By Jerome Reuter
With talk of an MST3K revival, I’m flooded with memories of really bad, and yet wildly enjoyable movies. It almost makes me want to watch Pod People. However, there was one film that was passed over by this show, with no hesitation. A 1938 B movie simply called Child Bride. Still popular in many exploitation circles, and despised by many others as gratuitous trash.
My opinion? This is a movie that definitely needs to go in the ‘What the fuck’ category. Forgive my lack of articulation, but that’s the best way to describe this one. So what’s the story? Well sit back friend reader, (and forgive my Marquis De Sade reference) and let me explain.
The story of this film is set in the Ozark Mountains, and focuses on child marriage. When I say child marriage, I’m not talking of children getting married to one another. I’m referring to adult men getting married to young girls. The film even opens up with a disclaimer, claiming the purpose of this film is to educate, and abolish this practice. This is something you’ll find in many exploitation films. Having flicks creep under the wire, and disguising them as educational, or beneficial. They even attempted this with Ilsa: She Wolf Of The SS.
As far as either of those films being educational, I call shenanigans.
Not even kidding, Child Bride even claims to either ‘ridicule or condone’ these peoples traditions during the opening disclaimer. Trust me, when it comes to this film—there’s plenty to ridicule. The bulk of the story centers around a young girl named Jenny, her friend Freddie, a schoolteacher simply named Ms. Carol, and what appear to be the ancestors of the extras from Deliverance.
So here’s the plot—in a nutshell. Jenny is betrothed to a much older man, who even gives her a doll instead of an engagement ring. (Wasn’t that thoughtful?) Concerned educator Ms. Carol is on crusade to ban child marriage from the Ozarks, and try to teach back yonder folks that reading is good. That’s the gist of this one; those are your two main points that this film goes on.
Aside from the obvious subject matter, that many people might find hard to watch—there’s also domestic violence, moonshine, a midget, and plenty of ethnic stereotypes. Despite all this, this is really something you have to see to believe. We live in a world of trigger warnings, political correctness, and films being banned for just about anything that might be considered offensive. In a way, this film is a time capsule. Something like this would never be made today. This film exists as pubic domain now, so it’s easily accessible. It’s worth a watch, at least once.