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Dead End (1937)

Passed  -  Crime | Drama | Film-Noir  -  27 August 1937 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,838 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 30 critic

The Dead End Kids, an unemployed architect, and gangster Baby Face Martin interact with an East Side neighborhood over one day and night.

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(screen play), (based upon the play by)
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Title: Dead End (1937)

Dead End (1937) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Dave
...
Wendy Barrie ...
Kay
...
Francey
...
Hunk
Marjorie Main ...
Mrs. Martin
Billy Halop ...
Tommy
Huntz Hall ...
Bobby Jordan ...
Angel
Leo Gorcey ...
Spit (as Leo B. Gorcey)
Gabriel Dell ...
Bernard Punsly ...
Milty
Charles Peck ...
Philip
Minor Watson ...
Mr. Griswald
Edit

Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THE GREATEST GANGSTER THRILLER THAT EVER EXPLODED FROM THE SCREEN! (1944 reissue print ad - all caps)

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 August 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead End: Cradle of Crime  »

Box Office

Budget:

$300,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Hunk: Maybe I'm wrong. We all make mistakes, boss. That's why they put the rubber on the ends of pencils.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Crime School (1938) See more »

Soundtracks

The Prisoner's Song
(1924) (uncredited)
Written by Guy Massey
Played on a kazoo by Bobby Jordan and sung by the boys
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Great visual beauties, direction, acting. A so-and-so story.
7 November 2002 | by (Padova, Italy) – See all my reviews

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.




19 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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