Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Now almost forgotten, Warrendale brewed up a storm of controversy when it first emerged in 1967. Canadian documentary filmmaker Allan King takes us within the walls of an institution for emotionally disturbed adolescents. It is the philosophy of Warrendale that the best therapy for the young charges is to allow them as much personal freedom as possible. Thus, the kids smoke, swear and discuss sex in the frankest terms. Though Warrendale was originally made for television, neither the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation nor London's BBC, appalled by the film's scatology and frighteningly detailed therapy sequences, wanted anything to do with this hot-potato property. King arranged for the film to be released theatrically; as a result, Warrendale shared the International Critics Prize (with Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up) at the Cannes Film Festival. Producer-director King later utilized outtakes to expand the film into the 18-part TV documentary series Children in Conflict.