Rival gangs in a small city are escalating their violence: the Pepper Tree Gang of poor whites and a group from the Mexican section of town have traded an eye for an eye. The Mexican gang, led by Danny, is having a dance that night at their new club; the police think the Pepper Tree Gang will show up to fight. A lieutenant asks Danny to agree to a truce, and Danny takes a walk to think about it - going over the last nine years of his life in an angry world that's made him feel isolated and unloved. He thinks back to a friend's death when they were 10. He has an insight into his past and he goes to the lieutenant. Is there a path out of violence? Written by
The "explosion" effect at the start of the film's credits was achieved by splicing in a few frames of the beginning of a roll of film, which was exposed when loading the camera. Sid Davis and editor Arthur Swerdloff followed that with a cut to a second palm tree, beside the first, without a top. They placed something near the top of the tree to smoke, making it appear as if the gang boys had blown the top off a palm tree. See more »
There are a lot of technical problems with this picture that make it pretty bad. The whole thing was shot MOS and the occasional bits of dialogue were looped inexpertly, and often by people who couldn't read the lines with any verisimilitude. In addition, the print I saw -- broadcast on TCM today -- is grainy, fuzzy and the color has distorted over the years.
Yet there is tremendous documentary realism in this piece. First, the gang members are played by actual gang members -- several of them are thanked for their help in the opening credits. Combined with the poor prints, that produces a documentary feel to the movie. The narration, spoken with a Latino accent about how the particular gang came together tries to justify the gangs, but it is not very convincing, and that also makes it seem more real.
Although undoubtedly intended as a pure exploitation movie -- Sid Davis did a lot of them -- these details make it an accidental masterpiece.
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