Crime in the Streets

Director: Donald Siegel
Screenwriters: Reginald Rose

Institute History

  • 1989 Sundance Film Festival


John Cassavete’s first meaty screen role duplicated the part he’d been playing over and over on TV: everybody’s worst dream of what was called, in those days, a “juvenile delinquent.” When Brando or Dean played a “j.d.,” they laid a thick coat of sensuality over the character that make him likeable, desirable. It was a sentimental vision of the street-what you’d expect from kids growing up in Nebraska (Brando) and Indiana (Dean).

But the street was Cassavetes’s natural habitat, and he played the urban teen hood as he understood him: an exposed nerve, more vicious than tough, with a serrated sensuality that inspired fears instead of fantasies. No one has ever projected the hopelessness of raw street anger on the screen like this before—and few have since. Today we can see that the Cassavetes teen hood was the first punk. The resemblance to Johnny Rotten is uncanny.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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