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A district attorney investigates the racially charged case of three teenagers accused of the murder of a blind Puerto Rican boy. He begins to discover that the facts in the case aren't exactly as they seem to be.Written by
The sixties were John Frankenheimer's heyday:he directed three classics "birdman from Alcatraz" "the Manchurian candidate " and "seconds" ,all unqualified musts for any cinebuff.
"Youngsavages " is at first sight ,a more realist "West Side Story" (the Thunderbirds and the Horsemen replacing the Jets and the Sharks),but hindsight shows that ,in the end ,Frankenheimer's work is not more convincing than Wise's -which has other assets anyway- ,as far as social depiction is concerned.The script promised great things.Which counts in favor of Frankenheimer is his impartiality:he never really sides with one of the groups.Some scenes are impressive :the first meeting Lancaster/victim's mother-but the second one gets in the way-,the murder seen thru glasses -which borrows from Hitchcock's "strangers on a train" though,the pack assaulting a young boy at the pool...The magpie syndrome comes back in the scene when Lancaster's wife is assaulted in the elevator :the same thing happened to Glenn Ford's wife in "blackboard Jungle" .
Some ideas or theories are dubious indeed:because Di Pace (what a name!) has a very high IQ -which is not obvious at all,considering his behavior and his conversation-,he might possibly be less guilty than the others.Ah ... and he is also Lancaster's former sweetheart's offspring !The last confrontation Lancaster/Di Pace is supposed to be an almighty fuss:but anybody past infancy has understood the "knife trick" long before the dialog ends.
"Youngsavages " is not a bad movie ;it's simply politically correct to the core,which the three works I mention above are not.That said ,there are enough surprises,unexpected twist ,and good performances (of course Shelley Winters outshadows Lancaster's bland wife)to sustain interest till the end.
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