13 West Street (1962)

  • Year: 1962
  • Released: 06 Jun 1962
  • Country: United States
  • Adwords: N/A
  • IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055718/
  • Rotten Tomatoes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/13_west_street
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: Passed
  • Genre: Crime, Drama
  • Runtime: 80 min
  • Writer: Bernard C. Schoenfeld, Robert Presnell Jr., Leigh Brackett
  • Director: Philip Leacock
  • Cast: Alan Ladd, Rod Steiger, Michael Callan
  • Keywords: juvenile delinquent,

13 West Street Storyline

Walt Sherill is a mild-mannered space engineer who is a victim of a vicious “for kicks” assault by a teen-age gang. Increasingly obsessed by his desire for revenge, Sherill embarks on a manhunt of his own, and hampers the efforts of Detective Sergeant Pete Koleski, consequently causing some avoidable deaths.—Les Adams

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13 West Street Movie Reviews


Alan Ladd, Rod Steiger, Michael Callan, and Delores Dorn star in “13 West Street,” from 1962.

This was Alan Ladd’s last starring role, and, frankly, it was heartbreaking to see him. He looks all washed up and shows the effect of his alcoholism. He plays an aeronautics engineer. Walt Sherrill, who comes up against some juveniles and is badly beaten by them, left with a broken leg, a concussion, and other injuries. The biggest injury seems to be to his psyche.

Dissatisfied with the progress of one Detective Koleseki (Steiger), Sherill hires a private detective (Stanley Adams) to help track down his attackers. The kids seem to be from a good school and good families.

It’s not long after he returns from the hospital that he and his wife (Dorn) begin to receive threats, warning them not to continue the investigation. Sherrill is driven to take the law into his own hands, to the consternation of Koleski and Mrs. Sherrill.

Juvenile delinquency was a hot topic in the 1950s. Of course, what was considered juvenile delinquency then – souped up hot rods, talking back to parents and teachers, and chewing gum, seems like good etiquette now. Here, Michael Callan, Chris Robinson, and Arnold Merritt are spoiled kids whose parents let them get away with murder. Landry (Callan) is the one with no conscience, and he has control over the other kids.

Of interest to me was the Mrs. Cleaver concept of Ladd’s wife, Dorn, and the mothers – Jeanne Cooper and Margaret Hayes – being impeccably dressed mid-day and not seeming to do much other than relax by the pool or mixing a drink.

Rod Steiger is excellent as a careful, calm detective who doesn’t get rattled easily; beauty pageant winner/stage actress/acting teacher Delores Dorn is lovely as Sherrill’s wife.

Alan Ladd had a short but very successful career. He had a Grapes of Wrath childhood, he watched his mother poison herself and die, he was of small stature – that he became such a star, had a family, and made it to 50 was a miracle. He left a strong legacy. That’s how I want to remember him.

Pretty good–and a good way for Ladd to wrap up his career

As Alan Ladd’s last starring role, this was a pretty good way to finish his all-too-short career. While it’s not the best thing he ever did, it is one of his better films. Unfortunately, for me, a real fan of Ladd, it’s also a bit tough to watch because he’s obviously suffering the effects of advanced alcoholism–with a puffy look about him and slightly slurred speech. In addition, at times his performance was a bit limp–though at other times, particularly at the end, he was able to rouse some of that old Alan Ladd energy and anger.

The film is about a decent man who through no fault of his own is badly beaten by a group of young spoiled rich thugs. The problem is that the information on who did this was scant so catching the thugs looked uncertain. Plus Ladd had a lot of trouble getting on with his life–particularly when members of this little gang began threatening him and his wife. From that point on, Ladd is a bit like Captain Ahab–with an almost incessant need to find and punish the teens. Surprisingly, Rod Steiger underplays the role of a decent detective who is investigating the case (he sometimes seemed to overact in some films–here he was perfect). He’s trying his best to find the boys AND keep Ladd from getting himself in trouble for being a vigilante.

Add to this basic plot decent acting, a very good and suspenseful script as well as a very adult plot for 1962 and you’ve got the formula for a very good drama–far better than many of the mediocre films Ladd had been making through much of the 1950s and 60s.

You Must Visit “13 West Street”

I was very surprised with “13 West Street”. I found it both believable, and well-performed. It’s amazing to see Alan Ladd’s character correctly identify his as a “hate” crime. The way the director makes us (and the characters) think all teenagers are members of the five who attacked Mr. Ladd was nicely done.

The successful older man coming to terms, perhaps, with his increasing vulnerability is a great film subject. Ladd seems to understand this, and it becomes part of his performance. His physicality (whatever real health concerns he is having) is successfully incorporated into his performance.

Ladd’s younger “trophy” wife really cares for him, and is unsure how to handle the unfolding events. Rod Steiger is great as the police detective assigned to the case — watch how he turns over the newspaper when he confront the bartender. There are a lot of nice little touches like that — from the director and/or performers… watch all their little mannerisms; they all fit the characters, and add to the believability.

There are more unexpected, and riveting, events. Are they implausible? In a 1962 film, perhaps they seemed so, but the decade ended with crimes and criminals significantly more “implausible”. Accepting the situation is believable, there are some flaws which keep this from being a perfect film. I would have preferred “Chuck” to be a Charles Manson-type psycho, and could have done without the “Teenage Terror” angle. There are also some necessary “budget” restrictions.

They made the absolute most out of the budget they had, though. Highly recommended!

********* 13 West Street (1962) Philip Leacock ~ Alan Ladd, Rod Steiger, Michael Callan, Dolores Dorn