Teen delinquency pictures were all the rage in the 50s with titles like High School Confidential (1958) and of course the most iconic one of all, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) with James Dean. In the 30s and 40s, tough street kids grew up to become successful gangsters but in the 50s the issue was presented in a more complex manner that hinted the increasingly confused youth were in danger of never making it past their teen years. In Crime in the Streets, the teen whose soul is in question is John Cassavetes and his character is nothing like James Dean's in Rebel Without a Cause. While Dean's performance was emotional and sensitive, Cassavetes is a powder keg just looking for a reason to blow. That reason comes in the form of Mr. McAllister (Malcolm Atterbury).
|John Cassavetes and the 'Hornets' get read to rumble|
|The 'Hornets' all follow Cassavetes' lead until he plans to go too far|
|Malcolm Atterbury as the cantankerous 'Mr. McAllister' who believes teens should have sense beaten into them|
|McAllister's actions are just what Cassavetes needed to become unhinged|
|Mark Rydell, John Cassavetes and Sal Mineo plot a murder|
|James Whitmore as the more understanding social worker|
|Peter Votrian as the sensitive younger brother|
|Mark Rydell as Lou|
|Sal Mineo's father continues to call him Baby at age 15|
It is not particularly a great film. The year before it hit the big screen, it was a live television play broadcast as part of 'The Elgin Hour' which also starred both Cassavetes and Rydell and was directed by Sidney Lumet. Yet Cassavetes as the youth about to explode into something he can never turn back from makes it compelling and engaging, not to mention he is supported by solid performances by Mark Rydell, Virginia Gregg, Sal Mineo and Peter Votrian.