly ridiculous Zombie 4: After Death (1989) from Severin.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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