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It's Halloween in an Irish New York City slum. Sixteen-year-old hoodlum Jackie Cooper (as Chuck Brennan) and his gang get in trouble for making some prank telephone calls. Home from the police station, Mr. Cooper worries mother Marjorie Main (as Mary), who feels her son will grow up like boozy good-for-nothing father Guy Usher. The family's poor tenement is enchanted by young Maureen O'Connor (as Nora) singing "Did Your Mother Come from Ireland?"
Sadly, Ms. O'Connor's tubercular mother is taken to a sanitarium. When not scuffling with rival gang members, Cooper and his pals help O'Connor get a singing gig, but the moralistic "Children's Aid Society" interferes...
Cooper left MGM and the peroxide to continue his teenage career elsewhere. Monogram Pictures was a poorer studio, but Cooper gives this social consciousness drama a richer performance than anyone expected; he received good notices and won a "National Board of Review" award. "Boy of the Streets" obviously rides on the coattails of the recently released "Dead End" (with Ms. Main) but plays ahead of its curve by including Paul White (as Spike), a relatively admirable ethnic gang member.
******* Boy of the Streets (12/8/37) William Nigh ~ Jackie Cooper, Maureen O'Connor, Marjorie Main, Paul White
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