Cry Tough (1959)

83-84 mins | Drama | August 1959

Director:

Paul Stanley

Writer:

Harry Kleiner

Producer:

Harry Kleiner

Cinematographers:

Philip Lathrop, Irving Glassberg

Production Designer:

Edward Carrere

Production Companies:

Canon Productions, Hecht-Hill-Lancaster
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HISTORY

An onscreen narrative reads: "In the heart of New York City, there is a steaming jungle of tenements inhabited by America's newest wave of immigrants, the Puerto Ricans. Surrounded by the great city, they are isolated within it. They call their little world the Barrio , the Spanish word for 'district.'" According to information in the MPAA/PCA file on the film in the AMPAS Library, Irving Shulman's novel was originally to have been produced by Mort Briskin for Morjay Productions, Inc., and released by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. Hecht-Hill-Lancaster bought the story from Irving Shulman in 1955. Canon Productions and Anne Productions, Inc., the film's copyright claimant, appear to be companies set up by Hecht-Hill-Lancaster specifically for this production.
       A 1958 news item in DV stated that producer-writer Harry Kleiner completely revamped Shulman's "mid-depression novel about a Jewish family in Brooklyn." According to a 12 Oct 1958 article in LAEx , Kleiner spent two weeks in Spanish Harlem interviewing hundreds of locals on all aspects of life there. A HR casting note indicates that Brad Dexter was in negotiations for a starring role. The producers borrowed John Saxon and Linda Cristal from Universal for the film. Although the Var review noted that Cry Tough marked the screen's first attempt at depicting "second generation Puerto Ricans in Manhattan," most reviewers complained about the film's lack of realism. Cry Tough was television director Paul Stanley's first effort at theatrical filmmaking. The film also marked the first of two films made by producer Harry Kleiner under his Canon Productions ... More Less

An onscreen narrative reads: "In the heart of New York City, there is a steaming jungle of tenements inhabited by America's newest wave of immigrants, the Puerto Ricans. Surrounded by the great city, they are isolated within it. They call their little world the Barrio , the Spanish word for 'district.'" According to information in the MPAA/PCA file on the film in the AMPAS Library, Irving Shulman's novel was originally to have been produced by Mort Briskin for Morjay Productions, Inc., and released by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. Hecht-Hill-Lancaster bought the story from Irving Shulman in 1955. Canon Productions and Anne Productions, Inc., the film's copyright claimant, appear to be companies set up by Hecht-Hill-Lancaster specifically for this production.
       A 1958 news item in DV stated that producer-writer Harry Kleiner completely revamped Shulman's "mid-depression novel about a Jewish family in Brooklyn." According to a 12 Oct 1958 article in LAEx , Kleiner spent two weeks in Spanish Harlem interviewing hundreds of locals on all aspects of life there. A HR casting note indicates that Brad Dexter was in negotiations for a starring role. The producers borrowed John Saxon and Linda Cristal from Universal for the film. Although the Var review noted that Cry Tough marked the screen's first attempt at depicting "second generation Puerto Ricans in Manhattan," most reviewers complained about the film's lack of realism. Cry Tough was television director Paul Stanley's first effort at theatrical filmmaking. The film also marked the first of two films made by producer Harry Kleiner under his Canon Productions banner. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Aug 1959.
---
Daily Variety
28 Jul 59
p. 3.
Film Daily
31 Jul 59
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
1 Aug 59
pp. 122-23.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 58
p. 2, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 58
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 59
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
12 Oct 58
p. 1, 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Aug 59
p. 356.
New York Times
17 Sep 59
p. 48.
The Exhibitor
29 Jul 59
p. 4611.
Variety
29 Jul 59
p. 6.
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1959
Production Date:
5 September--late September 1958 at Universal-International Studios and M-G-M Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Anne Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 August 1959
Copyright Number:
LP15205
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
83-84
Length(in feet):
7,500
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19169
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Miguel Estrada returns home to his Spanish Harlem tenement after serving a one-year prison sentence for assisting some racketeers in the commission of a crime. On the way to his family's apartment, Miguel visits his friends in the Carlos Mendoza mob, not to take up his old position in the gang, but rather, as he tells them, to celebrate old times. Refusing to believe that Miguel really wants to go straight, Mendoza argues that the first generation of Puerto Ricans born in the "land of the big dollar" can either make it "the slow, hard way," or "break out fast at the point of a gun." With Miguel's intelligence and loyalty, Mendoza argues, the gang could crush the rival mob of "Boss" Juan Cortez, a crooked politician, and take control of the barrio . Miguel adamantly rejects Mendoza's offer and then, somewhat apprehensively, goes home, where his family is celebrating the birth of his uncle Alberto Estrada's seventh child. Just before Miguel appears at the door, his father, whom everyone calls "Papa," tells the young man's mother and sister Tina that Miguel has disgraced the family name. Everyone except Papa is happy to see him, but the old man grudgingly allows him to enter. Although he is glad to be with his family, Miguel wants desperately to get them out of the "rat trap" they share. His father assures him that his children will escape the barrio , but Miguel, who notes that the Irish, Jews and Italians "busted out before us," is impatient for a better life for both his own and his father's generation. ... +


