Already in trouble with the law, Arthur and his friend Nutty break into a drugstore to get medicine for Nutty's grandmother. The druggist's wife, Mrs. Doray, asks for custody. When he hears... See full summary »
Already in trouble with the law, Arthur and his friend Nutty break into a drugstore to get medicine for Nutty's grandmother. The druggist's wife, Mrs. Doray, asks for custody. When he hears them arguing over him, Arthur runs away. When he returns Mr. Doray is being held up by bandits at the drugstore. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mildly interesting, but Warner Brothers did this sort of film a lot better!
In the mid-1930s, there were quite a few social reform films aimed at the problems of juvenile delinquency. The gist of them was that these problem kids could easily be turned away from lives of crime if only given a fair shake. For the most part, Warner Brothers specialized in these sort of movies--first with the likes of young Frankie Darro and later with the Dead End kids. Some of these films like "Wild Boys of the Road", "Dead End" and "Angels With Dirty Faces" are now considered classics and films were quite popular in their day. However, this type of film was not exclusive to Warner Brothers--occasionally some of the other studios produced similar films. A great example of this is Fox's "Young America"--a film that begs the audience to give the unwanted youth another chance.
The film begins with a do-gooder (Doris Kenyon) meeting with a juvenile court judge (Ralph Bellamy) on behalf of some civic betterment group. She requests to sit in on the court's proceedings to learn about the problems facing kids. He gladly lets her and one of the cases seems to really affect her--the supposedly 'worst kid in town'--Art (Tommy Conlon). However, instinctively she KNOWS he's misunderstood and worth redeeming. Through some ridiculous chain of events, she eventually gains custody of the boy--much to the consternation of her husband (Spencer Tracy) who thinks the kid is a crook! While there is a lot to the story after that, in the end the couple learn that Art is one swell kid and they all live happily ever after---a bit like Curious George, actually!
There are two main problems about this film that keep it from approaching the quality of the Warner films. First, while Art has a good heart, he's also amazingly stupid--and it's hard to like stupid people! Again and again, he COULD go to adults and ask for help and again and again he does things on his own that are selfless but sure look bad! You'd think the idiot would get the idea that MAYBE he should ask for help first! And, when he's caught, he doesn't even try to explain why he did what he did. In essence, he's got the brain of Mr. Potatohead! Second, while ALL these sort of films are preachy and a tad naive, this one comes off as much, much more so than usual--especially in the preachy department. The subtlety and charm of the Warner films is missing--despite having a very good director, Frank Borzage, at the helm. It was as if this accomplished man had no idea what to do with this sort of film.
My advice, then, is watch any one of a couple dozen Warner films instead. The three listed above would be a good start, but "Mayor of Hell" or "Angels Wash Their Faces" or "Crime School" would also be well worth your time. Skip "Young America"--it's tough to believe, comes on way too strong and simply is second-rate.
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