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W.S. Van Dyke
William B. Davidson
Claude Pierce is delighted to move in with his father, Jay Pierce, a struggling architect living in lower Manhattan, for the six months the divorce agreement of his parents specified. He's come at a particularly bad time for his classmate, Gig Stevens, whose father is to be executed that night for murder, so he's treated badly by Gig as well as Gig's pal, Buck Murphy, and their gang. But he takes boxing lessons and holds his own in a fight with the older and heavier Buck, so he is grudgingly accepted into the gang. Their chief interest is to get a proper tombstone for Gig's father, costing $80. When stealing and selling tires proves too slow, Claude suggests burglarizing some rich kid's home for his toys, and pawning them. Claude leads them to a house at night, where rich looking toys are found, stolen and pawned. However, a suspicious policeman has them brought before a judge where Claude eventually confesses they were his toys; he knew his mother was away and the house was ... Written by
Arthur Hausner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Kind of like a Dead End Kids film but starring the biggest and best talent MGM could provide.
Today it's hard to imagine child stars as popular as the three starring in this film. Mickey Rooney and Jackie Cooper had been stars with MGM since the early 30s and young Freddie Bartholomew had just come off some huge performances, such as in "David Copperfield". Together, the three were responsible for HUGE numbers in ticket sales and although kids, they had every bit the star power as a movie today if it were to star Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Christian Bale! Yep, times have changed.
The film itself is quite similar to the Dead End Kids films that would soon be made over at Warner Brothers, though instead of a large ensemble cast of child actors, "The Devil is a Sissy" rests clearly on these three. Plus, instead of the three kids all begins young criminal types, two of the three are of that bent and the third, Bartholomew, an odd sort of fish indeed! Imagine a kid with a strong British accent being transported to the tough side of Manhattan (yes, in the 1930s, parts of Manhattan were tough--and not much like today). It seems that Freddie's on-screen dad (Ian Hunter) is an artist living there and has come from his mother's to live with Dad. Despite having nothing in common with the tough neighborhood kids, Freddie longs to be accepted--much like how Pip wants to be accepted by the kids on "South Park"! Again and again, the prissy and well-mannered Bartholomew is rebuffed in his efforts until ultimately proving himself a stand-up guy.
Overall, it's a good film of its type, but I must say that the addition of Bartholomew made the overall effort seem pretty fake--even compared to the Dead End films. It's good but also not the least bit believable! six-toed kid
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