Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mourning Wood, Part I: "Jail Bait" (1954)



Yes, yes, yes, Ed Wood made movies that were "so bad, they're good." Well, not being a believer in this mantra, I rented this junk and "Glen or Glenda" so I could have it out with the spirit of Ed once and for all.

The basic plot for this film reads like a rejected Rod Serling script idea. Poor misguided Don (Clancy Malone) is bailed out of jail by his sister Marilyn (Dolores Fuller). Their father is the world famous plastic surgeon Dr. Gregor (Herbert Rawlinson, who found himself in this dreck after over a hundred silent screen roles). Cops Johns (Lyle Talbot) and Lawrence (future "Hercules" Steve Reeves) try to convince Gregor that his son is up to no good.

Don confirms this by robbing a theatre with his mentor in crime Vic (Timothy Farrell). Don kills a night watchman, and Vic wounds a secretary, who later identifies them. Don wants to give himself up, but Vic kidnaps him and kills him. Then, Vic pretends Don is still alive and summons Dr. Gregor and Marilyn to his place for a little plastic surgery so he and his gal can escape to South America and live like kings. There, preparing for surgery, Gregor finds Don's body, and performs the surgery anyway...

I will never understand the worship of Ed Wood. His films were out and out lousy, whether he was a wide eyed neophyte in Hollywood or a cross dressing talentless drunk. How many people out there are defending "Glitter" or "From Justin to Kelly" or "The Real Cancun" because they are so bad they are good. I guess paying ten bucks at the theater makes a bad film, a two dollar video rental makes a so bad it's good film.

The entire cast is bad. Wood's script is laughable despite a half decent idea. He lets entire subplots come and go (the newspaper reporter), and has no concept about basics like camera placement or story. The title is a misnomer, the jail bait referred to is not a girl, but a gun.

Kelly Preston was once asked about hubby John Travolta's colossal bomb "Battlefield Earth." Preston, wearing an L. Ron Hubbard approved grin, responded, "at least he got it made."

Somehow, "Jail Bait" got made. It is truly terrible, and the mere vomiting forth of a bad film like this can no longer justify its existence or serve as an excuse to like it. Ed, you were one awful film maker. (*) out of five stars. Get this movie now!: Jail Bait (1954)