Jimmy: Well, sir... I don't know if I should say this, but... I accuse my parents.
James "Jimmy" Wilson is an all-American
25 year old man
teenage boy living in typical 1940's suburbia. He's a nice kid and even won the big essay contest at school... oh, and his parents like to drink, party, and gamble. This being a pseudo-propaganda film in the 40's, this pretty much ensures Jimmy will fall into a pit of debauchery and crime, and indeed he does; After meeting a pretty lounge singer named Kitty, Jimmy gets hired by her boyfriend, mobster kingpin Charlie Blake. After running a few errands for Blake, stupidly never suspecting that his boss is a criminal (or that he's even Kitty's boyfriend, as Jimmy starts dating her,), Jimmy eventually figures out the truth and goes on the run, then later accidentally kills Blake in a scuffle. Jimmy goes to court for manslaughter, but it all works out because the judge lightens Jimmy's sentence after the kid places the blame on his oblivious folks. Yeah, we're not sure how this excuse works, either.
Kitty's three songs, written by the future Oscar-winning team of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, are surprisingly catchy. One suspects that the film was more of a vehicle for the music
than the Aesop.
For the Mystery Science Theater 3000
version, please go to the episode recap page
- Abusive Parents: Aside from some possible mild neglect, this is surprisingly averted, even if the film seems to think it's playing it straight.
- Alcoholic Parent: Jimmy's parents, especially his mom.
- Jimmy freely states when he passes on some alcohol that he's been "hitting the stuff hard lately". And this is completely brushed over for a nice little Double Standard. Mind you he's a high school student.
- Big Fancy House: Jimmy's house.
- Blatant Lies: Perhaps not to the other characters, but Jimmy's description of his home life to other people certainly comes across as this to the viewer.
- Break His Heart to Save Him: Kitty breaks up with Jimmy to try and protect him from Blake.
- Clueless Aesop: Teaching parents to pay more attention to their kids than their booze? Not a bad idea. Teaching them to do so by showing a young man time and again making completely stupid decisions to the point where he goes on the run from the mob and gets charged for manslaughter...despite none of that having to do with his drunk parents? Sure, maybe if they'd paid more attention to him, he might not have gotten away with all those choices, but Jimmy makes so many stupid decisions that it's hard to believe bad parenting alone was the problem.
- As usual, the Church will solve all your problems - even if you're not Christian.
- To be fair, Jimmy continues to make foolish decisions after receiving religious instruction from his diner friend. It's not portrayed as a miracle cure, just as giving him a brief respite from said decisions.
- The dedication at the end says that the movie was made to entertain the Yanks with Tanks overseas (it was 1944). Let's see: a film where a kid goes completely off the rails due to his parent's absence is shown to a large group of young fathers, some of whom might never come home. Brilliant!
- Dawson Casting: Jimmy, Kitty.
- Drop-In Character: Shirley. She just occasionally shows up at the Wilsons' house, with no explanation for who she is and why she's there, much to the bewilderment of Joel and the 'Bots, who call her a Greek Chorus. She flirts with Jimmy's father, giving the impression she might be a mistress, but even the full version of the movie leaves her role largely unexplained.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Jimmy gets a lot of money from his Dad. His mother's public drunkenness is actually kind of mild.
- The Freelance Shame Squad: "Hee hee hee, she's drunk!"
- Freudian Excuse: The whole thrust of Jimmy's defense.
- Idiot Ball: Jimmy carries this nearly the entire movie, but Kitty grabs it when she's breaking up with Jimmy. Blake has threatened her, and he hides in the closet to hear this. If Kitty was smart, she could have motioned to the closet door, or wrote something down, giving Jimmy the truth. But no, she plays the break-up straight, leading Jimmy to take the ball back and do something even stupider.
- Informed Ability: We only ever heard one sentence of Jimmy's supposedly brilliant essay.
- Lady Drunk: Jimmy's mother
- Lyrical Shoehorn: Happens once or twice in Kitty's songs.
- Meet Cute: Of the most obvious sort in a shoe store between Jimmy and Kitty, complete with amused bystander.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Jimmy winning the essay contest seems to be a pretty big deal.
- It's implied to be a regional or statewide contest.
- Nice Guy: The diner cook.
- Only Sane Man: Again the diner cook. Convinces Jimmy to turn himself in and talk with Kitty.
- Resignations Not Accepted: Invoked by Blake when Jimmy threatens to quit.
- Society Marches On: Remember when all checks were completely blank, and you had to put in your own name and information, not just the recipient?
- Stay in the Kitchen: Jimmy's idealized descriptions of his home life (especially in his winning essay) certainly seem to imply that he'd prefer his drunk mom to do this.
- Its certainly more admirable than shopping and drinking all day, even by today's standards.
- This film was shown to troops during WWII. You think that some of the soldiers who had girlfriends working to make supplies to their lovers overseas would be a little pissed.
- Title Drop: Very early in the film, see the page quote.
- Too Dumb to Live: Jimmy. Yet he lives.