City Across the River (1949)

90-91 mins | Drama | May 1949

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Amboy Dukes . The film's opening credits consist of two title cards. A long spoken prologue, in which Washington columnist Drew Pearson addresses the audience while seated at a desk and discusses the film's subject matter, follows. In voice-over, Pearson then introduces the film's main character, "Frankie Cusack," as shots of Frankie's Brooklyn neighborhood are seen. Pearson also appears onscreen at the end of the picture. As Pearson mentions the young performers who played "The Dukes," along with their character names, the camera pans away from him to shots of the actors standing around a movie set. The actors nod or wave at the audience as they are being introduced. Written cast and crew credits follow, and include "The Dukes" actors, without their character names. The order of "The Dukes's" written credits differs from the order of their spoken credits.
       Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: Irving Shulman's novel was based on an actual case in which two young Brooklyn gang members were found guilty of killing a schoolteacher. In Jan 1948, LAT announced that Jack Chertok was set to produce the screen version of Shulman's novel, and Mickey Rooney was a probable star. Universal purchased the novel in May 1948 for producer/writer/director Maxwell Shane. Shane deliberately cast unknowns in the major juvenile roles and auditioned over 200 actors. Peter Fernandez, Al Ramsen and Joshua Shelley made their screen debuts in the picture. Although Tony Curtis (1925--2010) was billed as Anthony Curtis in the onscreen credits, news items about the production listed ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Amboy Dukes . The film's opening credits consist of two title cards. A long spoken prologue, in which Washington columnist Drew Pearson addresses the audience while seated at a desk and discusses the film's subject matter, follows. In voice-over, Pearson then introduces the film's main character, "Frankie Cusack," as shots of Frankie's Brooklyn neighborhood are seen. Pearson also appears onscreen at the end of the picture. As Pearson mentions the young performers who played "The Dukes," along with their character names, the camera pans away from him to shots of the actors standing around a movie set. The actors nod or wave at the audience as they are being introduced. Written cast and crew credits follow, and include "The Dukes" actors, without their character names. The order of "The Dukes's" written credits differs from the order of their spoken credits.
       Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: Irving Shulman's novel was based on an actual case in which two young Brooklyn gang members were found guilty of killing a schoolteacher. In Jan 1948, LAT announced that Jack Chertok was set to produce the screen version of Shulman's novel, and Mickey Rooney was a probable star. Universal purchased the novel in May 1948 for producer/writer/director Maxwell Shane. Shane deliberately cast unknowns in the major juvenile roles and auditioned over 200 actors. Peter Fernandez, Al Ramsen and Joshua Shelley made their screen debuts in the picture. Although Tony Curtis (1925--2010) was billed as Anthony Curtis in the onscreen credits, news items about the production listed him as James Curtis, the name under which he made his screen debut in early 1949. "Mitch" was Curtis' first speaking part. Universal attempted to borrow Dane Clark from Warner Bros. for the role of "Stan Albert," but the actor refused the part and was suspended. Warner Bros.' production head, Jack Warner, also banned Clark's talent agency, the Sam Jaffe Co., from the studio's lot, for its involvement in Clark's refusal. Crane Whitley was announced as a cast member, but his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Location shooting took place in the Williamsburg, Canarsie and Prospect Park sections of Brooklyn, and at Burbank High School in Burbank, CA. In addition, after principal photography had ended, Shane went to Washington, D.C. to film the Drew Pearson sequences. HR announced in late Feb 1949 that discussions regarding a sequel to the story, starring Curtis and produced by Shane, were under way. No sequels were ever shot, however. In Jul 1951, the film was banned in Memphis, TN, by censor Lloyd T. Binford, who complained that the picture had "no lesson in it and no moral." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
May 49
p. 161, 174.
Box Office
5 Mar 1949.
---
Daily Variety
23 Feb 49
p. 3.
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1951.
---
Film Daily
25 Feb 49
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 48
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 48
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 48
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 48
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 48
p. 1, 7
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 48
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 48
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 48
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 49
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 49
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jan 1948.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 May 1949.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Mar 49
p. 4523.
New York Times
3 Oct 1948.
---
New York Times
8 Apr 49
p. 31.
Variety
23 Feb 49
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Grip
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Amboy Dukes by Irving Shulman (New York, 1947).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Amboy Dukes
Release Date:
May 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 7 April 1949
Production Date:
24 September--early November 1948
addl scenes 30 November and 20 December 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
15 March 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2273
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90-91
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13566
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

