The Young Savages (1961) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Young Savages (1961)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The Young Savages is what used to be called a "thinking man's picture" about a potentially lurid subject: urban juvenile delinquency. A blind Puerto Rican boy is knifed to death in Spanish Harlem, and three teenage gang members are accused of the crime. Politically ambitious assistant DA Burt Lancaster initially presses for the conviction of all three boys. But as he gets deeper into the case, he realizes that what appears cut-and-dried on the surface is tortuously complex: for starters, the murder victim was hardly the paragon of virtue that the prosecution claims. Despite pressure from his superiors and from members of the accused boys' gang (who at one point threaten Lancaster's wife Dina Merrill with a switchblade,) Lancaster nonetheless sees to it that justice is properly administered. The defendants are portrayed with varying degrees of Brando/Dean "method" by John Davis Chandler, Neil Nephew and Stanley Kristien; more believable, less affected performances are rendered by Shelley Winters, Pilar Seurat and Telly Savalas. Filmed on location in New York, The Young Savages was based on the Evan Hunter novel A Matter of Conviction. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Burt Lancaster
as Hank Bell
Dina Merrill
as Karin Bell
Shelley Winters
as Mary diPace
Edward Andrews
as R. Daniel Cole
Telly Savalas
as Detective Lt. Gunderson
Vivian Nathan
as Mrs. Escalante
Larry Gates
as Randolph
Pilar Seurat
as Louisa Escalante
Jody Fair
as Angela Rugiello
Roberta Shore
as Jenny Bell
Stanley Kristien
as Danny di Pace
John Davis Chandler
as Arthur Reardon
Neil Nephew
as Anthony Aposto
Jose Perez
as Roberto Escalante
Richard Velez
as Gargantua
Chris Robinson
as Pretty Boy
Stanley Adams
as Lt. Hardy
Bill Quinn
as Capt. Larsen
Linda Danzil
as Maria Amora
Jon Carlo
as McNally
Bob Biheller
as Turtleneck
Helen Kleeb
as Mrs. Patton
Thom Conroy
as Mr. Abbeney
John Walsh
as Lonnie
John Walsh
as Lonnie
Irving Steinberg
as Officer Wohlman
Clegg Hoyt
as Whitey
Joel Fluellen
as Clerk of the Court
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Critic Reviews for The Young Savages

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (1)

This chaotic mass of truisms has reduced its director to what one can only assume is severe anxiety state.

February 11, 2020 | Full Review…

...squanders a predictably solid Lancaster performance to a progressively distressing degree.

June 25, 2021 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

More than just "West Side Story" without the singing...a flinty, gritty courtroom drama dressed up as a street gang murder thriller.

May 8, 2021 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Strikingly crafted, "The Young Savages" manages to overcome its fatiguing length to isolate raw emotions, led by strong work from star Burt Lancaster.

September 21, 2020 | Rating: B | Full Review…

quaint to the point of incoherence and inconsequence

March 24, 2009 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

It's a West Side Story without the romance and music.

January 2, 2003 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Young Savages


A murder in Harlem sets off the action here in this introspective about life in the urban setting, circa 1960. Often badly compared to West Side Story (w/o the music and dancing) I believe that this one is actually superior. In point of fact I resisted this for about 45 minutes, taking it to be yet another propaganda piece from those times about how society is "handling" the youths problem. There are certainly elements of that type of propaganda included, but good writing, directing, acting, the whole kit and kaboodle, overcome genre stereotypes to produce lively commentary worthy of your time.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Frankenhiemers' early film, The Young Savages, is a film I found underrated. The film opens with a gang, that look like they're straight out of West Side Story, attacking a young blind boy. A conservative prosecutor is assigned to the case, who has a closer connection than what meets the eye. What I found fascinating about this film, which was released in 1961, is how out dated it was. How is this a good thing? The film brought me back into the world of the 1960s, the traditionalism, the things that would be brushed off now were scandals in this town. I'm not a golden age person, but I did feel that I went into a time machine. The film doesn't only focus on the case, but the racial tensions surrounding it. Burt Lancaster stars in this film, and had a solid performances. The savages depicted weren't great actors, but they passed. The film did have scenes that I felt were dispensable , like the train and elevator scenes, which don't contribute to the story. I was hooked on the story line though, and despite the cheesiness, I was paying full attention to the faith of the boys.

Daniel Dolgin
Daniel Dolgin

Super Reviewer

Hollywood depiction of juvenile delinquency in the tradition of Blackboard Jungle and West Side Story. Dramatic and entertaining but decidedly unrealistic.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

The Young Savages Quotes

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