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With: John Cassavetes, Sal Mineo, James Whitmore, Mark Rydell, Virginia Gregg, Peter J. Votrian, Will Kuluva, Malcolm Atterbury, Denise Alexander, Dan Terranova, Peter Miller, Steve Rowland
Written by: Reginald Rose
Directed by: Don Siegel
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 91
Date: 06/10/1956

Crime in the Streets (1956)

3 Stars (out of 4)

JD Time

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Don Siegel's "juvenile delinquent" picture Crime in the Streets (1956) includes the first starring role of John Cassavetes. Set-bound and message-heavy, the film depends heavily on Cassavetes' intensity and Siegel's brutality to make it work. It starts with a back-alley rumble -- taking place over the opening credits -- and continues in its aftermath. One of the members of the Hornets has a gun, and a middle-age neighbor, Mr. McAllister (Malcolm Atterbury), snitches on him, sending him to prison. The leader of the Hornets, Frankie Dane (Cassavetes), decides to do something the gang has never done before: kill the rat.

Most of the gang refuses to join in, except the giggling sociopath Lou (Mark Rydell), and the 15 year-old "Baby" (Sal Mineo), who is desperate to fit in. Meanwhile, a savvy social worker, Wagner (James Whitmore), begins to realize that something is going on and tries to speak to Frankie in a way that he'll understand. Sandwiched somewhere between Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story, this one is less wounded than the former, but much tougher than the latter, and it's almost constantly gripping.

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