Dec 4, 2019

The Explosive Generation: Billy Gray in Love

In spite of the beefcake on the posters and lobby cards, The Explosive Generation (1961) doesn't offer many swimsuit, underwear, or locker room scenes, though there are lots of clean-cut 1950s teens in tight pants.

It does offer some significant gay subtexts, as rich kid Bobby (Billy Gray of Father Knows Best, right) moons over basketball star Dan (the muscular Lee Kinsolving, left), and invites him to a wild party at his parents' beach house.

They dance, drink beer, and Bobby tries to talk Dan into having sex with his girlfriend Janet (Patty McCormack, center, best known as the murderous little girl in The Bad Seed). 

 Wait -- why does Bobby care so much about whether Dan has sex with a girl?  What kind of vicarious pleasure can he get from. . .oh, right, the subtext.

That's why this poster shows the two of them dragging her toward a three-way triangulation.

Janet is reluctant -- how far should a girl go to prove her love to a boy?

So she brings up the subject in class.  Fortunately, she has one of those hip, caring, hunky teachers who are always trying to make a difference: Peter Gifford (William Shatner), who is as horny as Captain Kirk meeting an alien princess, making every statement a double-entendre and putting his hands all over the bodies of both male and female students (not to mention dragging a boy out of a girl's arms so he can have him for himself).

Gifford decides to conduct a survey about students' attitudes toward sex.  Parents find out, and become apoplectic with outrage.  The principal starts screaming.  The cops get involved.   Gifford is asked to apologize (that's all?)

Bobby leads a student protest  -- but not one of those loud protests of the hippie generation.  They give the teachers the silent treatment.  And the principal backs down. Problem solved.

The Explosive Generation is not very explosive, but it provides an interesting view of how histrionic parents got -- and still get -- over the idea of their teenagers having sex.


  1. I never heard of Lee Kingsolver. He's got quite a physique. Does he appear in anything else?

  2. The IMDB says that he was in a number of tv series from the late 1950s through 1969, when he retired from acting. Probably nothing with substantial beefcake, though.

  3. Billy Gray and William Shatner together is the stuff of slash fiction

  4. I feel badly that Billy was labelled "dope fiend" in the press at the time. If he had not been arrested his career still would've gone in the same downhill direction, being typecast as "Bud Anderson". In 'Explosive Generation' he's still playing a high school student, but in real life he was 20 or 21, the age most people are finishing up college. IMO he was gorgeous then and developed into a rugged, handsome man.


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