The Boy with Green Hair
The Boy with Green Hair is a 1948 American comedy-drama film directed by Joseph Losey. It stars 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.
|The Boy with Green Hair|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joseph Losey|
|Produced by||Dore Schary|
|Written by||Ben Barzman
Alfred Lewis Levitt
|Based on||The Boy with Green Hair
1946 short story
by Betsy Beaton
|Music by||Leigh Harline
|Edited by||Frank Doyle|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Budget||$900,000 or $800,000|
Finding a curiously silent young runaway boy (Dean Stockwell) whose head has been completely shaved, small-town police call in a psychologist (Robert Ryan) and discover that he is a war orphan named Peter Fry. Moving in with an understanding retired actor named Gramps (Pat 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. The next day, after having a bath, Peter is drying his hair with a towel when, to his astonishment, he sees that 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 urge Gramps to encourage Peter to consider shaving his hair so that it might grow back normally. Peter returns to the woods to find the orphan children from the posters, but is chased by a group of boys from school who attempt to cut his hair. 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 as Gramp Fry
- Robert Ryan as Dr. Evans
- Barbara Hale as Miss Brand
- Dean Stockwell as Peter Fry
- Richard Lyon as Michael
- Walter Catlett as The King
- Samuel S. Hinds as Dr. Knudson
- Charles Meredith as Mr. Piper
- David Clarke as Barber
- Billy Sheffield as Red
- Johnny Calkins as Danny
- Teddy Infuhr as Timmy
- Dwayne Hickman as Joey
- Eilene Janssen as Peggy.
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 No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and remained there for eight weeks straight during the summer of 1948.
The 2009 film Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, which also starred (the adult) Dean Stockwell, made extensive reference to The Boy with Green Hair. Director Edward James Olmos, a fan of Stockwell's earlier film, had a replica of Peter's costume created for a war orphan character in The Plan named John. Olmos stated that he wanted John to have green hair, but the studio refused to allow it.
The film recorded a loss of $420,000.
Although the film was passed with a 'U' certificate by the British Board of Film Censors on November 26, 1948, its UK release was held back until June 19, 1950.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- "The Boy with Green Hair: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- HOLLYWOOD RESUME: Second Film in Anti-Red Cycle Starts -- Addenda By THOMAS F. BRADY HOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 May 1948: X5.
- Variety 18 February 1948 p 14
- Variety film review; November 17, 1948, page 13.
- Harrison's Reports film review; November 20, 1948, page 186.
- Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
- io9 Edward James Olmos interview
- Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 420
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-30.
- Beaton, Betsy (with sidebar containing brief appreciation by James Hilton). "The Boy With Green Hair". This Week. December 29, 1946. p. 10.
- Berg, Louis. "Movies: 'The Boy With Green Hair; A boy who was different first made a hit in THIS WEEK fiction story". This Week. August 1, 1948. p. 12
- "Please Don't Tell Why His Hair is Green!" (full page ad). Life. November 1, 1948.
- "Green Hair Trouble: Hollywood titans wage a battle over a modest little movie with a message". Life. December 6, 1948. pp 81 and 83-84.