The Dark End of the Street (1981) Poster

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Good luck trying to find it
preppy-326 February 2003
A totally independent film shot in Boston and Cambridge. My memory is a little hazy about the plot (I saw it over 20 years ago) but here's what I remember:

A young woman (Harrington) lives in the projects but dreams of a better life. Her best friend is a black girl her age. One night she witnesses a murder and recognizes the killer...but he's either the boyfriend or brother of her best friend. She tells the police and he's arrested but it tears apart her friendship. Did she do the right thing?

Film explores being a teenager, racial relationships, growing up in the Cambridge projects in the late 70s, truth vs. friendship all in realistic, believable ways. All the acting is excellent and it makes great use of some Cambridge landmarks--it's amusing to see a bunch of the girls go to Faces nightclub which was closed in the early 80s (but it's still standing!).

I caught this on local TV in 1979 (it didn't get a full blown release until 1981) and never forgot it. It dealt with an issue (racism) that existed in Cambridge back then but was never really acknowledged. Also it was great seeing places I recognized and hung out at on TV.

Good luck finding a print of this--it hasn't played anywhere since 1981!
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Wonderful film
karlbunker19 July 2011
Reviewer Wayne Malin got the plot a little wrong -- A teenager falls from a roof in an accident, not a murder, and as I recall (it's been a long time since I saw this film too), it's not clear at the end of the movie if his injuries are fatal. But I think he got most everything else right. Both Wayne and I may be hazy on plot details, but nevertheless we're in agreement that the emotional impact of the piece is unforgettable.

It may seem a cheap cliché' to praise a movie's "gritty realism," but I can't think of a better term for what this beautiful little film has in spades. The teenagers (and adults) in it are utterly, completely believable as they deal with poverty, racial tensions, honesty, loyalty, friendship, running away versus facing life's responsibilities. Also in the mix are some less-ennobling aspects of being human, like pointless, testosterone-fueled schoolyard one-upsmanship and plain teenaged stupidity.

This is a sadly-overlooked gem of a movie, and I hope it finds its way to DVD distribution some day.
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