This extravagant tonsorial fable is set in a small American town and concerns Peter Frye (Dean Stockwell), a sensitive small boy who lives with “Gramp,” (Pat O’Brien) a whimsical old circus performer.
While engaged in a drive for clothing for homeless Europeans, Peter discovers that he is himself a war orphan (his parents were killed in the Blitz in London). After he recovers from the shock he finds that his hair has turned green.
Tormented by his schoolfellows and shunned by the townsfolk, he takes to the woods.
He is met there by the spirits of some of the dead orphans he had seen depicted on posters and they inform him that they changed the colour of his hair so that he can attract attention as an anti-war propagandist.
“Gramp” advises him to have his head shaved, but he only consents because he is confident that his hair will still be green when it grows again. He is determined to continue the crusade.
Robert Ryan plays the psychiatrist to whom the boy tells his tale.
Dean Stockwell contributes a remarkably clever performance in the title role but is the only one who succeeds in keeping both feet firmly on the ground.
The film’s aims are both lofty and sincere but it comes across as well-meaning but vague and sugary, and fails to clarify its message, let alone wrap it in popular entertainment.
Samuel S. Hinds