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City Across the River (1949)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 4 July 1949 (USA)
The macho head of an urban community center tries to reform juvenile delinquents.


Maxwell Shane


Maxwell Shane (screenplay), Dennis J. Cooper (screenplay) (as Dennis Cooper) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen McNally ... Stan Albert
Thelma Ritter ... Mrs. Katie Cusack
Luis Van Rooten Luis Van Rooten ... Joe Cusack
Jeff Corey ... Police Lieutenant Louie Macon
Sharon McManus Sharon McManus ... Alice Cusack
Sue England ... Betty Maylor
Barbara Whiting ... Annie Kane
Richard Benedict ... Gaggsy Steens
Peter Fernandez ... Frank Cusack
Al Ramsen Al Ramsen ... Benjamin 'Benny' Wilks
Joshua Shelley Joshua Shelley ... Theodore 'Crazy' Perrin
Tony Curtis ... Mitch (as Anthony Curtis)
Mickey Knox ... Larry
Richard Jaeckel ... Bull
Al Eben Al Eben ... Detective Kleiner


Brooklyn youth Frank Cusack, good son and brother by day, is a gang member by night. The Dukes, seemingly likable dead-end-kids, are dangerously involved with racketeer Gaggsy Steens. Despite the efforts of Franks's parents, he and pal Benny get involved in a serious crime. Can Stan Albert, head of the community center, prevent them from becoming full-time crooks? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The shock-drama of our wayward boys and girls !


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 July 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Amboy Dukes See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The subdivision in which the new house mentioned in the movie is located is called "Canarsie Terrace". These houses are located on Rockaway Parkway near Avenue N in Canarsie, Brooklyn, NY 11236. See more »


Mitch: Hey, what are you doing all suited up?
See more »

Crazy Credits

First credited film appearance of Tony Curtis (as Anthony Curtis). See more »


Followed by Girls in the Night (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

Forgotten film among first to address post-war juvenile delinquency
1 April 2002 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

While the noir cycle sensed, in its oblique way, most of the tremors affecting America in the post-war years, one subject that remains conspicuous in its absence is juvenile delinquency. Though alienated youth cropped up now and again – in The Big Night, in Moonrise, in Talk About A Stranger and even, arguably, in The Window – they were viewed as individual cases, not as a social phenomenon. (It wasn't until the cycle had largely petered out that such films as The Blackboard Jungle and The Wild One emerged in the mid-1950s.)

One exception was City Across The River, based on Irving Shulman's novel The Amboy Dukes. Though noirish in its look and urban setting, it's probably safe to call it a social-message movie (as was Nicholas Ray's Knock On Any Door, of the same year). It takes us to the slums of Brooklyn at a time when slums were slums and when conventional wisdom held that the root of juvenile delinquency was the turn-of-the-century tenements themselves – the physical plant, not the inculturated attitudes that perpetuate the culture of poverty and crime.

Peter Fernandez plays the central character of the story, a teen-ager whose parents work holidays and double-shifts to make ends meet (his mom is Thelma Ritter). But he hangs around with members of a `club' called The Dukes (among them `Anthony' Curtis), whose older members seem to be rising lieutenants in the world of petty crime. Of course, in accordance with the official idiom of the times, the toughs caper and cavort like The Dead End Kids, and the worst epithet they hurl at one another is `you crumb.'

Fernandez and friend confront a shop teacher who's responsible for their suspension and accidentally kill him with one of the zip-guns that seem to be the main enterprise of the school's industrial-arts program. In fear and panic, they not only raise suspicion but burn most of their bridges behind them. The movie ends unsentimentally – even harshly.

The task of directing fell to the unlikely Maxwell Shane, whose most polished credits in the noir cycle are Fear in The Night and its remake Nightmare, oneiric cheapies that created a fantasy world. Yet he does surprisingly effective work in City Across the River, putting together a plausible neighborhood of vegetable peddlers, candy shops and pool halls. Despite the dated and bowdlerized street argot, the movie stays involving and humane without retreating into cliche (Fernandez' fall isn't assigned an easy scapegoat) or crocodile tears.

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