Wood Floats: “Jail Bait” (1954)

Cheap hood Timothy Farrell teaches moll Theodora Thurman a lesson in economics as she walks about their crummy apartment in a posh variety of fashion wear (What? No angora??) guaranteed to explain his need to compulsively commit robberies in the 1954 Edward D. Wood, Jr. crime drama “JAIL BAIT”.

    “Jail Bait” is the most accomplished film from the fertile mind of Edward D. Wood, Jr., which is like saying the maiden voyage of Titanic is the most famous of sea disasters: it may technically be true, but it’s still not an enticement to buy a ticket and experience it for yourself. The difference from Wood’s usual seven-layers-removed-from-reality oeuvre may be found in that the screenplay is co-written by actor Alex Gordon, which may account for those moments that sneak through the usual Woodian twists of expression and almost resemble human dialogue. There is also a greater reliance on location shooting, (which gives the illusion of a greater immediacy consistent with Wood’s favored and still present “Dragnet”-like  voiceover  narrations), with the film approaching something resembling a Poverty Row lustre as well as removing the film from his usual studio bound reliance which serves to emphasize the worst characteristics of his deadly, stilted writing. (During those moments, it becomes crystal clear, the importance of possible distraction by clever art direction.)

    Make no mistake about it, this Ed Wood vehicle contains the same bare bones production design, the same lack of the use of editing to enhance a scene’s dramatic rhythm and the same (to be charitable) mixed bag of performance competence, but it does have a structured narrative that follows a  genuinely logical advancement of plotting, something completely foreign to the Wood canon, in which budgetary woes, amateurish casting  or sparks of ineptly seized upon “inspiration” were the standard influences on the construction of the auteur’s scenarios. The film even goes so far as to feature an amusing twist ending, without the usual narrated moralizing coda which tends to dampen any sense of enjoyment- sober or inebriated -the viewer might be experiencing. This is not to say the film is good; simply that in comparison to Wood’s other cinematic curiosities, it comes closest to achieving that which might be comparable to a bad B-movie noir, though the salacious suggestiveness of the title certainly promises a more lurid content than the film delivers (Wood’s sense of sexual provocation, despite the later dips into the pornographic pool, is among the most arid, immature and undeveloped of Hollywood filmmakers until the emergence of Steven Spielberg.)

To read the complete review, click the following link to: http:/chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/matinees-at-the-bijoux

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in 1950's cinema, 1950's movies, Drive-In Movies, Film, Film Reviews, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, racism, Reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Wood Floats: “Jail Bait” (1954)

  1. Pingback: Jail Bait (Edward D. Wood Jr) – 1954 – [Public Domain Movie] | mostly music

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