Maybe just a quirk of scheduling, but "The Boys" (1962) was shown on BBC2 on Wednesday. It is a film about the trial of four lads accused of murdering an elderly night watchman. The film first shows the prosecution witnesses and all their disagreeable encounters with the Teds and then switches to the defence, where the other side of the story is shown.
What is interesting is that the loutish behaviour and random violence did exist and the general public did feel powerless even then - one incident had a woman bribing them just to 'go away'. The boys were routinely challenged but the challenges were confronted and faced down at each turn. These were the grandparents of today's problem youth.
It is a fantastic film as it captures the post 1950's world before the 1960's got going, much as "Victim" (1961) did a year earlier. Housing, work environments, entertainment, dating, human interactions in the home and between layers of society - all can be seen. 4,000 people on the Council housing list in Tottenham, it seems! "The Blue Lamp" is another very useful film, especially the beginning, where the scene is set and the problem of unconstrained youth violence in post-war Britain is outlined.
The fate of such boys could well be the death penalty in 1962. In the 2007 world of New Labour/NeueArbeit, they are likely to get between 19 and 62 months, with any people they encountered charged with assault "to keep the numbers up".
I am not in favour of the death penalty, which this film takes a tilt at, but bad housing, broken radios and a pair of winkle-pickers trodden on by yer mom is no exuse for crime. It was interesting that special treatment was given to the (closed shop) union member amongst them - his union card was a permission to work, the error of which probably never dawned on the films audience nor its creators.
We see another upstanding young man killed by mindless violence after they confronted feckless and anarchic youth. Each time someone dies, all decent people die a little, too. Each time someone is assaulted, all decent people are themselves assaulted. Maybe this is why our so-called 'leaders' and representatives have acted like they feel nothing for at least a decade. Remove the targets and paperwork. Let the Police do their job and let property owners and decent people be able to robustly defend themselves. Yes, yobs should know that if they start trouble it will only be they who get arrested and no mind to any blows they get in response to their crime, for they have only themselves to blame and have lost rights in the committing of their offences. Right now, however, the more wrong you do, the more "rights" you seem to get, while the more law abiding you are, the easier prey you appear to the bureaucratic target hunters.