The Young Don't Cry
Cast & Crew
Alfred L. Werker
J. Carrol Naish
As the inmates of the Brockton Orphanage for Boys prepare for their August vacation, Leslie Henderson, a sensitive adolescent who has spent the year building a boat to sail to a desolated island nearby, invites little Allan to join him when the younger boy's vacation plans fall through. When Tom Bradley, one of the older boys, taunts Allan about his childish behavior, Les comes to his defense and a fight ensues. As a result, Mr. Gwinn, the supervisor of the orphanage, subtracts a week from Les's vacation and forbids Allan to accompany him. When Allan sobs in disappointment, Les tries to comfort the boy by promising him that tomorrow will be a better day. Afterward, Johnny Clancy, a scheming elder classman, chides Les for risking his own happiness to defend Allan. Clancy, who idolizes Max Cole, a former classmate who has become a successful businessman, points to Max's success and advises Les that he needs to "step over people" to achieve his own goals. One day, while roaming the swamps surrounding the orphanage, Les stops for a drink of water by the prison work gang overseen by Whittaker, a prison supervisor. There, Les tells Rudy Krist, a convict who earlier saved the boy's life by killing a deadly rattlesnake, about his boat. After Les leaves, Doosy, a weary, older convict, guesses that Rudy plans to steal the boat and sail to freedom. To achieve his escape, Rudy must be made a trustee, and soon, Plug, the brutal prison warden, promotes him to that position, threatening Rudy with death if he tries to escape. One day, Max arrives at the orphanage driving a shiny new Cadillac and accompanied by his attractive wife Maureen. When Clancy, who has been offered a job in Max's company, introduces him to Les, Max warns the idealistic Les to be wary because everyone is "out to get him." The next day, Max comes to see Les's boat, and when Max belittles both the boy and his craft, Maureen becomes upset at her husband's callousness. Later, when Les returns to the work gang to deliver some vegetables to Whittaker, Rudy pumps him for more information about his boat. Meanwhile, at the orphanage, Bradley begs Max for money to set up a small store in which to sell the driftwood figures he has made, and when Max humiliates Bradley, Maureen upbraids her husband. Afterward, Max, who has discovered that Clancy had been lying to him about his grades in order to wheedle a job in his company, rescinds his offer. Back at the prison camp, Rudy obtains Plug's permission to capture some rattlesnakes, but once he catches a reptile, Rudy turns it loose. When Whittaker raises his rifle to shoot it, Rudy smashes him in the head with a bucket and flees. To help his friend escape, Doosy acts as a decoy to fool the guards by running in the opposite direction. As the guards and their man-hunting dogs pursue the escaped convicts, Plug drives to the orphanage to warn Gwinn to keep the boys inside. Bradley, believing that he can prove his mettle to Max by capturing the convicts, takes off into the woods. Fearing for Bradley's safety, Max sets out with Les and Gwinn to find the boy. In the swamp, meanwhile, the police see Bradley's fleeting figure and set the dogs on him. After a dog kills Bradley, the police track Doosy to a shack owned by Philomena, a kindly recluse who has taken an interest in the orphans, and there they kill him. Hearing of Doosy's death, Les runs to Philomena's and tearfully watches as she buries his body. The next morning, as Les readies his boat for his voyage, Rudy jumps out of the woods, takes him prisoner and announces his plans to escape in the boat that night. Overwhelmed by the injustice and cruelty he has experienced, Les begins to rant about Max and "the other tough guys." After dark falls, Les and Rudy pull the boat over the marsh as Plug and his men lay in wait, determined to kill Rudy. As Rudy voices his obsession with "beating Plug," Plug spots the boat and fires, hitting Rudy, who falls overboard to his death. Upon reaching shore, Les decides to honor Rudy's last wish by concealing the fact that he was on the boat. Back at the orphanage, Plug accuses Les of being Rudy's accomplice. After Plug viciously slaps the boy, Max comes to Les's defense. Later, the sadistic warden is fired due to Max's influence. Les then tells Max that Rudy is dead. When Max offers Les a job, the boy refuses, claiming that he can make his own way following his moral compass.
