Crime in the Streets (1956): Don Siegel’s Juvenile Delinquency Melodrama,

Don Siegel directed Crime in the Streets a tale of juvenile delinquency, based on TV play written by Reginald Rose.

Crime in the Streets
Crime in the Streets poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

The play first appeared on the Elgin Hour and was directed by Sidney Lumet, who would make a splashy screen debut the following year in 12 Angry Men.

Starring James Whitmore and John Cassavetes, the film also featured actor Sal Mineo, who had previously appeared in Rebel Without A Cause.  After this role, Mineo earned a Hollywood nickname, “The Switchblade Kid.”

Malcolm Atterbury, Virginia Gregg and future director Mark Rydell had prominent roles.

Siegel adapted the play to a film by expanding some sequences but keeping much of the same cast.

His credited dialogue coach on the film was Sam Peckinpah, who would also become a major director.

After a rumble between New York City street gangs, the Hornets and Dukes, a youth is taken captive and threatened with a zip gun by Lenny Daniels, one of the Hornets.

The act is witnessed by a neighbor, McAllister, who tells the cops.

Lenny is arrested and sentenced to a year in jail. Hornets leader Frankie Dane decides to get even. Seemingly incorrigible, 18-year-old Frankie resists all efforts to get through to him by social worker Ben Wagner or his worried mother, who was abandoned by Frankie’s father when he was eight.

Frankie threatens McAllister, who isn’t afraid of Frankie. McAllister even slaps him, then walks away. An angry Frankie then enlists friends Lou Macklin and Angelo “Baby” Gioia to assist in killing McAllister, which frightens Frankie’s 10-year-old brother Richie, who overhears the plotting.

Baby is slapped by his father who begs him to stop hanging out with the no-good Frankie.

Wagner makes an effort to understand the boys rather than be angry with them, and Richie tells him of Frankie’s plans to commit a murder.

The three conspirators go to bed (for alibi) and wait until it’s time to act. McAllister is trapped in an alley by the three. Richie stops his brother just-in-time, but ends up with a knife held to his throat by Frankie, while McAllister and other two run off, as the intended victim yells for help.

Wagner appears due to the commotion, watching Frankie finally regain his senses, who lets his brother go.

In the end, he is then accompanied by Wagner to the approaching police.

Warner released the film on DVD on July 13, 2010, in its Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 5

James Whitmore as Ben Wagner
John Cassavetes as Frankie Dane
Sal Mineo as Angelo “Baby” Gioia
Virginia Gregg as Mrs. Dane
Malcolm Atterbury as McAllister
Mark Rydell as Lou Macklin
Denise Alexander as Maria Gioia


Directed by Don Siegel
Produced by Vincent M. Fennelly
Written by Reginald Rose
Starring James Whitmore
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Sam Leavitt
Distributed by Allied Artists

Release date: June 10, 1956

Running time: 91 minutes
Box office $1.2 million


TCM showed this movie on June 17, 2021.