The Young Savages
The Young Savages is what used to be called a "thinking man's picture" about a potentially lurid subject: urban juvenile delinquency. A blind Puerto Rican boy is knifed to death in Spanish Harlem, and three teenage gang members are accused of the crime. Politically ambitious assistant DA Burt Lancaster initially presses for the conviction of all three boys. But as he gets deeper into the case, he realizes that what appears cut-and-dried on the surface is tortuously complex: for starters, the murder victim was hardly the paragon of virtue that the prosecution claims. Despite pressure from his superiors and from members of the accused boys' gang (who at one point threaten Lancaster's wife Dina Merrill with a switchblade,) Lancaster nonetheless sees to it that justice is properly administered. The defendants are portrayed with varying degrees of Brando/Dean "method" by John Davis Chandler, Neil Nephew and Stanley Kristien; more believable, less affected performances are rendered by Shelley Winters, Pilar Seurat and Telly Savalas. Filmed on location in New York, The Young Savages was based on the Evan Hunter novel A Matter of Conviction.