"Think of a law, they've broken it. Think of a crime, they've committed it." A tense, tough story of teenage gangs committing acts of robbery, violence, and murder. The leader of the gang ...
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"Think of a law, they've broken it. Think of a crime, they've committed it." A tense, tough story of teenage gangs committing acts of robbery, violence, and murder. The leader of the gang finds himself torn between his own brother and his sleazyu, (but very good looking) girlfriend. 35mm. Written by
Most of German and Austrian mainstream cinema of the fifties was light musical comedy, sentimental drama or "Heimatfilm" (escapist love stories, set on the countryside - the Alps, Black Forest or Lüneburger Heide - glorifying natural environment, folklore and the "virtues" of the plain and simple country folk). There was hardly a realistic view of (West-)German society during the years of the "Economic Miracle". Young author Will Tremper did not like that sentimental stuff. Obviously influenced by Hollywood teen dramas ("The Wild One", "The Blackboard Jungle", "Rebel Without a Cause") he and director Georg Tressler in 1956 realized Germany's first look on juvenile delinquency, a film that is now regarded a classic of German post-war cinema. This one is hard, raw and realistic, omitting any false sentimentality or romanticism. Out of all German film made in the fifties it is my personal number one! The cast is fantastic, above all the lead triangle: Horst Buchholz as Freddy the leader of the pack, barely 16-year-old Karin Baal as "Sissy", a teenage "femme fatale" (Don't mind her name, she has absolutely nothing in common with the Romy Schneider character!) and Christian Doermer as Freddy's ambivalent younger brother Jan. The rest of the gang are roughly characterized and do a great job as well. Paul Wagner and Viktoria von Ballasko as Freddy's and Jan's parents as well as Stanislaw Ledinek as the Italian running an ice-cream parlor also give great performances. The storyline is as follows - In an indoor swimming pool Jan meets his brother Freddy who had moved out after a quarrel with his father, an embittered tyrant. Jan knows that his parents need 3,000 Deutschmarks (quite a lot in those days) to pay their debts. Jan asks Freddy who pretends to have a good job if he could help them. Freddy says yes, while preparing a mail car robbery that would not only allow him to help his parents but to fulfill his dream - buying a Buick Cabriolet. Jan, who seems to smell something fishy, nevertheless accompanies his brother... No spoilers, but young Baal has a great scene as the "bad girl". The film was shot on location in West Berlin and has nearly everything you are longing for - dark alleys, petticoats, leather jackets, American cars, dances, sex and crime. The only thing missing is Rock 'n' Roll. The jukebox only plays conventional jazz music. But all in all this is of minor importance. In 1957 "Die Halbstarken" could be seen - in a dubbed version, titled "Teenage Wolfpack" - in Britain and the US as well. After "Die Halbstarken" Tressler made many films and TV productions until the 1990s. Tremper continued as a screenwriter and director of nonconformist films. He passed away in 1998. While Buchholz became an international Star and died in 2003, Baal and Doermer have made their own careers in German Film and Television. They are still (2006) around and can frequently be seen on TV.
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