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A district attorney investigates the racially charged case of three teenagers accused of the murder of a blind Puerto Rican boy. He begins to discover that the facts in the case aren't exactly as they seem to be. Written by
I was secretly glad that my name was Bell instead of Ballini
***SPOILERS*** 1961 motion picture loosely based on the notorious August 30,1959 Salvador Agron "Capeman killings" in New York City's Hells Kitchen. The movie has the racial backgrounds of victim and killer reversed which made the film a bit disingenuous to the movie going public back then in 1961, just two years after that terrible event. The killer Salvador Agron was Hispanic and his two teenage victims, Anthony Krezsinski and Robert Young, were white.
Three members of the white Manhattan street gang The Thunderbirds cross into Spanish Harlem on the turf of the local Puerto Rican gang The Horsemen and zero in on young and sensitive harmonica playing Roberto Escalante, Jose Perez,knifing him to death. Caught minutes after the killing are the three gang members Reardon Di Pace & Aposto, John David Chandler Stanley Kristien & Neil Nephew.
With the city D.A Daniel Cole, Edward Andrews, wanting a first degree murder conviction of the three teenage assailants, to give him a boost in the upcoming gubernatorial elections, he put's his best prosecutor on the case Asst. D.A Hank Bell, Burt Lancaster. With the three defendants claiming that they killed Roberto in self-defense their excuse falls apart like a house of cards when it's shown that he was totally blind and a threat to no one, much less themselves. It now starts to look like D.A Cole would get the first degree murder conviction that can send the three youths, all under 18, to the electric chair.
Bell who at first had no idea who the three defendants were soon realized that one of the accused killers, Danny Di Pace, is the son of a woman Mrs. Mary Di Pace ,Shelly Winters,that he was in love with years before he got married to his present wife Karin, Dina Merrill. This made prosecuting Danny very difficult and painful for him.
Slowly getting all the evidence in order and at the same time being attacked,far worse the his wife was earlier in the film, by gang members for doing his job Asst. D.A Bell finally gets to the bottom of the case. Bell finds out the real reason for Roberto's killing and it totally throws him off to what he's supposed to do in the case; get a verdict that would strap the three into the electric chair, regardless of their guilt or innocence, in order to further his boss' D.A Cole political career.
A bit ahead of it's time "The Young Savages" goes into the mental mindset of the three accused killers of blind Roberto Escalante and comes up with some startling conclusions; all three were not in full control of themselves or in what they did so a first degree murder conviction was unable to be reached by the jury. Not that they got off Scot-free for their actions and Roborto himself was anything but the innocent bystander that he was made out to be by his friends family and the liberal newspapers.
A cowardly bully with a deep inferiority complex who was the leader of the pack Arthur Reardon is given 20 to life. A mentally retarded and delusional Anthony "Batman" Aposto, who thinks that he's the Batman of comic book fame, ends up in an institution for the criminally insane until he's seen fit, by a battery of psychiatrists, to again become a member of society. It was Danny Di Pace who got off from getting heavy jail time, Danny got a year in Juvenile Hall, for just wanting to be a member of a street gang to have the family that he never knew but that involvement lead to Roberto Escalante losing his life.
Hank Bell threw away whatever future he had in the New York State D.A's office by looking at the facts and perusing Justice instead of letting the three gang member fry for the sake of his, and D.A Cole's, future in state or national politics.
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