Bad Boy Danny is a juvenile delinquent sentenced to Variety Club Ranch in lieu of jail. He charms the headmistress and goads everyone else. The marshal sets out to find source of Danny’s rage, and learns he mistakenly believes he is responsible for his mother’s death. After a final crime spree and escape attempt, Danny learns he’s not to blame. Court return him to Ranch on the marshal’s conviction that he’s redeemed from life of crime. Danny goes on to graduate from Texas A&M’s ROTC program.
Audie Murphy Introduces His Movie Persona
Audie Murphy, a BAD BOY on his way to career in the pen, is sent to Lloyd Nolan’s ranch for delinquents in a last effort to straighten him out. Can Nolan find out what makes Murphy act so mean before he becomes a lifer at San Q?
Audie Murphy gets a bit of a bad rap as a movie star, because his movie star career, sometimes, felt like the reward of a grateful nation for his extraordinary war heroism. It’s not fair. Audie can be very good — as he demonstrates here, in his first starring role. In this movie, Murphy personifies a nice, polite, southern boy with a dangerous streak. This is the sort of kid who, one minute, can charm (in a mother/son kind of way) Lloyd Nolan’s wife with good manners and genuine sweetness, and in the next, pound the smithereens out of one of his colleagues at the ranch for no good reason. Of course — this being the 40s — there is a very Freudian reason for this — but until we get the psychotherapeutic ending, Murphy plays a kid on the knife’s edge of good and rotten exceptionally well. What’s interesting is that there is none of the acting awkwardness found in some of his early Westerns. One wonders if Murphy’s directors didn’t know what they had.
All the character actors give the performances you expect (Nolan is quite good here), the story moves along crisply, and one is left wondering why this one isn’t better known. And, also, why Murphy didn’t get to do more crime movies — he has the acting chops for it.