Rock, Pretty Baby (1956)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Rock Musical  |   Release Date - Dec 1, 1956 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Juvenile delinquency was a big buzzword in the 1950s, and many parents and professionals worried that the new rock-n-roll music was a pathway into a life of youthful crime. Rock, Pretty Baby is one of the many flicks of the period that capitalized on (or exploited, if you prefer) this premise, and like most of them, it presents a banal story with mostly black-and-white conflicts and characterizations. Unlike more memorable examples of the genre, however, there's less entertainment with Pretty Baby -- there's little of the "hip" slang that aficionados expect, for example, and the conflicts come across as remarkably dull. The moralizing is overly earnest, but not exaggerated enough to be fun, and the predictability of the entire enterprise becomes numbing after a while. The cast unfortunately takes things entirely too seriously, with the exceptions of Sal Mineo and to a lesser extent Shelley Fabares. The score, often a saving grace in this kind of film, is a disappointment, being too obviously NOT rock. There are some snatches of genuine artistry in the cinematography, most notably in the "necking on the beach" sequence, which makes good use of shadows, but it's too little too late.