Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
The Cross and the Switchblade
Cleveland Press May 15, 1971
"The Cross and the Switchblade" is based on the experiences of Rev. David Wilkerson in bringing God to rival black and Puerto Rican gangs in New York City.
The picture has a great deal of sincerity about it and is notable for its dealings with a religious theme. Unfortunately, it also looks more like fiction than truth.
With movies taking on such a realistic look and feel (too often for sensational reasons) it is too bad that the same look of reality couldn't have been used in offering a message.
Pat Boone as Rev. Wilkerson is awfully bland. There is nothing in his performance that explains the why and how of his reaching these young truants with the word of God.
As for the gangs, they look like something out of a low-budget production of "West Side Story," a group of actors told to look and act tough but remaining actors nevertheless. A pretty girl who is supposed to be a junkie is just a pretty girl.
What realism the movie has derives from its New York location filming. Director Don Murray generates some excitement and the film generally offers some worthwhile viewing. At least it does not err on the side of sensationalism.