High school students band together to dispense vigilante justice against a vicious gangland boss.High school students band together to dispense vigilante justice against a vicious gangland boss.High school students band together to dispense vigilante justice against a vicious gangland boss.
But there's no mistaking the gangster threat to this small town. As Prohibition is ending, the local mob is trying other rackets and is using the old protection scam under the guise of a guild for craft workers like tailors. When Harry Green refuses to knuckle under, chief enforcer Charles Bickford kills him in front of student leader Richard Cromwell. Later on a set alibi and smart lawyering by defense attorney Warner Richmond discredits Cromwell on the witness stand. After that Bickford kills another of their friends Michael Stuart who was breaking in and frames another Oscar Rudolph for the crime.
In a plot situations that was later used in the Dead End kids film Angels Wash Their Faces, several of the kids are given honorary government jobs for a day like mayor, district attorney, and judge. Using that power plus the charisma of leader Cromwell the kids from several schools unite, there's a few hundred of them giving us the crowd scenes that DeMille films all have. They kidnap Bickford and use some persuasion to get at the truth.
It wouldn't be a DeMille film without a little sex thrown in as well. Judith Allen gets the job to pique the interest of Bickford's bodyguard Bradley Page and separate him from Bickford which she does accomplish.
This Day And Age was accused of promoting fascism which charge DeMille strongly denied. But there's no doubt here that mob rule has definitely taken over this town and traditional law and order has broken down.
By the way, the real mayor of the town played by Samuel S. Hinds has a very interesting political perspective on the situation when the fertilizer hits the cooling unit. You'll have to see the film to get what I'm talking about if it's ever broadcast.
And let's hope TCM does broadcast it.
- May 17, 2010