Cinema: Territorial Imperative

Translations have killed more classics than censorship. The Boys of Paul Street, by Ferenc Molnar, is a favorite throughout Europe, but the awkward English version has kept it unreadable in the U.S. for nearly half a century. This film of the 1927 novel belatedly corrects the neglect with a careful, correct adaptation.

As the 20th century disfigures a city, groups of teen-age boys skirmish over its last remaining vacant lot. A territorial imperative drives them into paramilitary gangs, complete with bugles, spears and articles of war. As is common with armies and youths, the weakest individual is the most brutalized. He is...

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