From high school to the slammer | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

From high school to the slammer 

Frederick Wiseman's Juvenile Court documents the trials of youth

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Juvenile Court: prostitution, molestation, LSD, robbery, and more.

Juvenile Court: prostitution, molestation, LSD, robbery, and more.

An early masterpiece by the great documentary maker Frederick Wiseman, this 1973 black-and-white feature takes viewers inside the juvenile court system in Memphis as lawyers and social workers wrestle with the dilemmas common to prosecuting teen and preteen offenders. Among them are a 12-year-old girl charged with prostitution, a male babysitter accused of sexual molestation, a hopeless stoner charged with selling LSD, and a young man who served as wheelman for his pal's robbery and now tearfully insists he was coerced. The movie represented a quantum leap for Wiseman in terms of narrative reach: though it runs 144 minutes, substantially longer than anything he'd ever attempted, it's never less than engrossing. With its high drama and telling detail, it confirms the director's already formidable skills as a storyteller and a silent, penetrating observer of American institutions.

What others are saying

  • Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

    We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

    Are you in?

      Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
      Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
      Reader Radical $15/month →  
      Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

    Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

     One-time donation  → 

    Film Details

    Comments

    Subscribe to this thread:

    Add a comment

    Popular Stories