Sunday, September 25, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: THE BOY WITH THE GREEN HAIR

As a youth in the 1980s, I remember seeing the movie The Boy With The Green Hair often on AMC. This was back when AMC aired "classic movies". Anyways, the movie always sort of scared me. It scared me, but it also haunted me in a good way. Since that movie aired, my copy on an old Beta tape has since broken, but the still haunts me. It is an odd movie, but a good one nevertheless.

The Boy with Green Hair was a 1948 American comedy-drama film directed by Joseph Losey. It starred Dean Stockwell as Peter, a young war orphan who is subject to ridicule after he awakens one morning to find his hair mysteriously turned green. Co-stars include Pat O'Brien, Robert Ryan, and Barbara Hale.

Finding a curiously silent young runaway boy (Stockwell) whose head has been completely shaved, small-town police call in a psychologist (Ryan) and discover that he is a war orphan named Peter Frye. Moving in with an understanding retired actor named Gramps (O'Brien), Peter starts attending school and generally begins living the life of a normal boy until his class gets involved with trying to help war orphans in Europe and Asia.


Peter soon realizes that—like the children on the posters, whose images haunt him—he, too, is a war orphan. The realization about his parents and the work helping the orphans makes Peter turn very serious, and he is further troubled when he overhears the adults around him talking about the world preparing for another war. Peter awakens the next day and his hair has turned green, prompting him to run away after being taunted by the townspeople and his peers. Suddenly, appearing before him in a lonely part of the woods are the orphaned children whose pictures he saw on the posters.

They tell him that he is a war orphan, but that with his green hair he can make a difference and must tell people that war is dangerous for children. He leaves determined to deliver his message to any and all. Upon his return, the townspeople chase Peter, and even Gramps tries to encourage him to consider shaving his hair so that it might grow back normally. He agrees to get his head shaved, and the town barber does the job—that night, however, Peter runs away. Later reunited with Gramps, Peter learns that there are adults out there who accept what he has to say and want him to go on saying it. He's sure that his hair will grow back in green again, and he will continue to carry his message.


Pat O'Brien and Dean Stockwell give Oscar worthy performances as the adopted parent and orphaned boy. Stockwell especially showed tenderness and sadness in his role. For a child star to make the audience feel that in their hearts is a sign of a great talent. For a movie made only three years after the war ended, The Boy With The Green Hair was a great commentary on the plight of war orphans.

The song "Nature Boy" written by Eden Ahbez and sung by an uncredited chorus was a primary theme of the score for the motion picture. Nat King Cole's version of "Nature Boy" shot to #1 on the Billboard charts, and remained there for eight weeks straight during the summer of 1948.


The Boy With The Green Hair may be dated by today's standards, but I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a different type of movie. It is a movie that will stick with you and make you think for years to come...

my rating: 9 out of 10

1 comment:

  1. Good ol' eden ahbez. I think of him as the world's first hippy.

    A sombre and thought provoking movie with a particularly sympathetic cast. I agree with your thoughts on the Oscar worthiness of the performances from Stockwell and O'Brien. A very worthy recommendation.

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