Plot: All Scotty (Tom Laughlin) wants out of life is his beautiful girlfriend Janice (Rosemary Howard), as the two are going steady and have a great relationship. But Janice’s father isn’t pleased with how serious the two have become, so he orders Scotty to leave Janice alone, at least for a while. He says that in about six months if the two still feel connected, then Scotty can resume seeing Janice. This is devastating for both young people, so Scotty heads to the drive-in to try to take his mind off his problems. But there he is dragged into the hijinks of some local hoodlums, lead by Cholly (Peter Miller). Cholly seems sympathetic to Scotty’s situation and offers to pretend to date Janice, so that Scotty can still see his love. But Cholly and his crew aren’t good Samaritans and for little to no reason, they decide to make trouble for Scotty and Janice. Now involved with a band of delinquent misfits, can Scotty see the truth in time or will things escalate before he can break from the group?
Entertainment Value: This movie is best known thanks to being famed filmmaker Robert Altman’s first directorial exercise. I am sure fans will appreciate seeing his debut work, but The Delinquents is of more interest to drive-in movie fans, in my opinion. The story is classic “youth gone wild” propaganda, showing us innocent teens put through the wringer by some hoods, while the parents are helpless on the sidelines. A “scared straight” experience, this movie even has ominous narration bookends, as a powerful voice warns us that society will indeed end if apathy continues. The Delinquents might not push boundaries like some of the more salacious films of this kind, but it is quite fun to watch. Tom Laughlin (from Billy Jack) is here in the lead, but the real stars are the sleazy toughs, played with great enthusiasm by Peter Miller and Richard Bakalyan. Miller shines here and is impossible to like, as he exudes smarm and recklessness. I think this is a solid movie on all sides, but fans of the “youth gone wild” genre will be most into this one. So if you love tales of innocent youth gone wrong or are curious about Altman’s debut, check it out.
No naked girls, but there’s a pretty intense (for the time) scene where Cholly seems to have rape on his mind. As far as blood, we have a few instances, but it is all non graphic and just deals with the aftermath. The highlight is when Cholly loses his cool during a gas station heist and cracks the attendant with the pump’s nozzle. There’s other violence as well, with a number of fights and some forced dancing that really upsets Janice. The dialogue is terrific here, with a good amount of dated, but hilarious tough guy talk from the hoodlums. The adults are also fun to watch, with wisdom and overreactions to share. The Delinquents escalates more than you might expect, but the really horrific stuff is more hinted at. The scene with Cholly being handsy with Janice, for example. Even so, for a 1957 movie about the dangers of societal collapse, this is one fun picture.
Overall Insanity: 3/10