Blackboard Jungle, Juvenile delinquency, Controversial


So violent it gained reference in the United States Congress, so extreme it caused the U.S. Ambassador to Italy to force its banning from the Venice Film Festival, so explicit it brought widespread disapproval from educators, Richard Brooks' Blackboard Jungle (1955) exploded across the silver screen with an intensity and honesty that was frightening as well as controversial. Released at a peak in the U.S. Congress' investigation into the mass media's influence on juvenile delinquency, Blackboard Jungle set off a fury of protest from enraged parents and teachers. The film also marked the beginning of a new Hollywood fascination with juvenile delinquency which would be firmly established with that year's later release of Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean. Based on Evan Hunter's 1954 novel by the same title and underscored by the driving rhythms of Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock", Blackboard Jungle frightened many adults yet earned high school students vote as favorite film of 1955.1 National audiences' extreme reactions to the film evidenced its pivotal significance in focusing public attention upon a growing national fear-juvenile delinquency.