"A writ of hocus pocus"

Mobsters pin arson on a good kid with a reform school background.

Aside from gangland posturing by a put-upon group of kids that call themselves the Termites, there's not an awful lot to this.

The film is packed with melodramatic, if not outright bad, acting. The situations are certainly serious, but not altogether logical, especially the shallow and overplayed reactions to what's going on. It's supposed to be drama, but it really plays like a comedy without the jokes.

There's an amusing dream sequence where one of the kids is tormented by actually having to study, his friends hopping and crawling around his sleeping head as they ask question after question. It's a primitive technique, and not impressive to modern eyes, but there's something simultaneously kitschy and effective about it.

It's ironic that, in fighting a corrupt, might-makes-right organization, these kids' behavior isn't much different. They rough up other kids, break-and-enter and steal, and generally make hooligans of themselves. It's funny, in a way, and even a nice relief from moral superiority. We effectively see mob rule replaced by mob rule, with no contemplation of the meaning of it all.

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