The Cross and the Switchblade
Based on a true story, David Wilkerson (Pat Boone) is the small-town preacher who gets caught in the shadows of a crime-ridden neighborhood in New York City. He encounters a gang led by Nicky Cruz (Erik Estrada), and David brings a message of hope to the angry youths. Guided by the street-wise Little Bo (Jo-Ann Robinson), David quickly learns about the neighborhood and how to approach the cynical juveniles. This moralistic family film attempts to give hope to those who walk in the shadows of darkness. Despite the preachy nature of the plot, it is a well-done film and Pat Boone’s character relates well to the targeted white, middle-class audience. Nicky Cruz would go on to become an ordained minister, preaching the gospel due to the initial efforts of David Wilkerson.
This film premiered in 1970 and although the style of clothing has changed a lot, and the music, the theme of rebellion and the need for love is still as current and relevent as it was then. This film is based on David Wilkerson’s book which carries the same title, “The Cross and the Switchblade.” This movie is not for those under twelve. Although not gratuitous, there are some scenes of blood as a result of the gangs’ rumbles, which include using baseball bats, blades, and chains. Drug use is shown several times too but there is redemption for many of these characters as Wilkerson’s preaching wins some of them over, including his hardest case–Nicky Cruz, played by Eric Estrada.
There is talk of drug use and prostitution and a few girls wear short skirts, but the redemptive qualities of this film are worth seeing, so we award this film four doves and approve it for twelve and up.