“Look, he’s a bad, weak kid!”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
He notes that “it’s hard not to be on Bogart’s side, especially since the DA is a corrupt, vicious man with an ugly scar, played with extreme villainy by George Macready”:
— but “it’s weird seeing this socially conscious lawyer browbeat some of the indigent witnesses”, and “Derek’s character [Nick Romano], whose motto is ‘live fast, die young, and have a good-looking corpse’:
is too unpleasant to be used as an example by Bogart (or Ray) to arouse sympathy for real-life juveniles who are trapped by poverty and bad reputations into committing crimes.”
I’m in agreement with Peary’s assessment of this well-meaning flick, which nonetheless misses the mark in several key ways. Bogart’s character isn’t really solidified: all we know is that he came from a rough background himself and is being pressured by a couple of beautiful women to take Derek’s case — against the wishes of his firm.
Meanwhile, “pretty boy” Derek’s background and challenges don’t seem particularly noteworthy — though I suppose that’s the point; as Bogart’s character intones near the end:
Speaking of the ending, I’m not a fan of the surprise twist — but I won’t say more at risk of spoiling. On the plus side, Burnett Guffey’s cinematography is solidly atmospheric throughout; Macready’s supporting performance is notable (check out his scar stroking); and Allene Roberts is sweet and sympathetic as Derek’s young wife.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: