Reform School Girl (1957)
By: Paul Ryan on June 3, 2009  | 
DVD
Dark Horse Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 70 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Edward L. Bernds
Starring: Gloria Castillo, Edd Byrnes, Ross Ford, Yvette Vickers
Screenplay: Edward L. Bernds
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Donna (Gloria Castillo) is a good girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Raised by an eternally sour aunt (Claire Carleton) and constantly groped at by her leering, drunken uncle (Jack Kruschen), Donna finds herself hanging out with good-looking bad-boy Vince (Edd Byrnes, later of TVs 77 Sunset Strip). Taken for a spin by Vince in a stolen car – he's involved in a chop shop racket, by the way – things spiral out of control when he runs down an innocent bystander. Rather unconvincingly, Donna takes the fall (as Vince has threatened to kill her if she rats him out), and finds herself packed off to the Hastings School for Girls, a state juvenile detention facility. Surrounded by all manner of female delinquents and unwed mothers-to-be, Donna just wants to ride out her sentence, supervised by caring teacher David Lindsay (Ross Ford). The increasingly paranoid Vince, convinced Donna will inevitably turn him in, starts pulling strings in order to turn the other girls against her, resulting in dorm room slashings, farmyard beatings, and all-round bitchiness…

A classic of the 50s drive-in delinquent cycle, Reform School Girl is actually rather forgettable stuff. Sure, there are some vintage sleaze moments (the hilariously gratuitous opening credits consist of Donna doing her make up in a mirror in bra and underwear) and some hilariously stilted dialogue ("Dig those cool, cool sounds!"), but despite this, it's all quite slow and dull. The credits thank the "California Youth Authority" for their assistance, and it may be for that reason that the film seems so tame – even for its era – with a cast of "delinquents" who seem mainly characterised by a tendency to scowl and/or mouth off. It doesn't help that the troubled "teenage" inmates are all played by prim, nicely made-up (and well-dressed) twenty-somethings, given lines that sound like they've been written by a fifty-year-old with no idea how young people speak.

That said, the catfights are gloriously over-the-top, and provide a bit of sordid fun in an otherwise blah exploitation flick.
Video
Taken from a print that looks like it did one too many rounds at the drive-in, the video transfer is often rough, but still watchable. There no are major authoring issues – barring obvious NTSC-to-PAL conversion – but the print has lots of scratches, damage and occasional missing frames.
Audio
Presented in 2.0 mono, this is a muffled and scratchy audio track. The best that can really be said here is that you can understand the dialogue. Audio sync is fine as well.
Extra Features
The special features got mixed up with the wrong crowd and sent away for a spell in Juvie. If you want bonus material, the Region 2 release contains trailers and an interview with producer Samuel Z. Arkoff, and reviews indicate that it has better picture as well.
The Verdict
Not as much fun as its famously sordid title would suggest, Reform School Girl is surprisingly dull, though you do at least get a couple of primo catfights. DV1's release is – neat animated menu aside – pretty uninspiring.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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