23 July 2017 | Hey_Sweden
"What stage does a wayward boy turn into a delinquent?"
Simply told, unsentimental tale inspired by the book, and real-life story, of Caryl Chessman. Having seen his father unable to cope with poverty, he grows up into a sneering punk, defiant of all authority. The incorrigible boy soon becomes a career criminal, spending time in and out of prison. Then he is accused of a series of "red light" sex crimes, and earns the death penalty for two of them. He then spends his time on death row reading up on the law, and trying to put off the inevitable with his various appeals.
This is a good B level treatment of this story which benefits from not really trying to make Whit Whittier (as he is named in the movie) sympathetic. Rather, it doesn't shy away from the utter ruthlessness and brazenness of his crimes. The point of the story is, did he in fact commit these sex crimes of which he was accused? And did he not have a right to exhaust every legal avenue available to him?
Actor William Campbell, a veteran of both A and B features, does well in this starring vehicle, displaying some charisma and screen presence. His real life younger brother R. Wright Campbell (who, in the subsequent years, embarked upon a successful career as a screenwriter) plays Whit as a younger man. The cast is quite good, overall: Marian Carr, the luscious Kathryn Grant, Harvey Stephens, Vince Edwards, Bart Braverman, Paul Dubov, Buck Kartalian, and others.
The short running time (77 minutes) gives evidence to storytelling (screenplay by Jack DeWitt, direction by Fred F. Sears) that is efficient and to the point. There are some good action scenes, and the atmosphere is potent.
Chessmans' tale was ongoing at the time of the movies' release, although his luck would finally run out several years later. Alan Alda later played the character in a 1977 TV movie, 'Kill Me if You Can'.
Seven out of 10.