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
Based on a true story of a truce between Anglo and Mexican gangs in Los Angeles, California in the early 1950s. The Anglo and Mexican gangs are played by the actual Anglo and Mexican gangs who reached the truce. The gangs had script supervision, went by their own actual names and nicknames, and chose who would play which role. See more »
Interesting artifact, very much a reflection of its time. During those post-war years, juvenile delinquency grew as a national concern as a teenage sub-culture began to emerge. In urban areas, gang "rumbles" often made headlines as youths clashed with chains, fists, and sometimes, knives, as dramatized in this 30-minute short. These could be seen as "turf' wars or, at times, as racial clashes, but rarelyif I recall the LA area of this short correctly was anyone killed. Note how the solution portrayed here can be described as a "liberal" one that is, by appealing to youths' better instincts, instead of the more traditional reform school path.
However, gangs-- at least in the last 50 years-- have evolved from street-level "clubs" into criminal enterprises, trafficking in drugs, guns, and other illicit activities that are often connected with adult-level prison gangs like the Mexican Mafia or the Aryan Brotherhood. Unlike the 1950's, rivalries are now routinely settled with "drive-by" shootings, at the same time, the bodies pile up in poorer and minority neighborhoods. Younger kids can easily be recruited since gang membership offers both status and the prospect of a money-making future. Just as importantly, liberal solutions, as portrayed in the Davis short, offer little prospect of success, while only those programs addressing the deeper causes of poverty and racism hold much promise.
Nonetheless, this earnest little docu-drama presents an interesting contrast to such sensationalized youth films of the time as Rebel Without a Cause (1955) or The Blackboard Jungle (1955). I am curious, however, where the producers expected the 30-minutes to be shown and to what effect.
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