Directed by John Frankenheimer
USA 19
61

 

Based on the novel A Matter of Conviction by Evan Hunter, The Young Savages (1961) was the first collaboration between director John Frankenheimer and actor Burt Lancaster (they would go on to make four more films together including Birdman of Alcatraz, 1962). Like other powerful social dramas of the late fifties/early sixties (12 Angry Men (1957), the TV series, East Side, West Side), The Young Savages addressed issues which undoubtedly appealed to the liberal Democrat in Frankenheimer and Lancaster yet the film was not a labor of love. "What had happened," according to the director (in Frankenheimer: A Conversation), "was that the production company of Hecht-Hill-Lancaster had got itself deeply into debt they'd had to agree to do four very inexpensive pictures, with Burt Lancaster getting $150,000 instead of his usual price of $750,000. He'd just come off Elmer Gantry [1960], and the last thing on earth he wanted to do was this movie."

[...]

Seen today, The Young Savages is still relevant though Pauline Kael's assessment of it in 5001 Nights at the Movies nails the film's main weakness: "You're awfully conscious that the picture means to be hard-hitting; it sometimes succeeds, but a lot of it is just worthy." Still, many things from the movie continue to linger after it's over - the startling opening sequence, the gritty urban setting, the music score by David Amram and John Davis Chandler's chilling screen presence (he plays gang leader Arthur Reardon). He may have been a victim of typecasting but his gallery of psychotic villains have enlivened many films from his scene-chewing role as Mad Dog Coll (1961) to Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country (1962) to his homicidal drug dealer in The Hooked Generation (1968).

Excerpt from Turner Classic Movies located HERE

 

Three teenage Italian gang members murder a blind Puerto Rican boy on the tense streets of East Harlem - and the district attorney who must prosecute them (Lancaster) is from the same tough background. Frankenheimer's ghetto drama is a little too keen to use gang violence to set pulses racing in the audience to remain as decent and earnest as it wants to be. But Frankenheimer is good at brutality, especially in black and white - and as this kind of material had already been turned into a smash-hit Broadway musical, he wasn't going to offend anybody if he slyly encouraged punters to enjoy the violence.

Excerpt from Channel 4 located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: May 24th, 1961

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DVD Review: MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

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At present The Young Savages is only available in The John Frankenheimer Collection along with The Manchurian Candidate / The Train / and Ronin.
Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:42:32 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.75 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) , DUBs: French and Spanish
Subtitles English, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: MGM Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: January 22nd, 2008

Slim Keep Case
Chapters: 20

 

Comments:

Single-layered but competent transfer from MGM. The aggravating part is that at present The Young Savages is only available in The John Frankenheimer Collection along with The Manchurian Candidate / The Train / and Ronin. Fans of Frankenhemier will probably have 2 or 3 of those titles already. MGM is terrible for this type of customer manipulation. It probably won't become available individually anytime soon.

The anamorphic and progressive DVD image looks fairly strong - acceptable detail and contrast with no untoward manipulations. The print used was clean and only some minor speckles infest the healthy image. Audio is clean and clear with two DUBs option and subtitles if desired.

There are no extras at all and the film is only good... but not great. Interesting to see Lancaster and Winters with Frankenheimer showing some unique camera angles and artsy touches. Worth a spin but only if you want the other titles in the package too (all very good films, by the way). 

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

At present The Young Savages is only available in The John Frankenheimer Collection along with The Manchurian Candidate / The Train / and Ronin.




 

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