Don Siegel's Crime in the Streets was adapted for the screen by Reginald Rose, who'd originally written it for a presentation of The Elgin Hour on television in 1955. John Cassavetes, Mark Rydell, and Will Kuluva played the same roles in the small-screen version -- which was directed by Sidney Lumet and featured Glenda Farrell as Mrs. Dane, a young Van Dyke Parks as Richie, Ivan Cury as "Baby," and Robert Preston as Ben Wagner. The feature-film script feels padded out a bit, though Siegel does his best to keep the camera moving and the images -- most of them violent -- flowing out at a good clip, so that visually it's never dull. In the end, he, cinematographer Sam Leavitt, editor Richard Meyer, and composer Franz Waxman (working a surprisingly raw, modernistic mode, not far removed from what Leonard Bernstein did in On the Waterfront) make almost more of this than Rose's script will carry. The performances by Cassavetes and company are still fascinating to watch, even if the script and the sensibilities behind it have dated somewhat in the ensuing half century, and Siegel's overall handling of the material makes it one of the better and more enduring dramas about urban delinquency, as he underplays the script's preachiness in favor of some more enduring images and conflicts contained within its structure. The trick for modern viewers may be to find an intact version of the movie -- the 2006 theatrical showing at New York's Film Forum, in its Don Siegel retrospective, utilized a worn if serviceable TV print.
by Bruce Eder review