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Youth gang leader Jerry Florea is shot fleeing from a crime scene by rookie cop Ed Gallagher. Result: "he'll never have children of his own." Ed and Jerry develop a mutually beneficial friendship: Jerry gets the benefit of the doubt, Ed gets information that brings him rapid promotion. As years and jail terms go by, Ed's friendship with this likable rogue becomes strained, as hope for his reform dwindles. Can Jerry redeem himself in the end?Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
This film is a crime drama that traces the strange relationship of a street smart hoodlum (Tony Curtis) with a straight arrow cop over 20 years. The film starts out with Sal Mineo playing adolescent hoodlum Jerry Florea in 1933, robbing street vendors of fruit with his gang and doing some nighttime breaking and entering. It is fleeing after one of these nighttime burglaries when Florea is shot by rookie cop Edward Gallagher (George Nader). Ed thought he shot an adult, and is upset when he realizes he shot a kid, plus due to his wound Jerry will never be able to have kids of his own. Being that this is during the production code era, that is as detailed as the wound description gets. The community is in an uproar over the shooting of a child, juvenile delinquent or not, but Gallagher manages to keep his job. Gallagher's guilt does cause him to strike up a friendship with Jerry that begins as Jerry is recovering in the hospital. Jerry gives Gallagher tips on crimes that help his career, and Ed tries to befriend the boy and point him in the right direction, only to be let down time and again.
Both Curtis and Mineo were great in this. They really do seem to be playing the exact same character at different ages. As adult Jerry Florea, Curtis flashes that charming smile of his and plays the lying sociopath so well that even an audience should have a hard time determining when he is conscientious and when he is not. Florea can be violent when he needs to be, but mainly thieving and its thrill are his game. He doesn't even seem to enjoy the actual fruit of his theft that much.
An interesting piece of trivia - Sammy Davis Jr. sings the film's theme song. It was in route to the recording studio to sing this song that he had the car accident that caused him to lose an eye.
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