Wednesday, June 16, 2021

I Accuse My Parents (1944)

Something I kinda miss from the golden age of cinema is that movie titles weren't afraid to sound sensationalistic or silly. Nowadays everything tries so desperately to be 'realistic' or serious, unless it's actively taking the piss. We never get movies anymore with titles like Attack of the Teenage Frankensteins, or The Praying Mantis Is Coming!, or anything like today's entry, I Accuse My Parents...

Jimmy Wilson is a bright young lad, who does well in his studies and seems to live a typical suburban life. But he keeps his true home life a secret, ashamed of what people would think if they knew how cold and inattentive his parents really were. He soon meets the lovely nightclub singer Kitty, and brings out a spark in the jaded girl, but earns the ire of her crimelord boss. And it's these troubles will have eventually seen him held in court, facing a grim sentence if things don't go his way...

I Accuse My Parents runs at a super brisk 67 minutes, and the plot ticks all the boxes in rapid succession. Nothing is dwelled on for too long, or glossed over too quickly, and there is always something going on.

The framing story is unobtrusive and as a result not at all preachy. Not only is the message presented in a good way, but we're not beaten over the head with it every 5 minutes.

I like is that the movie is evenhanded. Jimmy does accept responsibility for what happened, and doesn't just blindly say "I turned out bad because my parents were assholes! Tyrants of the highest order!". He acknowledges that they are decent people at heart, but criticises how they generally behaved, and basically lumped their own problems onto Jimmy by extension. The fact that these outbursts and moments of inaffection are coming from parents who are otherwise decent people would perhaps make it harder for a kid growing up in this environment.

Unfortunately this leads into the film's biggest problem. The parents really don't feature enough in the plot! The majority of what befalls Jimmy is the fault of crimelord Blake. Therefore by the end of the film, the sweeping declaration of raising your kids right falls a little flat. It's a great message to be telling, but I feel they should have put more effort into it.

Jimmy is a good lead character. Likeable and clever, but we can see how he falls into this trap. He handles himself very well with most of his decisions, and is brave by the end. He also shares good chemistry with Kitty, and they interact nicely, bringing out the best in each-other. Which makes it a bummer when she's forced to swear him off to his face, but hey, if it wasn't good drama it wouldn't be effective!

Kitty is a nice love interest We can tell she's hardened from her crappy life, but still has a sensitive side, and isn't a complete gloomy gus. This means she sells the tougher aspect of her character without it defining her and making her a chore to watch. Seeing characters like this in their moments of enjoyment and happiness can further highlight the negative moments when they come, and I wish more writers would take this to heart.

The villain of the piece is a scummy piece of work, charming yet ruthless. He makes for an effective baddie.

And last up is the store owner Jimmy befriends when he's on the run in the last act. He is a bit over the top with how trusting and idealistic he is, but really that's the movie's doing for only having 10 minutes left to introduce such a major character. It has to cram a lot into a short time. Thankfully he is a likeable guy, who provides a good moral compass for the hero.

There are a few songs here and there, and they're nicely sung, and entertain. Though it does amuse just how sweet and wholesome the music in this shady criminal nightclub is.

I Accuse my Parents is a pretty enjoyable little curio from old Hollywood. Not a classic, but much better than one would expect it to be and worth checking out...

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