On a city's mean streets, the boys join gangs at 15. Frankie leads the Hornets: he's 18, seething, coiled. When a neighbor goes to the cops after seeing one of the Hornets with a zip gun, Frankie vows to kill the old guy, hatching a plan using Lou, who smiles and smokes, and "Baby," the 15-year-old son of an immigrant shopkeeper. Ben Wagner, the social worker at a neighborhood settlement house, gets wind of the plan and tries to break through to Frankie. Frankie's brother Richie, who's about 12, worships and fears Frankie; he also figures out what his brother is up to. Is Frankie doomed to crash and burn at 18? Written by
Crime in the Streets is directed by Don Siegel and written by Reginald Rose. It stars John Cassavetes, James Whitmore, Sal Mineo, Mark Rydell, Virginia Gregg, Peter J. Votrian, Will Kuluva and Malcolm Atterbury. Music is scored by Franz Waxman and cinematography by Sam Leavitt.
Social worker Ben Wagner (Whitmore) tries to help local slum gang, The Hornets, especially their troubled leader Frankie Dane (Cassavetes).
When your body hits that sidewalk nobody will even turn around to look at yah.
Decent "juve delinquent" lecture movie, Crime in the Streets boasts some mightily impressive performances and closes on a (expected) piece of dramatic worth, but the screenplay is staid and pic is claustrophobic for all the wrong reasons. There's a cramped cheapness to the production that doesn't suit the narrative and you can feel Siegel straining with every sinew to light a tinderbox with a damp match. However, Cassavetes' intense firecracker performance is worth the time of any classic era film fan, and with Whitmore doing good and controlled earnest and Gregg (sadly underused) tugging away at the maternal heart strings, it still comes out in credit. There's a bonus, too, in the form of Waxman's blending of stabby jazz shards with momentum building percussion, it's quality, even if ultimately it deserves a better movie. 6/10
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