This first film version of "The Children's Hour" uses a heterosexual triangle rather than the play's lesbian theme. The plot concerns schoolteachers Karen Wright and Martha Dobie, both of ... See full summary »
Burr and Dave, two close friends who have backed each other up in countless difficulties, are torn apart by the arrival of a woman, Manette, who becomes stranded with them in their cabin ... See full summary »
William 'Stage' Boyd
The Dead End Kids are introduced in their intricate East Side slum, overlooked by the apartments of the rich. Their antics, some funny, some vicious, alternate with subplots: unemployed architect Dave is torn between Drina, sweet but equally poor, and Kay, a rich man's mistress; gangster Baby Face Martin returns to his old neighborhood and finds that nobody is glad to see him. Then violent crime, both juvenile and adult, impacts the neighborhood and its people. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wyler gave Trevor an old purse and broken high heel shoes. He had her minimize her make-up and ordered her not to comb her hair when she got up in the morning. He wanted her to look like the downtrodden character she was playing. See more »
Maybe I'm wrong. We all make mistakes, boss. That's why they put the rubber on the ends of pencils.
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Great visual beauties, direction, acting. A so-and-so story.
The main credit of "Dead End" lies in the stunning visual beauties. The studio reproduction of a New York slum is really magnificent, worth of other major achievements of the same kind, like, say, the set of "Rear Window". A true joy for the eyes. The work of the camera and William Wyler's direction are outstanding, as well. And, of course, the job of the cast is great. Bogart, still in the role of the villain, McCrea and Sylvia Sidney are excellent, and save their rather straightforward characters and lines. In my opinion, the best one is Claire Trevor, in the small part of the lost girl. I normally dislike kids on the screen, but I must concede that here they give great performances, playing the gang of street-boys.
The story is conventional, with a noble message, but few and predictable twists. The script is often clumsy and preachy. Luckily enough, the director gives a quick pace to the narration and inserts a number of humoristic touches. There's a main flaw in the plot: I think that, even in the States of the 1930s, a common citizen couldn't freely shoot a gangster.
Anyway, I've found in the screen-play an interesting and modern theme, namely the psychological ambiguity of some characters, whom even the all-knowing viewer cannot fully understand. For instance, Claire Trevor is apparently the cliche disgraced girl, the innocent victim of poverty, lack of opportunities, social injustice. To end as a prostitute is her unavoidable doom... But, when her former boy-friend Bogie gives some money to help her, she makes the horribly vulgar request of "twenty more bucks"... with a grimace worth of a hardened prostitute (great stuff by Trevor!). So we see that, after all, perhaps that girl is not so innocent as she pretends to be... And what about Drina's brother, the leader of the street-boys? The audience is perfectly aware that, in spite of his whining, weeping self-apologies (when he's in dire straits), the boy is a REAL criminal. We see that he deliberately harms people, steals, brutally thrashes the rich kid, wants to slash his gang-mate. And he just mocks his affectionate sister and his friend McCrea when, in tears, he cries that he's good, that he didn't intend to harm, and all that. So, are we supposed to feel sympathy for this hideous boy? Interesting ambiguity, which creates a fine artistic effect... perhaps beyond the actual intentions of the writer Lillian Hellman.
All in all, we may forgive the defects of the movie. it is worth seeing "Dead End", enjoying the beauty of the set and the work of director and actors.
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