After serving his creative apprenticeship in short subjects, Italian filmmaker Luigi Comencini made his feature-film debut with Guaglio. The film was also released as Proibito Rubare, and later was distributed to the U.S. as Hey, Boy! The dramatic crux of the film is the relationship between a missionary priest and a gang of postwar Neapolitan street kids. Reportedly, Comencini and co-writer Suso Cecchi D'Amico deliberately patterned the film after the 1938 Hollywood release Boys Town. If so, they eschewed the MGM gloss of the earlier film in favor of gritty neorealism and pointed criticism of Naples' class-consciousness. The two main characters, the priest and the boy who helps him "reach" the other kids, are played by Adolfo Celi and Mario Russo. Most of the urchins are effectively played by nonprofessionals recruited from the streets of Naples.
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