Film: 5878

Social History | 1940 | Sound | B/W

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Synopsis:

Delinquent children 1940's

A child is playing on the pavement, tilt up to a street corner, a few people, camera following a young woman. ST sign. She is turning to Lucy Street. Misty morning. A few people in the street, a cat. Now we see the old woman from the front. She greets an older lady. Three kids are playing cards in a side street. The young woman sees them and approaches them. They quickly hide the cares. One of the boys stands up to speak with her. She asks why isn't he at school? Fred replies he hasn't been very well. She knows he's lying and gives him one more chance. She goes, close up to him, disapproving. The three quickly get back to the game. Fred! Fred! His mother is shouting from the top of the stairs. Close up of her, looking neglected. A sign prohibiting entrance for under 16s.
The three kids are gambling and smoking beside the game. Fred close up. A man chasing them out. They leave with reluctance. Now four boys are walking in the street at night. No lighting. Fred picks up a stone, throws it at a window and breaks it. They listen carefully. Close up on each one as camera pans to the right. Fred orders Jim to stay outside and whistle if anyone is coming. The three are climbing onto a window and break in. Inside there are boxes. They break into a cupboard and steal cigarette lighters, cigars, money. A shadow passes by a man quietly coming in. He sees them. The young boy sees him and shouts. They run off and he chases them while blowing a whistle. A policeman runs to help and manages to grab hold of Fred, push him against the wall. Fred's mother is climbing up the stairs, very tired. Inside her home another daughter and a baby. Mother walks in asking about Fred. The next day. The young woman we saw before is approaching a flat entrance. She introduces herself as Miss Wallman, the probation officer, in front of the woman who opens the door. She is enquiring about her daughter, Shirley. The mother invites Miss Wallman in who tells her how her daughter was found by the police in a dark alley, associated with older men. She is going to be brought to trial and Miss Wallman is trying to find what would be the best solution for her. The mother tells of her troubles in dealing with 18 years old Shirley, who has left school a year ago and hasn't worked since. Shirley ran away from home three weeks ago. She hasn't seen her father for over 8 years and the mother is desperate.
Sign: Juvenile Court.
Shirley admits in front of the judge and promises to be a good girl. The mother is called to speak and she is giving up and wishes for the judge to decide what to do with her. Close up of the two standing side by side. The judge is quietly consulting with a man and a woman at his side. The judge speaks his mind, to send her to an approved school for three years. Shirley protests. The clock: 11 o'clock, dissolves to 11.20. A scheme in a pub. Shirley and another woman are having a drink. Close up on two men, one looks at his watch and signals to the other to go. He looks at Shirley, who drinks another glass. The four of them are going out. A car is driving on the road at night, suddenly it stops in the middle of nowhere. Inside the car the four of them. Shirley is arguing with the other woman and refuses to go stealing. The man who drives gets out, opens the car door and tells her to step out. He warns her to keep silent, goes into the car and drives off without her. Shirley on her own on a windy night, walks back.
Close up of a man's chest being checked by a doctor, tilt up to Red's face. A teacher writes on a blackboard. Fred on his own in a classroom being tested. In a carpentry workshop - kids are working. Other kids doing brickwork. In the classroom. Fred looking bored. The teacher is writing on a blackboard.
A knock on a door. The headmistress at her desk. Shirley is coming in for an interview very hesitantly. The headmistress welcomes her warmly to the school and asks about her interests. Shirley doesn't know what she wants to become.
Close up of Fred's notebook. He is looking dismayed. The teacher comes to look at his work and warns him. The bell rings. Class is dismissed. Before they all go the teacher asks for six volunteers to work on the rubbish dump. Fred is sent to practice his swimming. Fred in the field, watches a train passing by. He walks off and sees the kids busy working in the dump. He searches in their coat pockets and steals. The swimming pool. A kid drives in. Fred walks in and being shouted at by the lifeguard. The kids find out that their pockets have been searched. Fred in the pool. The headmaster comes and calls him to get out and attend his office. A knock on the door. Fred walks in to the office. The headmaster is talking to a new boy, Walter Wilkins, and asks Fred to show him around. The boy's walking and talking outside. They go into the washroom. The class is gathered at the sports hall. The teacher reads out the names of the six volunteer. They stand up. They get a prize and everybody applauds. The teacher asks who stole from the pockets of one of the boys. The kids look around. Nobody admits. The whole school loses 25 marks. All go out. In the dormitory one of the boys stands up and calls for the thief to come forth. No response. Lights out.
