Troubling teenagers: how movies constructed the juvenile delinquent in the 1950s

This essay looks at the idea of juvenile delinquency, and how it was constructed in British and American cinema in the 1950s. It considers how US films like Blackboard Jungle and Rebel Without a Cause responded to moral panics, both about youth crime and about the effects of film viewing itself. And it compares this with how the ‘troubling teenager’ is represented in British films, from Good Time Girl (1948) and Cosh Boy (1953) through to Violent Playground (1958).

You can download the whole essay by clicking here, or if you want to read the illustrated version, click on the subheadings below to read the different sections:

  1. Introducing the JD films
  2. Constructing ‘juvenile delinquency’
  3. The JD classics: The Wild One, Blackboard Jungle and Rebel Without a Cause
  4. British delinquents: Good Time Girl, Boys in Brown and Cosh Boy
  5. Violent Playground
  6. The end of delinquency
  7. Sources and references