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Blue Denim is a drama produced by Charles Brackett (Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend) and based on a play written by James Leo Herlihy and William Noble. It is an early example of American cinema exploring teen pregnancy. Before the dawn of reality television featuring series like "16 and Pregnant" being common, Blue Denim is a early drama exploring the topic.
Janet Willard (Carol Lynley) and Arthur Bartley (Brandon De Wilde) are two average American teenagers. They hang out together in the basement along with their close friend Ernie (Warren Berlinger) and crack jokes while playing games together and getting into conversations. The friendship between the duo turns into something else when Janet and Arthur begin to have romantic feelings for one another. A friendly exchange of smiles turns into much more.
The romance between them leads to something unexpected: a pregnancy. Janet gets a bun in the oven (so to speak). The young teenagers start to wonder what they are supposed to do with a baby. Both are too intimidated to tell their parents about their sexual relationship or the pregnancy and they begin contemplating the possibility of getting an abortion done.
When Arthur attempts to tell his parents that he got Janet pregnant, his subtle questions to his parents seem to be mere questions of sex and growing. They recommend he read a book about it. With frustration and fear (along with the help of Ernie) Janet sets up an abortion with a behind-the-counter style abortionist (this takes place before abortion clinics were common in the US). The question over whether or not to go through with the abortion becomes one of the film's central questions.
Controversial at the time (especially given this was released in the 1950's), the film is an early exploration of the issue of teenage pregnancy and the question of abortion. Though the word "abortion" is not actually mentioned in the film the depiction of what the characters discuss is quite clear. The film doesn't condemn Janet or Arthur for their decisions. Rather, the film looks at the way in which an unexpected pregnancy can impact young individuals. The film feels as if it is designed to provoke discussion for Americans and young individuals on this topic.
From a production standpoint, Blue Denim is impressive. It's hard to deny the excellent efforts of costume designer Adele Balkan (The Fly, The Young Lions) or the superb black and white cinematography by Leo Tover (The Day The Earth Stood Still). The film also features an excellent score by the brilliant composer Bernard Hermann (Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Day The Earth Stood Still).
With a screenplay written by Edith Sommer (As The World Turns, This Property is Condemned) and Philip Dunne (The Last of the Mohicans), Blue Denim is surprisingly on-point for a film produced in the 1950's. The film does an excellent job of making these characters relatable. These teen character's aren't juvenile delinquents, they are average young Americans in a difficult situation.
Directed by Philip Dunne (Lisa, Wild in the Country), Blue Denim is a fascinating drama that is worth a look. The performances from Carol Lynley and Brandon De Wilde impress. The film navigates its storytelling territory with surprising turns. The filmmaking style is superb with excellent direction and originality. The film leaves an impression of being an underrated production which is still well worth a look.
Blue Denim is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. This high definition 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation has remarkable clarity and definition. Twilight Time yet again delivers an exceptional Blu-ray presentation with high bit-rates and quality encoding. The film transfer is well restored and scanned at a high quality. There are no traces of DNR or banding present. This is a naturally filmic presentation with fine grain detail left intact. Fans will not be disappointed.
Presented in DTS HD-Master Audio 1.0 mono audio and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo, the film has a faithful presentation which preserves the original sound design while offering some more robust dialogue reproduction with the 2.0 stereo track. The music score by the brilliant composer Bernard Hermann sounds terrific on this release. No crackles, hiss, or distortion present.
Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are included.
Isolated Score Track presented in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio featuring the music of Bernard Hermann
Booklet featuring an essay by Twilight Time's Julie Kirgo
Original Theatrical Trailer
Blue Denim is a well-done drama about young love and the issue of teenage pregnancy. With strong performances by the cast and superb direction, this is a film well worth seeking out. It even includes a superb score by the genius composer Bernard Hermann (The Twilight Zone, Psycho).
Twilight Time delivers an excellent quality release with a strong presentation. This is a quality release worth picking up.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.