Walter Wilkins in his trial, justifies himself in front of the judge. He leaves the room as his father comes forth and explains about the good home from which Walton came and blames the influence of his friends for his misbehaving. The judge recommends another six months of probation and if he appears in court again, to send him to an approved school. The policeman who caught Fred escaping is testifying in court. Fred has nothing to say. He is proven guilty. Another man tells the court of his background. Miss Wallman talks of her efforts to help him. Fred is asked to step outside while his sister is being questioned. Miss Wallman describes the unsatisfying condition at home, the absence of a father figure and the financial difficulty. The boy is asked to come in. Close up of his face. Slow zoom in as he hears the judge's recommendation to send him to an approved school for three years.
The school building from the outside. Kids are marching. Fred is being brought by another man in a car. They walk in.
The headmaster's office. Fred is being interviewed. His money is put in his canteen account. The headmaster tells him of the school rules and asks another boy to show him around. Fred is receiving his school clothes. Then he is taken for a shower.
The building from the outside. A gate with a sign: Leicester home school. A young lady comes through the gate. The headmistress in her office picks up the phone and hears from Miss Wallman that Shirley who is supposed to join the school, is missing. The dining room at the boys school. Everybody except Fred takes an extra helping. Shirley is drinking in the pub again. Her friend brings her another glass. A man comes to the pub and asks about Shirley. Fred is coming into the headmistress's office. She wants to have a talk with him. Fred's leave period has arrived but the recommendation is for Fred to stay in the school, since his home isn't suitable for a visit at this time. He promises him to try to help him to go home on his next leave. Fred hesitates on his way out. A church service is taking place. Singing. Outside Fred and Walton are escaping. The train is heard in the background. It is dark.
A row of women's feet tapping to the music. A room full of girls sewing. The teacher comes in and they all stand up. The headmistress asks Shirley to take up the place of a girl who left. The kitchen. Shirley is not happy, but a promise to be helped later. She agrees. The bell rings. All girls are dismissed.
At the headmistress' office, one of the teachers is in despair, eventually she is convinced to carry on. The headmistress is reading a letter from a graduate who is doing well in her life. Flash back of her school days. Working, working, in the kitchen. Now feeding a baby, cutting flowers for a church service…..dissolves back to the office reading the moving letter.
The boys who escaped are hitchhiking. They get off and depart to separate ways. Fred quickens his stop to go home. He rushes up the stairs, opens the door and pauses. His mother is seated, muttering bitterly for being disturbed. She then shouts at him to leave her alone and go. The baby cries. He leaves painfully and slowly goes downstairs again - camera following him from the back.
The fun hair. Spinning Carousel seen from different angles. In a street nearby, people walking by. Fred sees a bakery and steals a pastry. The baker rushes out shouting after him.
A close up of a plate of food. Walton is seated with his parents for dinner and tells them about a contagious disease, widespread at the dormitory, that he luckily didn't get. His father promises to report to the authorities straightaway. The doorbell goes. Walton listens worried to the conversation behind the door. His gather comes in with a policeman. Father is angry for being humiliated and sends his boy out.
At the headmaster's office, Walton's father overhears a phone conversation. The headmaster speaks to the baker, convinces him not to prosecute the boy for stealing a pie. He will pay for it and will send some one to pick up Fred.
Now Walton's father is fuming about the bad company his son is in. The headmistress reminds him of his son's record. He convinces him of their good teaching methods. They look through the window and see the boys doing brickwork. They come to a respectful agreement. Walton outside looking unhappy.
Fred is in the headmaster's office. The headmaster is shouting at him. He has decided to put him in the farm to do hard work, hoping it will turn him into a man. Fred looks surprisingly pleased. He goes. Before the door he hesitates and turns around to say that he is the one who had stolen the money. "Thank you, Fred", says the headmaster. In the farm, shovelling straw, milking the cows, loading a wagon, swimming, diving, playing baseball, teasing a friend, wrestling. A night time film show. A western.
The kids are fascinated. Suddenly there's a problem. The projector doesn't know how to fix it. The headmaster ask for anyone with experience of sound or radio. Walton volunteers. They go to fix it while everybody else is singing with the piano. The headmaster lights a cigarette. Walton points at the no-smoking sign which convinces him to extinguish his cigarette. The boy fixes the projector. The lights go down and everybody stops singing, except for one boy.
Fred taps on his shoulder and everybody laughs. The film continues. The headmaster whispers to Walton that he will take him to the sound department to become an electrician. Walton looks pleased. Fred opens the door to the pigeons in the morning. He watches them fly off and then sits to write a note. Another boy comes. Fred shows him the letter he wrote to the governor, asking for a double raise for good behaviour. The governor at his office grants it to him.
A game of football. Very scratched. Kids on the benches watching. Whistle for a break. Somebody is pouring water from an urn. It's the kid's club.
End of Part One.


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