One Crime In Particular: The ’56 Movie, “Crime in the Streets” (The Films of Don Siegel #2)

He looks too old for the part, but John Cassavetes is vividly first-rate as an 18-year-old gang leader in Don Siegel’s Crime in the Streets (1956).

Here, a trio of punks plan to murder a working-class gent who caused a fellow street tough to be arrested.  Frankie (Cassavetes), the only punk who is never reluctant about the plan, is utterly hardhearted and seemingly unreachable.  Siegel’s direction is characteristically good, though screenwriter Reginald Rose creates a liberal-psychotherapeutic vision which is never distracting but a little less than realistic.  Dirty Harry, another Siegel picture, this ain’t.  Harry, however, is asinine.  Crime in the Streets is a decent work, grounded and working on the emotions. . . Siegel’s late 40s and 50s films are often naturalistically finer and more appealing than his later, post-censorship items.

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