Miguel Estrada returns home to his Spanish Harlem tenement after serving a one-year prison sentence for assisting some racketeers in the commission of a crime. On the way to his family's apartment, Miguel visits his friends in the Carlos Mendoza mob, not to take up his old position in the gang, but rather, as he tells them, to celebrate old times. Refusing to believe that Miguel really wants to go straight, Mendoza argues that the first generation of Puerto Ricans born in the "land of the big dollar" can either make it "the slow, hard way," or "break out fast at the point of a gun." With Miguel's intelligence and loyalty, Mendoza argues, the gang could crush the rival mob of "Boss" Juan Cortez, a crooked politician, and take control of the barrio . Miguel adamantly rejects Mendoza's offer and then, somewhat apprehensively, goes home, where his family is celebrating the birth of his uncle Alberto Estrada's seventh child. Just before Miguel appears at the door, his father, whom everyone calls "Papa," tells the young man's mother and sister Tina that Miguel has disgraced the family name. Everyone except Papa is happy to see him, but the old man grudgingly allows him to enter. Although he is glad to be with his family, Miguel wants desperately to get them out of the "rat trap" they share. His father assures him that his children will escape the barrio , but Miguel, who notes that the Irish, Jews and Italians "busted out before us," is impatient for a better life for both his own and his father's generation. The next morning, Miguel returns to his old job at a laundry establishment owned by Cortez, who secretly uses the business as a front for his illegal activities. At work, Tina's young sweetheart Emilio asks for Miguel's benedición , or blessing, on their planned marriage, hinting that he has amassed money illegally. When the laundry boilers suddenly explode, Miguel realizes that Mendoza has paid Emilio to jam the valves and boldly orders the gangster to "lay off Emilio." Later, as he is leaving Mendoza's nightclub, he is mesmerized by one of its "hostesses," the beautiful Sarita, and agrees to meet her after work. That night, Mendoza's men trick Miguel into committing a robbery, but he thwarts their plans. In retaliation, they beat him. Miguel staggers up to Sarita's room, where he remains for the next ten days. Having fallen in love with Sarita, he proposes to her, but she insists that marriage would tie her down. When an immigration officer appears downstairs to arrest her, Sarita admits that she is an illegal immigrant from Cuba. Following her arrest, Miguel asks Mendoza to arrange for her release. Sarita then marries Miguel and moves in with his family, while Miguel, eager to give his new wife everything she desires, asks Cortez for a raise. Cortez refuses this request but offers the young man twice his current salary to maintain the laundry's dangerous machinery. Miguel accepts and returns home, only to find that Sarita has left him. Furious, Miguel offers to work for Mendoza if the crook finds Sarita for him. Mendoza orders Miguel to lead his men, including Emilio, in a robbery, and during the heist, the police arrive, forcing the robbers to hide in the cellar. Toro, a Mendoza thug who has always been jealous of Miguel, threatens his rival with a knife, and during the fight, Miguel kills him. Later, in the penthouse apartment Miguel has rented with the stolen money, Mendoza arrives with Sarita, and when she angrily declares that she has to be free, he locks her in the bedroom. The police question Miguel about Toro's death, but he remains silent, even when they threaten to question Emilio, who at that moment is buying a wedding dress with Tina. Seeing the police, Emilio panics and races in front of a car to his death. At the boy's funeral, Tina blames Miguel for the loss of her fiancé, and Papa publicly disowns his wayward son. Half crazed by guilt and frustration, Miguel decides to rob the Cortez laundry, a plan Mendoza labels as suicidal. Before the robbery, Sarita tearfully apologizes to her husband, but he declares that he no longer has feelings for her. The daring robbery proceeds as planned until Papa arrives for work and pulls the burglar alarm. Miguel escapes the subsequent shootout, but because he has botched the job, Mendoza's men decide to kill him. Two of the thugs chase him across a rooftop, and when he tries to leap to another building, he falls. Papa and Sarita, kneeling over Miguel's broken body, blame themselves for his misfortune, but just before he dies, he absolves them of guilt and receives his father's cherished blessing. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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