The Young Girl Dares Not Homeward (1970)
Reviewed by: duriandave on 2005-10-20
The Young Girl Dares Not Homeward is a classic old-school Cantonese melodrama updated for the times. The opening title sequence of the film promptly establishes the forces of evil that threaten the sanctity of the family and good people everywhere. Shot after shot of lurid neon bar signs are accompanied by driving rock music. On the side of evil, we have the snobby sports-car bitch who looks down on fellow students Connie Chan and Nancy Sit; Peter Kuo, the rich kid who does whatever he wants, like stalking Connie in his car; the irresponsible parents, Peter’s dad who spoils him and lets him get away with hell and Nancy’s mom and pop who spend all their time gambling; Miss Hua, the mistress of the bar where Nancy and Connie end up working; and a host of gangsters and jerks who try to force themselves on Connie.

On the side of good, we have Connie, the dutiful daughter who walks to school so that her poor ailing father won’t pawn his overcoat to pay for her bus fare; Mr. Ho, the concerned teacher who looks after Connie and becomes her advocate and savior; Inspector Tao, who gives money to Connie’s parents when he sees how poor they are; and Nancy, who selflessly offers to pay Connie’s debt to Miss Hua so she can stop working at the bar.

Class consciousness speaks loudly in this film. Lack of money causes problem after problem. As Miss Hua tells Mr. Ho when he unsuccessfully tries to rescue Connie from her job as a bar hostess by buying off her debt, “You can’t do anything if you don’t have money.” Nancy first gets work as a bar girl so she can own a sports car like the snobby girl does. Cars are dangerous emblems of wealth and selfishness. Peter Kuo stalks and terrorizes Connie in his car and also tries to run over Mr. Ho when he comes to her defense.

Although all is made right in the end, The Young Girl Dares Not Homeward is a pretty grim film with surprising violent moments and a noir-ish mood throughout. Nancy does get to sing a lively song at a party, but the other two songs by Connie are very sad songs. Connie doesn’t fight in this film; she remains the virtuous victim throughout. As much as I would have preferred to see Connie fight back and save the day, I still really enjoyed her performance in this top-notch melodrama.

There are two VCD versions of this film: the version sold as Girl Wanders Around has English subtitles while the version sold as I’ll Remember You Always does not.
Reviewer Score: 9