Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Video `Kids' from Other Generations

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Video `Kids' from Other Generations

Article excerpt

When parents and other "concerned adults" run into something as brutal as Larry Clark's new film "Kids," they tend to throw up their hands and bemoan the inevitable corruption of American youth. "How dare they!" grown-ups are already exclaiming. "All that graphic drug use and talk of sex will backfire - it'll put ideas into our kids' heads."

There's no question that Clark and his cast of young teens obliterate old barriers. But don't get too upset. Each generation has had its filmic convention-breakers, as these titles show.

*"Dead End" (1937). The movies' first sawed-off gangsters were called the Dead End Kids or Bowery Boys. While Huntz Hall, Leo Gorcey, et al., would go on to star in a string of low-budget comedies, they were, in the beginning, tough and unprincipled. William Wyler directed this adaptation of the Sidney Kingsley play, which, like "Kids" all these years later, argues that environment (read the slums of New York) plays a key role in the making of a street punk.

*"The Wild One." (1954) Post-war teen angst found the perfect avatar in Marlon Brando's Johnny, leader of the Black Rebels motorcycle gang. This is the film (inspired by an actual incident in Hollister) that asked: "What are you rebelling against?" Johnny shrugged and replied: "What have you got?" Described, at the time of its release, as "graphic" and "terrifying" (The New York Times).

*"Rebel Without a Cause." (1955). James Dean's Jim isn't a bad kid; it's just that he, like so many of his generation, can't articulate what's chewing at his insides. Burt Lancaster played the crusading district attorney looking for justice in an urban neighborhood "held in a grip of fear." Directed with tabloid-like immediacy by John Frankenheimer, who made his debut two years earlier with another first-rate study in teen alienation, "The Young Stranger."

*"West Side Story" (1961). Hard to believe, but this glossy Oscar-winning musical was once attacked by the Legion of Decency and other august panels for glorifying teen violence and pre-marital sex. …

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