RVOD076 Teenagers on Trial

(1955, Educational/Short, b&w)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Rogue Mouseketeers!

Rating: **

In a Nutshell:

Teens are inherently evil, but it’s not their fault.


Oh yeah?  Well, so's your old man!Ah, life was perfect in the fifties. Perfect mothers dressed perfect children in the morning and kept immaculate homes while their little darlings were off at their perfect schools, preparing to spend the transitional years of teenagerhood as demonic, hell-bound agents of discord and chaos.

Yes, roving gangs of delinquents were all the rage back in the fifties, when a boy didn’t earn the title of Young Man unless he ganged up with a pack of similarly age-impaired miscreants to break windows, steal bicycles and jack automobiles. The girls get in on it too, but in true fifties fashion, their hell-raising options are limited to shoplifting.

But it’s not their fault, the little darlings. If only their mothers were less permissive, their schools less crowded and the court systems a little more understanding, then, um...

Well, the short doesn’t really finish its thought here, but I’m guessing they mean to imply that delinquency would disappear from the face of the earth, interest rates would go continuously down, there would be free cake in the break room, and unicorns would be real.


Think of any fifties “teens in trouble” flick you’ve seen. (If you've watched any amount of Mystery Science Theater or the Rifftrax Shorts, you’ve seen a lot of them.) Now remove all traces of plot, along with anything else that might possibly be of interest, and you’re left with “delinquents are bad, but society is to blame”. That simple, unadorned phrase describes Teenagers on Trial in its entirety.

Not that the delinquency on display is particularly pernicious. Bodily harm is depicted only once, and even then it’s accidental. Kids of this era apparently never shot, knifed and/or impregnated one another, a phenomenon easily explained by the fact that, of course, they always abstained from strong drink and illegal drugs. I guess the fifties had a more wholesome sort of crime, where the worst you could possibly commit was theft. Maybe... maybe unicorns really were real back then, and there was cake for everyone.

A few of my favorite comments: “Look at how well they work together; they’re a finely tuned nerd-beating machine!” (Kevin). “That car mugged an elderly widow,” (Mike). “The well-funded pro-delinquency lobby,” (Bill, explaining the continued existence of delinquency). It’s decently riffed, but the short is bland and happens to address a subject of which I am very, very tired. Possibly, that means I haven’t rated it fairly. Maybe you’ll like it more than I did.