The year a film was released has never been a determining factor in my viewing decisions. That’s why when I stumbled upon the 1948 American film with the intriguing title The Boy with Green Hair my interest was instantly piqued.
The premise of the story focuses on Peter, a young orphaned boy (played by Dean Stockwell who went on to star in more than 90 films after this one) whose hair inexplicably turns green overnight. Since that moment, Peter struggles to gain acceptance, learning in the process that he needs to first accept himself.
There is a common belief (though I don’t subscribe to it) that one should not use equal criteria when reviewing new releases versus ones from the past. Yet the audience can’t go back in time and see the film through the eyes of the people who originally viewed it, which is why I like take the approach of reviewing a movie as if the readers of the review are people who have just seen the film or are about to.
The Boy with Green Hair did not provide much in terms of suspense and, I have to admit, I looked at my watch twice while viewing it (never a good sign while watching a film) to see how much time remained. But the message of the story and several great scenes (an uplifting one with boys singing in a car and a sad one at the barber shop among them), made it an OK movie.
With the central young character facing conformity expectations of the people around him, the film’s narrative could be classified as one belonging to the Coming-of-Age genre. The scenes featuring singing and music give away the age of the film (nowadays no one would include much singing in a feature film for fear of appearing cheesy) yet, even so, they emit warmth and joyfulness.
The film also features one of the most touching inter-generational relationships I have seen in cinema — between Peter and Gramps (an older gentlemen who takes the young orphan under his care) — so much so that The Boy with Green Hair could be shown to people for the wonderful portrayal of the way in which boys (and girls for that matter) ought to be treated if one is to earn their trust and affection.
The events in a film, if seen metaphorically, have a significant relevance to the present (just substitute the hair color with skin color, body shape or sexuality).
The Boy with Green Hair Official Trailer