Out of Irving Shulman’s grim novel, The Amboy Dukes, Maxwell Shane has whipped together a hardhitting and honest film on juvenile delinquency.
This pic has the bite of reality and the tension of a meller. Dramatically documenting how the slums spawn crime, it’s a postwar edition of Dead End shaped by all the layers of brutality and violence intervening between 1937 and 1949.
Against backdrops of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the film succeeds in recreating the feel and flavor of the city’s streets and back-alleys.
The plot threads are smoothly woven into the social fabric. After Fernandez and a gang pal kill their school teacher, the world falls apart for the kids. The cops close in, and the other gang members are put on the spot.
The performances by all members of the cast are marked by Shane’s accent on naturalness.