Jail Bait

Jail Bait

Director: Edward D. Wood Jr.

Cast: Dolores Fuller, Lyle Talbot, Herbert Rawlinson

     
 

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Auteur Ed Wood Jr.'s Jail Bait comes to DVD with a standard full-frame transfer. The English soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. There are neither subtitles nor closed-captions on this release. Supplemental materials are limited to a theatrical trailer. Wood's fans, as well as those who have heard about him but never actually seen any of his work,

Overview

Auteur Ed Wood Jr.'s Jail Bait comes to DVD with a standard full-frame transfer. The English soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. There are neither subtitles nor closed-captions on this release. Supplemental materials are limited to a theatrical trailer. Wood's fans, as well as those who have heard about him but never actually seen any of his work, will want to give this disc a look. There is little here for anyone else.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Jail Bait was Edward D. Wood Jr.'s first attempt at making a mainstream movie. Previously, he'd directed, written, and starred in Glen or Glenda, a very personal film about transvestism that was made for the exploitation film circuit. Jail Bait, however, was a crime film, really a film noir, made for Howco, a low-budget production company that specialized in genre entertainment and distributed its films to drive-ins and cheap but respectable neighborhood theaters. Co-written with Alex Gordon, Jail Bait follows the path of conventional crime movies, telling a cautionary tale about the privileged son (Clancey Malone) of a successful surgeon (Herbert Rawlinson, in a part intended for Bela Lugosi), who comes to no good end when he takes up with a professional hood (Timothy Farrell) in his quest for kicks. The plot up to that point isn't too different from that of the 1944 East Side Kids drama Million Dollar Kid, except that it's also presented partly as a police procedural. Wood was evidently intent on emulating the style and approach of Dragnet, which was then the hottest thing on television, although Jail Bait, thanks to Wood's strange direction, more resembles the radio version (then again, even the television version of Dragnet in those days strongly resembled its radio version). The focus is just as much on the two police detectives (portrayed by Lyle Talbot and Steve Reeves) as it is on the doomed Don Gregor or his family. Another bizarre element is the dialogue, both as written and as handled under Wood's direction. In between the police jargon and the tough-guy talk is very strangely written and paced developmental dialogue, especially between Rawlinson and Dolores Fuller (Wood's paramour at that time), playing his daughter, who sound like they're rehearsing a radio drama (and like they need a lot of work). It's when Rawlinson, portraying a gifted veteran surgeon, utters lines admitting that he finds plastic surgery "very complicated" that modern audiences start to laugh. Then there are scenes like the one where Don Gregor's corpse, left standing upright behind a curtain, tumbles out in front of his father without making enough noise to alert anyone in the next room. (Come to think of it, the idea of a day-old corpse left standing upright, perfectly still and without starting to smell of decay in a kitchen, is pretty funny too.) Those elements, plus the facial reconstruction surgery that Dr. Gregor improvises in a living room, would be enough to make Jail Bait worthwhile viewing for connoisseurs of the odd and unusual in filmmaking. But Wood also had the goal of emulating the zither score from The Third Man and the mood that it created, even though his movie is set in southern California and not Vienna. He couldn't find a zither player (or else couldn't afford to hire Ruth Welcome, who was certainly around at that time), so he reused Hoyt Curtin's guitar score from Howco's Mesa of Lost Women; thus, Jail Bait has this dramatic Spanish-style guitar, embellished with piano for the dramatic moments, noodling underneath its action and dialogue. That track, plus the presence of an embarrassing (but accurate) black-face comedy number set at the theater that's to be robbed, firmly place this movie in the main body of Wood's work, if not as well developed as it would later become in its mistakes and errors in judgement. It's not prime Edward D. Wood material -- as he gained experience and confidence, he grew bolder and began reaching beyond his grasp, making bigger and more interesting mistakes -- but, like watching a car that's starting to veer onto the shoulders of a highway at a medium speed, one can see here where Wood and his career were going.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/15/2000
UPC:
0014381860122
Original Release:
1954
Rating:
NR
Source:
Image Entertainment
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
1:11:00

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dolores Fuller Marilyn Gregor
Lyle Talbot Inspector Johns
Herbert Rawlinson Doctor Gregor
Steve Reeves Lieutentant Bob Lawrence
Clancy Malone Actor
Tina Lynn Actor
Wade Nichols Actor
Cotton Watts Actor
Timothy Farrell Vic Brady
Bud Osborne Night Watchman
Mona McKinnon Miss Willis
John Avery Police Doctor

Technical Credits
Edward D. Wood Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Charles Clement Editor
Alex Gordon Screenwriter
Igo Kantor Editor
Ray Mercer Special Effects
John Sylvester Makeup
William C. Thompson Cinematographer

Scene Index

Side #1
1. Chapter Index
1. Main title; All mixed up [10:59]
2. Hardball at the Hunters' Inn [5:11]
3. Cotton Watts an Chick [2:32]
4. Cop killer [6:37]
5. The scene of the crime [7:02]
6. Don's confession [8:17]
7. Hot lead [8:33]
8. Under the knife [12:52]
9. The Unveiling [7:30]
10. End of the Line [1:07]
11. End Credits [:27]
12. Theatrical Trailer [1:17]

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