David Wilkerson is a relatively young parish priest in 1950s Philipsburg, Pennsylvania.
His church sends him to the slums of New York to bring the word of God to the young men of a street gang called the Egyptian Kings, who are on trial for their violent gang activities. With insufficient funds to even get a hotel room, the young priest if forced to sleep in his car.
David is not allowed anywhere near the Egyptian Kings, but his trip to the courthouse creates much publicity.
Because of that publicity, David meets a tough street youth named Little Bo, who offers to introduce the priest to the other main gangs still out on the streets – the mixed white Mau Maus, and the predominantly black Bishops, who are fighting each other for territory.
The general consensus is that if David can get through to Nicky Cruz – one of the leaders of the Mau Maus – he will be able to get through to anyone. Future CHiPS star Eric Estrada is excellent as Cruz.
With an obviously low budget, and camp and naive attempts to portray “cool” street behaviour, The Cross and The Switchblade was based on a true story. The real-life Nicky Cruz went on to become a notable evangelist himself.
Jo Ann Robinson