The Boy with Green Hair

The Boy with Green Hair

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Losey
Produced by Dore Schary
Written by Ben Barzman
Alfred Lewis Levitt
Based on The Boy with Green Hair
1946 short story
by Betsy Beaton
Starring Robert Ryan
Pat O'Brien
Dean Stockwell
Music by Leigh Harline
Constantin Bakaleinikoff
Cinematography George Barnes
Edited by Frank Doyle
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • December 27, 1948 (1948-12-27) (U.S.)[1]
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $900,000[2] or $800,000[3]

The Boy with Green Hair is a 1948 American comedy-drama film directed by Joseph Losey.[4][5] It stars Dean Stockwell as Peter, a young war orphan who is subject to ridicule after he awakens one morning to find his hair mysteriously turned green. Co-stars include Pat O'Brien, Robert Ryan, and Barbara Hale.


Finding a curiously silent young runaway boy (Dean Stockwell) whose head has been completely shaved, small-town police call in a psychologist (Robert Ryan) and discover that he is a war orphan named Peter Fry. Moving in with an understanding retired actor named Gramps (Pat O'Brien), Peter starts attending school and generally begins living the life of a normal boy until his class gets involved with trying to help war orphans in Europe and Asia.

Peter soon realizes that—like the children on the posters, whose images haunt him—he, too, is a war orphan. The realization about his parents and the work helping the orphans makes Peter turn very serious, and he is further troubled when he overhears the adults around him talking about the world preparing for another war. The next day, after having a bath, Peter is drying his hair with a towel when, to his astonishment, he sees that his hair has turned green, prompting him to run away after being taunted by the townspeople and his peers.

Suddenly, appearing before him in a lonely part of the woods are the orphaned children whose pictures he saw on the posters. They tell him that he is a war orphan, but that with his green hair he can make a difference and must tell people that war is dangerous for children. He leaves determined to deliver his message to any and all. Upon his return, the townspeople chase Peter, and even Gramps tries to encourage him to consider shaving his hair so that it might grow back normally. He agrees to get his head shaved, and the town barber does the job—that night, however, Peter runs away. Later reunited with Gramps, Peter learns that there are adults out there who accept what he has to say and want him to go on saying it. He's sure that his hair will grow back in green again, and he will continue to carry his message.


Dale Robertson and Russ Tamblyn appear uncredited (Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide).


The song "Nature Boy" written by eden ahbez and sung by an uncredited chorus was a primary theme of the score for the motion picture. Nat King Cole's version of "Nature Boy" shot to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and remained there for eight weeks straight during the summer of 1948.

Cultural references

The 2009 film Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, which also starred (the adult) Dean Stockwell, made extensive reference to The Boy with Green Hair. Director Edward James Olmos, a fan of Stockwell's earlier film, had a replica of Peter's costume created for a war orphan character in The Plan named John. Olmos stated that he wanted John to have green hair, but the studio refused to allow it.[6]

Scenes from the film are included in Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters: The Film directed by Bruce Weber and part of Barneys New York spring 2014 campaign Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters[7] with seventeen transgender individuals.[8][9][10]


The film recorded a loss of $420,000.[11]

Although the film was passed with a 'U' certificate by the British Board of Film Censors on November 26, 1948, its UK release was held back until June 19, 1950.

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See Also

Dondi, a comic strip about a WWII war orphan that was also made into a movie.


  1. "The Boy with Green Hair: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  2. HOLLYWOOD RESUME: Second Film in Anti-Red Cycle Starts -- Addenda By THOMAS F. BRADY HOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 May 1948: X5.
  3. Variety 18 February 1948 p 14
  4. Variety film review; November 17, 1948, page 13.
  5. Harrison's Reports film review; November 20, 1948, page 186.
  6. io9 Edward James Olmos interview
  7. Brothers, Sisters, Sons, & Daughters: Introducing The Spring 2014 Campaign
  8. Brothers, Sisters, Sons, & Daughters: The Film
  9. "Brothers, Sisters, Sons, & Daughters: The Film" at Vimeo
  10. "Brothers, Sisters, Sons, & Daughters: The Film" at YouTube
  11. Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 420
  12. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-30.

Further reading

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