To celebrate his sixteenth birthday, Frankie Cusack and his young sister Alice abandon their Brooklyn tenement-house and spend a carefree day in Manhattan. As soon as they return home, Frankie seeks out the company of his friends, "The Dukes," a local gang. When hood Gaggsy Steens offers The Dukes five dollars each to rough up a "welcher" named Giotta, Larry, The Dukes's leader, eagerly accepts. Everyone but Frankie participates in beating up the elderly Giotta, and Theodore "Crazy" Perrin happily cuts him with his knife. Later, after Gaggsy pays the boys off outside a community center, Stan Albert, who runs the center, angrily tells Gaggsy to "lay off" the youths. Stan then warns Frankie not to become too involved with The Dukes. Frankie shrugs off the warning and soon after, is chased by a policeman for trying to break open a telephone box. Frankie's father Joe helps Frankie elude the police, and his son's brush with the law prompts him to decide to use his modest savings to make a down payment on a house in a better neighborhood. Frankie proudly takes The Dukes on a tour of his home-to-be, but before the Cusacks can move in, Frankie's hard-working mother Katie comes down with appendicitis. Her hospital stay wipes out the savings account, and the Cusacks are stuck in the slum. Depressed, Frankie instigates a brawl at a pool hall and impresses Larry with his toughness. Frankie's best friend and neighbor, Benny Wilkes, then invites him on a double date, and Frankie is smitten by his date, the sweet-natured Betty. Later, when Frankie and Benny disrupt their manual arts class, the ... +


To celebrate his sixteenth birthday, Frankie Cusack and his young sister Alice abandon their Brooklyn tenement-house and spend a carefree day in Manhattan. As soon as they return home, Frankie seeks out the company of his friends, "The Dukes," a local gang. When hood Gaggsy Steens offers The Dukes five dollars each to rough up a "welcher" named Giotta, Larry, The Dukes's leader, eagerly accepts. Everyone but Frankie participates in beating up the elderly Giotta, and Theodore "Crazy" Perrin happily cuts him with his knife. Later, after Gaggsy pays the boys off outside a community center, Stan Albert, who runs the center, angrily tells Gaggsy to "lay off" the youths. Stan then warns Frankie not to become too involved with The Dukes. Frankie shrugs off the warning and soon after, is chased by a policeman for trying to break open a telephone box. Frankie's father Joe helps Frankie elude the police, and his son's brush with the law prompts him to decide to use his modest savings to make a down payment on a house in a better neighborhood. Frankie proudly takes The Dukes on a tour of his home-to-be, but before the Cusacks can move in, Frankie's hard-working mother Katie comes down with appendicitis. Her hospital stay wipes out the savings account, and the Cusacks are stuck in the slum. Depressed, Frankie instigates a brawl at a pool hall and impresses Larry with his toughness. Frankie's best friend and neighbor, Benny Wilkes, then invites him on a double date, and Frankie is smitten by his date, the sweet-natured Betty. Later, when Frankie and Benny disrupt their manual arts class, the beleagured teacher, Mr. Bannon, brings in the principal, Mr. Hayes. Seeing the class in total chaos, Hayes suspends the students and demands to talk with each of their parents. As Frankie's mother works all day and Benny lives with his brother, the boys do not want to cooperate with Hayes and go to Bannon after school to plead for help. When Bannon, who has had repeated altercations with the boys, refuses to bail them out, Benny slugs him. During the ensuing fight, Benny takes out a gun he made surreptitiously in Bannon's class and accidentally shoots and kills Bannon. Benny and Frankie sneak away from the school, and that night, while they are out driving with Betty and Lucille, Benny's girl friend, Benny tosses the barrel of the gun out of the car. Unknown to Benny, the barrel does not fall into the river, but remains on the edge of the bridge. Later, Frankie and Benny are interrogated by police lieutenant Louie Macon, who has called in all of Bannon's students for questioning. Although the boys supply alibis, Macon is suspicious of them. Aware that Macon is going to check their alibis, Frankie and Benny ask Lucille and Betty to lie for them, and the girls reluctantly do so. Betty's mother, however, forbids her from seeing Frankie again, and Frankie ends up stealing Crazy's date, Annie Kane, one night. When Crazy sees Frankie with Annie, he becomes enraged and threatens Frankie with his knife. Later, Macon orders his men to raid the various gangs to which Bannon's students belong, hoping the cost and inconvience of the arrests will encourage them to talk about Bannon. Macon also questions Benny and Frankie again, and though the boys are tense, they tearfully maintain their innocence. Afterward, a concerned Stan advises Frankie to reveal what he knows. Frankie refuses and then learns that Gaggsy, who is now being sought for killing a policeman, is Stan's brother. Stan warns Frankie that, unless he changes his ways, he will end up like Gaggsy, and soon after, Frankie reads about Gaggsy's violent death at the hands of the police. While The Dukes plan a dance to raise bail money for members jailed during the police raids, the police find Benny's discarded gun barrel and connect it to Bannon. At the dance, Frankie, who along with Benny has been under constant police surveillance, fights with Larry and Mitch, another Duke. Frankie also tangles with an intoxicated Benny, who has become consumed with fear that his friend will implicate him. The spurned Crazy then attacks Annie, who is rescued by Stan and his wife Jean, and a full-scale brawl almost erupts. Outside the dance hall, Frankie sees a newspaper headline about the found gun barrel, calls Macon and anonymously names Benny as Bannon's killer. Macon recognizes Frankie's voice, however, and a panicked Frankie races home, intending to flee the city. Confused by her brother's behavior, Alice impedes his escape and Frankie ends up on his tenement's rooftop. When the police arrive to arrest Benny, Benny also hides on the rooftop. The two boys fight, and during their struggle, Benny falls off the roof to his death. Frankie is arrested for his part in Bannon's death and faces an uncertain future. +

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

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