This is director John Frankenheimer second film and first with legendary actor Burt Lancaster. The cinematography is gorgeous. Many shots are layered and the mise-en-scene is dramatic with objects and faces frozen in the foreground and action happening in the background. The film deals with social issues in a way that only a '60s movie can do. The decade really opened filmmakers up to explore human nature more freely and with less restriction as the Code's reign was nearing it's demise. I place The Young Savages at the upper-echelon of superb dramatic movies! (Please read the excellent article on TCM's website about the film. Lots of great trivia and facts to be found there!)
I'm a bit torn about how the Puerto Ricans are represented in this film and find myself more ambivalent than offended. At first, the blind Puerto Rican boy is the epitome of innocence. His family, friends and neighbors all seem angelic in their mourning. However, as the story progresses the separation balance of evil on both sides changes with the Italians looking better and the Puerto Ricans looking worse and worse. We initially hate those three Italian boys but then we pity them. I'm not sure if this story would have worked in reverse with three Puerto Rican teens killing a blind Italian boy or if Bell would have been Puerto Rican, and in that case we wouldn't have had the wonderful Burt Lancaster in the starring role. This is such a great film than I really don't want to think to think ill of it but really in the end the representation of Latinos in this film can be considered poor at best. If you have any thoughts on these, please share!
Level of Brown Face ~ 0 out of 5 shades. 100% real Hispanic actors. Woot!
TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Tuesday May 19th
The Lawless (1950)
Cry Tough (1959)
The Young Savages (1961)
Blackboard Jungle (1955)