A Blast From The Past: Gang Boy (dir by Arthur Swerdlow)

In this 1954 short film, two rival gangs are fighting.  They both come from the same neighborhood.  The members of both gangs grew up poor.  All of them feel like there’s no hope for them.  They’re all angry and sad and fatalistic.  In fact, there’s only one difference between the two gangs.  One gang is made up of white kids and the other gang is made up of Mexicans.  That’s the only reason the two gangs fight.

The leader of the Mexican gang knows that things have got to change.  While looking over the quarry where, years ago, his younger brother died while trying to be as tough as him, the leader of the gang remembers the early days of the gang and how what started out as a place for outsiders to feel like they belonged soon became something violent and destructive.  The community wants to have a dance but the threat of violence is in the air.  Can he defuse the situation?  Maybe that friendly detective could help….

Gang Boy is a Sid Davis production, a look at how poverty and prejudice were fueling the rise in gang violence in the 50s.  Unusually, for a Sid Davis film, it’s remarkably nonjudgmental.  There is, of course, all the “you’ve ruined your life” melodrama that one would usually expect from Davis but the final blame is put more on society than the members of the gang.

Speaking of the members of the gang, the cast of this film was apparently made up of actual gang members who all hated each other.  The film may end with the promise of a better tomorrow but it’s hard to avoid the feeling that a fight broke out as soon as the camera stopped rolling,

Personally, I think of this as being a prequel to West Side Story.  Before the Sharks and the Jets learned how to dance, there was …. GANG BOY!

Retro Television Review: One World 1.3 “Marci’s Job” and 1.4 “The Gift”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Fridays, I will be reviewing One World, which ran on NBC from 1998 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

The Cast of One World

One world …. we’re living in one world….

Today, we rejoin Miami’s favorite foster family, the Blakes!  How are they adjusting to Jane and, more importantly, how is Jane adjusting to them?  Does she still consider them to be “The Brady Bunch?”  Let’s find out!

Episode 1.3 “Marci’s Job”

(Directed by Chuck Vinson, originally aired on September 26th, 1998)

The Warehouse — which, you may remember from last week, is apparently Miami’s hottest under-21 club — needs a new manager!  Marci applies for the job and is hired but then she hears rumors that she may have just been hired because she’s Cuban and the owner needed to fill a quota.  Marci is outraged.  “Did you hire me because I’m Cuban, Hispanic, Latina!?” she demands of the manager.  “I don’t want a job because of my race!”

The audience applauds as Marci walks out.

Later, Ben asks Marci why she’s so upset.  Marci replies, “He only gave me the job because of my race!  That’s discrimination!”

Yes, this episode is definitely from 1998.

In the B-plot, Jane and Neal become convinced that Cray stole a pair of sneakers so they attempt to return them to the mall.  Unfortunately, they get caught by mall security and end up getting tossed into the “mall jail.”  Karen Blake — oh my God, her name is literally Karen — goes down to the mall to bail out her foster children.  “I am a soccer mom!” she proudly declares as she demands to see the mall’s manager.  The audience goes wild.

Again, this episode is definitely from 1998.

The important thing is that everything works out in the end.  Cray explains that he didn’t steal the shoes.  Instead, he just bought them from some weirdo on the school playground.  Meanwhile, Marci goes back to the Warehouse and is told that she wasn’t hired because of her race.  She was hired for her “spunk and attitude.”

The audience applauds.  Everything works out when you’re living in one world.

Episode 1.4 “The Gift”

(Directed by Chuck Vinson, originally aired on October 3rd, 1998)

It’s Dave’s 45th birthday!  While the other kids attempt to build him a home entertainment center, Jane decides to show her appreciation by stealing an expensive watch.  When I was a teenager, I used to shoplift for birthdays as well but that just meant that my friends got used to receiving purple eyeshadow on their special day.

Anyway, Jane realizes that Dave wouldn’t want her to break the law so she writes him a letter explaining what happened.  Dave says that the letter is the best birthday present he’s ever gotten.  And you know what?  It may sound silly but it’s actually kind of a sweet moment and it was well-acted by Aaroyn Lloyd and Michael Toland.  As far as I’m concerned, that makes this episode a success.

Live Tweet Alert: Join #FridayNightFlix for The Principal!

As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, at 10 pm et, I will be hosting #FridayNightFlix!  The movie?  1987’s The Principal!

This film features Jim Belushi in his greatest role, high school school principal Rick Lattimore!  Rick rides a motorcycle, introduces his students to the concept of “No more!,” and teaches a kid to read!  He extends a hand to drug dealer Victor Duncan.  When Victor threatens to cut Rick’s hand off, Rick replies that he’s got another!  “He’s the principal, man!”  Of course, it all leads to a big afterschool fight.  You don’t become the principal if you don’t know how to throw a punch or two!

If you want to join us this Friday, just hop onto twitter, start the movie at 10 pm et, and use the #FridayNightFlix hashtag!  I’ll be there tweeting and I imagine some other members of the TSL Crew will be there as well.  It’s a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.

See you there!

Music Video of the Day: Don’t Change by INXS (1982, directed by Scott Hicks)

Today’s music video of the day is for INXS’s Don’t Change, from their third album, Shabooh Shoobah.  Though INXS had been around for a while and had released two previous albums before releasing Shabooh Shoobah, Don’t Change is often described as the song that introduced the band to the world outside of Australia.

The song’s video was originally envisioned as featuring the band performing on airport runway.  However, due a bad weather, the band was instead forced to film and perform the song in a nearby hangar.  The video was directed by Scott Hicks, who would later go on to direct Geoffrey Rush to his first Oscar in 1996’s Shine.