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Public Defender Gary Franklin, frustrated by being unable to save criminal Dutch Adams from a death sentence by blaming the slums environment as the cause of Dutch's crimes, enlists the aid of Dutch's sister, Marcia Adams, to get the slum dwellers at appeal for public monies to provide recreational places for the slum kids. The Governor provides seed money for the creation of PAL (the Police Athletic League) and all is going well until "Stubby" Adams holds up the box office at a fund raiser for the PAL, and puts the project in jeopardy. Do-gooder story aside, the film is basically a Columbia version of the Dead End Kids, with the hard-headed Darro standing in for Leo Gorcey and Hally Chester as his stand-in Huntz Hall-like punching bag. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
( Minor Spoilers) Somewhat of a novelty about the founding of the New York Police Athletic League, PAL, in that the film "Juvenile Court" addresses the problems of growing up in the crime ridden slums of New York City, in the depression era 1930's, and what it does to the young people who are affected by growing up there, with 1950's and 1960's liberal points of views. Stubby Adams has nothing to look forward to in life but a life as a career criminal and the fact that his older brother Dutch was sentenced to the chair for murder makes it more certain that he'll follow in Dutch's footsteps.
It's when public defender, who unsuccessfully defended Dutch, Gary Franklin who's also a product of the slums decides to start a league to give the young people like Stubby a chance to get away from crime. It then that things start to get better for all involved but it's Stubby's bitterness against both Franklin and the police whom he sees as his mortal enemies that leads him after he was turning away to go back to his criminal activities. All this over a measly $5.00 tip that he got, as an usher at the PAL boxing matches, that he was forced to return in keeping PAL from going broke.
Not only going back to his life of crime but taking his friends, who are also PAL members, along with him for the ride leads to Pig Head Olsen, who was on parole from reform school, to almost end up getting killed. This happened when he jumped from a speeding car, that Stubby stole, in order to avoid being arrested by the perusing police. Stubby later has a change of life experience as he realizes what a first class jerk he is in not only wrecking his but his friends, Mickey Lefty as well as the seriously injured Pig Head, lives. Sabby did did all this damage over a $5.00 bill that ballooned into his ripping off the PAL box office of all the money that it accumulated for it's sponsored boxing matches.
It took a lot more that being a neighborhood wise guy and jailbird wannabe, like his older brother Dutch, for Stubby to not only turn himself into the police but take all the blame as well getting Lefty Mickey and Pig Head off the hook. In the end it was the grateful and forgiving young people at PAL who refused to press charges against Stubby, and give him a second chance keeping him from doing a stretch of hard time in prison. That showed Stubby that being honest and law abiding is far more rewarding then anything he could have gotten out of life as a hardened criminal. A life which lead his older brother Dutch, whom he always looked up to, to get a one way ticket to the Sing Sing hot seat.
Besides having a heart lifting storyline the movie "Juvenile Court" also has a very young, barley out of her teens, Rita Hayworth as Stubby's older sister Marcia. Who together with public defender and PAL founder Gary Franklin tried to straighten her troubled brother out. Still it was Stubby himself who in the end saw the light, in seeing what his tough guy persona was leading him into, and did it himself.
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