Cry Tough (1959)

Cry Tough (1959)

“We Puerto Ricans have only two choices: to make it the smooth, hard way like our immigrant fathers, or to break out fast to the point of a gun.”

After spending a year in the slammer, second-generation Puerto Rican Miguel Estrada (John Saxon) tries to go straight, but finds himself pulled back into a life of crime in New York.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ex-Cons
  • Gangsters
  • John Saxon Films
  • New York City
  • Puerto Ricans

This screen adaptation of Irving Shulman’s 1949 novel fails to deliver on its most basic premise: authentically portraying Puerto Rican culture in New York. While the film starts out strong, the plot quickly takes one predictable turn after the other, with Saxon ultimately being destroyed by his primary vice (women). Saxon is hunky eye candy (a la young Brando), but otherwise utterly unconvincing as a Puerto Rican; his female co-star (Linda Cristal) fares much better as the Cuban femme fatale for whom he throws away his tenuous freedom.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • One of the first cinematic depictions of Puerto Ricans in New York

Must See?
No. While it starts out strong, this film ultimately devolves into a predictable crime drama, and is not must-see viewing.


One thought on “Cry Tough (1959)

  1. First viewing. In complete agreement here; this is ultimately tiresome.

    While apparently the first ‘significant’ film about Puerto Ricans, it is directed with only mild competence, filled with cliches and mucho trite (occasionally laughable) dialogue, and contains a cast of characters dominated by opportunists and criminals.

    Nothing like starting a minority off in film with a sinister view, I always say.

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