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A teenager (Sal Mineo) fights to retain his dignity and self-respect against the brutality, sadism and cynicism of the "big guys" around him in the brutal world of a Georgia orphanage. The young man soon becomes involved with an escaping convict from a nearby prison. Through his experience with the convict - a man unjustly sentenced - he finds within himself the strength to stand up to those who abuse their power and hopefully restore his confidence. Written by
Sal Mineo from the mean streets of the Bronx didn't quite have the acting chops to play a good old Southern home boy. Nevertheless he gives it a try in The Young Don't Cry, a most confusing film which relied primarily on his bobby sox appeal when first released.
Call me old fashioned or call me ignorant, but I'm really at a loss to understand how a kid from a boys home mixes and mingles with the convicts of a road gang in rural Georgia. But that's what we have here as Mineo seems to come and go as he pleases.
He makes friends with James Whitmore who's in for murder, for a murder he says he didn't commit, but all convicts are innocent. Whitmore is planning a crashout and he's getting help from old con Leigh Whipper.
Mineo in the meantime is having his problems at the home with the bullying Paul Carr and with the smooth talking Thomas Conlin. Whitmore knows Mineo has built his own sailing craft and he thinks it would be a big asset in his escape.
One role I really can't figure out in this film is that of Gene Lyons who plays a millionaire who was once an orphan in the home. Besides donating a gym for which he'll get a generous tax write off, his only function is to lord it over all the kids about how he made it out, but the rest won't about to nothing. He's got a beautiful wife who's also hanging around who's not crazy about what her husband does. And all those teen age hormones are going into overdrive over Dolores Rosedale.
Best in the film and he's never bad in anything is J. Carrol Naish as the head guard in the prison. Naish had one of the best ears for dialect and he cast well as just about every ethnic type you could think of. Here he plays a Southern good old boy and he's letter perfect.
I'm sure on the strength of all those teenage girls crushing out over Sal Mineo The Young Don't Cry made its money for Columbia. But it really doesn't wear well today.
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