Angry Boy

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Angry Boy is a short film from 1950 released on 16mm. It is held in the Prelinger Archives collection.

This simple and affecting story tells how Tommy Randall comes to understand the anger that has led him to steal money from his teacher's purse. It shows how he is helped by Dr. Marshall, a psychiatrist at the Child Guidance Clinic, and how his mother's conversations with Miss Clark, a psychiatric social worker, help her to come to terms with her feelings toward Tommy and her own mother.

Angry Boy portrays the mental health establishment as a benevolent force dedicated to unselfish service. Alexander Hammid's sensitive direction makes this all plausible as well as moving. All kinds of stereotypical and overdetermined behavior is shown in the film, but it never feels plodding or predictable. Much of the movie is structured around flashbacks showing family interactions and events, accompanied by the voices of the clinicians discussing what happened. The feeling of intervention and oversight, maybe even surveillance, is very real here.

    ANGRY BOY, " is the dramatization of the story of Tommy Randall, a pre-adolescent boy who because of emotional disturbances engendered by family tensions becomes involved in stealing at school.
    As introductory scenes show children's drawings and children's informal relationships with one another, the narrator points out that children are hard to understand. Tommy Randall is shown reacting with hostility toward Miss Turner, his teacher, when she stops a fight between him and a classmate. His face continues to register anger as she leaves the room. On his way out he sees her purse and follows his impulse to steal. As he is removing the money, Miss Turner returns.
    The next scene is a telephone conversation between Mr. Kern, the principal, and Tommy's mother. Mr. Kern suggests that Tommy has possibly been involved in other acts of stealing and that he feels strongly that the case is so complex that Mrs. Randall should request the assistance of the Child Guidance Bureau.
    Mrs. Randall is next shown at the Bureau in consultation with Miss Clark, a psychiatric social worker. The interview reveals her emotions of anger, disappointment, and sense of failure which she experienced when she learned Tommy had been caught stealing. She reveals again and again her efforts to be a good mother and to give Tommy the love and affection her mother had been too busy to give her.
    When Mrs. Randall is ready to leave, Miss Clark suggests that she go ahead without Tommy, who is in conference with the psychiatrist, Dr. Marshall. As the narrator explains that this is the Huron Valley Child Guidance Clinic, in Michigan, and that its services are available to maladjusted and emotionally disturbed children, the film shows Tommy visiting with Dr. Marshall and on a later visit taking the picture story test under a psychologist.
    As the staff of the Guidance Clinic discuss their findings, the film shows the incidents they discuss. A kitchen scene reveals Mrs. Randall completely dominating her husband and Tommy, and then in turn being dominated and frustrated by her mother. She becomes so emotionally upset by the incident that she excuses herself from dinner and retreats to her bedroom with a headache.
    The dinner is finished without her, but under certain etiquette restrictions set down by her. Mr. Randall and Tommy are just ready to start a game of checkers when she returns and stops the game. She insists that Tommy study fractions with her. When her mother warns that she should let them alone, she says that she is doing this for Tommy's good.
    Flashbacks, accompanied by the psychiatric and psychological clinicians' analyses, show the tensions, hostility, and frustration being created by these family relationships. The Bureau staff conference concludes with Miss Clark's suggesting that progress is being made, as Mrs. Randall begins to understand the problems, and with Dr. Marshall hoping that "she will give the boy some air of his own to breathe."
    Tommy's subsequent visits with Dr. Marshall show that the boy is becoming more tolerant and is developing the capacity for love and understanding. His admitting that he tripped a little girl and shot Dr. Marshall with a dart because he did not like them helps him to understand and even begin to remove such hate.
As Mrs. Randall is helping Tommy to prepare for summer camp, Tommy reveals how much he will miss Dr. Marshall. He even says that he wants to stay home so he can see him during the summer. Then he has the idea that if he goes to camp he can tell Dr. Marshall about the many things that happen there. Dr. Marshall concludes with the statement that Tommy is learning to express his feelings without hurting himself or others and that more and more parents and teachers are understanding and accepting children as human beings. [Educational Screen, June 1951]

Angry Boy
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ewid: 2051 | Fresh | || dopt: {{{dopt}}}