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
A social worker tries to tame a street gang. Cassavetes is pretty good in his second film credit, although he was a bit old at 26 to be playing a teen. Rydell is quite creepy in his film debut as a psychotic gang member who can't conceal his glee at the thought of committing murder. Rydell, like Cassavetes, went on to become a director. His second film role would not come until 1973 in Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye," when he played another frightening character. Mineo plays a character not unlike the one had just played in "Rebel Without a Cause." In his follow-up to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," Siegel creates a gritty atmosphere but stresses the melodramatics.
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