Ask Me, Don't Tell Me.

This film documents the Youth for Service project in San Francisco during the 50s; a project that recruited youth gangs to do various community service projects, usually involving construction, maintenance, or environmental work. The project itself looks quite successful in channeling the gangs into constructive activity; one wonders if it is still going on today and if not, why not. But beyond that, this film is a wonderful document of 50s gang life and teen culture. Gang members narrate certain parts of the film themselves, using almost unintelligible gang lingo. We get to see inner city youth in their own environment, hanging out at various places and amusing themselves in various ways, both acceptable and not acceptable. A whole host of gang jackets and insignia are shown and the film even has a cool homegrown rock-and-roll soundtrack. The adult narrators speak about the youth in surprisingly respectful terms, yet they are not overly idealistic about their project. Their attitude is refereshingly free from either fear or pity. Overall, this is one of the most realistic and best juvenile delinquent films I've ever seen.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.

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