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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

A still from The Cry Baby Killer (1958)

The Cry Baby Killer

1958 | United States | 70 min
  • Watched on Sunday Mar 14, 2021 via Amazon
    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Jack Nicholson’s debut. He plays a teenager who opens the film laid-low in an alley after his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend’s gang jumps him. After a friend helps him back to his feet, Nicholson confronts the gang at their dive restaurant hangout. A scuffle ensues. One of the gang has a gun. Nicholson grabs the gun. The gang grab for Nicholson. Shots fire.

    Dazed, Nicholson staggers away, gun still in hand. A cop confronts him. Scared, Nicholson retreats into a nearby storage shed, where he holds two people hostage. Police reinforcements arrive. A crowd gathers. The local TV reporter broadcasts from the scene.

    A familiar setup, but the film never feels predictable. The ending proves abrupt, but I didn’t mind. This Roger Corman-produced teen drama won’t pass for a good movie, but it held my interest. In part because it’s barely an hour long. But more so because it’s not clear with whom we’re meant to sympathize. Nicholson seems like a good kid, but he points a gun at an infant. The cops aren’t jerks, but their missteps escalate the situation. That’s a surprising amount of grey for a drive-in picture.

    And Nicholson’s good. Not great, but convincing in the role.

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