Alfred L. Werker
J. Carrol Naish
Philip A. Waxman
The Young Don't Cry
Sal Mineo was seventeen and already a teen idol when The Young Don't Cry went into production, thanks to a strong performance in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). In fact, Mineo's popularity with teenage girls proved to be a headache when the cast and crew went on location to Savannah, Georgia. Girls swamped the Hotel DeSoto, where the cast was staying, forcing the police to keep a few officers at the hotel to throw them out for disturbing the guests. The location itself was, in James Whitmore's words, "a rough shoot. Very physical, but Sal never complained once. What a mess with the bugs, the snakes, the swamp and the girls hiding behind trees to catch a glimpse of him." Apart from the swamps, filming took place at the Bethesda Home for Boys, which filled in for the orphanage where Mineo's character, Leslie Henderson plots his escape and gets mixed up with a chain-gang criminal, played by Whitmore, who forces the boy to help him flee.
The location shooting also proved to be difficult for director Alfred L. Werker, who was ill during production and the hot, humid Savannah weather kept him in his air-conditioned trailer except when he was shooting. Werker, who was a good studio director although he never made the pantheon of great Hollywood auteurs, had made a name for himself with films like The House of Rothschild (1934) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939). Sal Mineo said of Werker, "His quiet urging and sound advice were something I'll never forget." The Young Don't Cry would be Werker's final film.
The Young Don't Cry was Sal Mineo's second film with James Whitmore, his Crime in the Streets (1956) costar, who described Mineo as being self-assured and having great instincts about acting, although he lacked formal training. "He was a kid with a youthful energy about him, a little innocence and a little wickedness. He had already developed a keen sense of the power over people that celebrity handed him. He could be suave and gentlemanly with the girls and he could smoke and curse and be a little tough guy around the fellas. I could sense a reckless streak in him. I believe he had gotten by on his wits from an early age."
The film premiered in late July 1957 at the Palace Theater in New York, where Mineo appeared at a matinee showing of the film and 1400 screaming girls nearly caused a riot. The critics didn't have the same reaction, but The New York Times reviewer called it "a good little picture [...] which director Alfred L. Werker and his camera man, Ernest Haller, have imbued with semi-documentary flavor [...] It's not always easy, in fact, to distinguish the professionals from the real Georgians--a score or so were used. It is a high compliment indeed for an interesting picture, whose components never quite attain its rightful sum."
Producer: Philip A. Waxman
Director: Alfred L. Werker
Screenplay: Richard Jessup
Cinematography: Ernest Haller
Music: George Antheil
Film Editing: Maurice Wright
Cast: Sal Mineo (Leslie 'Les' Henderson), James Whitmore (Rudy Krist), J. Carrol Naish (Plug), Gene Lyons (Max Cole), Paul Carr (Tom Bradley), Thomas A. Carlin (Johnny Clancy), Leigh Whipper (Doosy), Stefan Gierasch (Billy), Victor Throley (Whittaker), Roxanne (Mrs. Maureen Cole).
by Lorraine LoBianco
Erickson, Hal. "The Young Don't Cry." Rovi
Ferguson, Michael. Idol Worship: A Shameless Celebration of Male Beauty in the Movies
Michaud, Greg. Sal Mineo: A Biography
"Screen: An Orphan's Life; 'The Young Don't Cry' Opens at the Palace", The New York Times 27 Jul 57
Smith, Fran. "Movies of the Month: A Big Year for Mineo." Boys Life , Sept 1957
The Young Don't Cry
The working title of this film was The Cunning and the Haunted. According to the Variety review, location filming was done in and around the Brockton Orphanage for Boys near Savannah, GA.