Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Boys Beware (1962)

Boys Beware is a film released through Sid Davis Productions. It deals with a perceived danger to young boys: that of predatory homosexuals. The film was released in 1961 and, through negligence of the copyright laws in the United States at the time of its release, lapsed into the public domain and is available from the Rick Prelinger archives.
Boys Beware is narrated by a self-described police detective who is on his way to a school meeting where he is to discuss this issue. Aside from the film's late '50s/early '60s culturally influenced conclusion that homosexual men are inherently dangerous to young boys, the film has been noted for its unusual perception of police procedure: one boy is taken to a hotel, presumably to be molested, and later reports the crime. The perpetrator is arrested; the victim is put on probation. This could be seen as an instance of victim blaming.
Another incautious, unsuspecting boy is killed one night, "having traded his life for a newspaper headline".
A third has a narrow escape, having realized he was being tailed by a man (played by Davis himself) who was in the beachside changing room where he and his young friends had been earlier. The film has other odd moments, presumably the result of its shoestring budget of $1,000 - a minuscule sum for a short film, even in 1961. Most notably, a homosexual drives to what looks like a lovers lane in the same car the detective uses.
Davis was friendly with the police in Southern California and would accept their suggestions of topics to make films about, allowing them to guide the films' message and development. Playwright Max Sparber's play The Older Gentleman, set in rural Nebraska in the early '60s, includes a scene in which college students are shown Boys Beware in class.


SID DAVIS  (1962)
11 MIN

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