Here’s another good one from childhood. Though it was made several years before I was born, I was probably about 10 years old when I first saw it in the middle of the night.
Bless the Beasts & Children is a highly captivating coming of age drama that tells the story of “The Bed Wetters”, a motley crew of social outcasts. Put together during summer camp, they suffer being made fun of at the hands of the “cool kids”. After enduring so many public humiliations at camp (including a public spanking), “The Bed Wetters” plan to break out of summer camp together.
Lead by Cotton and Teft (Barry Robins and Bill Mumy) they decide that along the way they would free a captive heard of endangered buffalo. The buffalo heard is being domesticated by a group of local hunters where they take turns shooting them in cages for “sport”. The boys see the buffalo as a representation of themselves, under dogs that are getting picked on by a group of bully’s.
Probably the Stand By Me of it’s day, Bless the Beasts & Children is a timeless theme for those of us that felt like we didn’t fit in or got bullied at one point or another. It is an important film. Directed by Stanley Kramer who also helmed The Defiant Ones with Sidney Potier and Tony Curtis and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Bless the Beasts & Children earned itself an Oscar nomination for Best Music/Original Score by Barry De Vorzon, who also did music for The Warriors (1979) and TV’s Simon & Simon. Look for The Carpenter’s performing a song with the same title in the opening credits.
Barry Robins would ad two more credits to his acting resume, most notably guest starring in an episode of Columbo (1975). Barry passed away in 1986, he was 41 years old. Bill Mumy, who played Will Robinson on TV’s Lost in Space for 3 years, can still be heard doing voices for family friendly cartoons. I myself had the good fortune to meet Bill Mumy while working with him on the SciFi cult TV series, Babylon 5 back in the 90’s.
There is VERY little available about this film, which is a shame. I doubt it will get a Blue-Ray release since it never made it to DVD or Laser disc. However, some good samaritan put the film on youtube in 10 minute increments. Because the trailer for this film doesn’t actually do Bless the Beasts & Children justice, I’m including the first 10 mins below. I’d say it’s worth your time.