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Crime School
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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Predictable vehicle for the Dead End Kids; watchable at the time…

Author: Righty-Sock ( from Mexico
15 April 2005

"Crime School" is clearly from the same mold as "San Quentin" and Cagney's "The Mayor of Hell."

It is a predictable vehicle for the Dead End Kids, in which Bogart played, in a dull, unemotional style, a deputy commissioner of correction who takes over the running of a reformatory housing the Kids when he finds the warden is a sadist…

There is a threat to Bogart's plan when the Kids escape as part of the warden's calculated attempt to prove Bogart's regenerative prison policies are valueless, but the ruse fails as Bogart gets the boys back winning the solemn recognition of merit…

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"It don't take no brain to get burned."

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
4 October 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In between 1937's "Dead End" and 1938's "Angels With Dirty Faces", came "Crime School", all three films teaming the Dead End Kids with Humphrey Bogart. "Dead End" first introduced the misfit gang of course, and not quite a year later they had top billing in this tale of ghetto poverty and reform school violence. Billy Halop portrayed the leader of the Dead End Kids in all three films, and went on to co-star with Bogey in one more prison movie, 1939's "You Can't Get Away With Murder".

This early on, the Dead End concept wasn't fully fleshed out, as each movie brought the same actors to the screen, though with different names. But their screen personas essentially remained the same; in this film Leo Gorcey is the tough wise guy Spike, Huntz Hall goes by Goofy, and Bobby Jordan is known as Squirt. Interestingly, Gorcey rats out on Halop's character in both "Dead End" and "Crime School".

For his part, Humphrey Bogart played the heel in all the films mentioned, except "Crime School", where he got to turn in a portrayal of level headed and compassionate Deputy Commissioner Mark Braden. In no nonsense fashion, he fires inept guards and the reformatory's crooked Superintendent Morgan (Cy Kendall). However Morgan's hand picked head guard Cooper (Weldon Heyburn) remains behind, feigning loyalty to Braden, but using Spike to create a divisive wedge between Braden and fellow inmate Frankie Warren (Halop). Thrown into the mix is Frankie's sister Sue (co-star Gale Page), who becomes Braden's love interest in the film.

"Crime School" is a taut and well paced film, even if the story line gets muddy with Deputy Commissioner Braden's complicity in covering up the gang's prison break and eventual return. As with other Warner Brothers/First National films of the era, the studio paints a picture of the futility of crime and violence as an answer to poverty. In addition to recommending the movies already mentioned, "Little Caesar" and "Public Enemy" are also must see films, though somewhat harder edged.

An interesting point of trivia - in the prison yard scene when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited for the new commissioner, the words "under God" had not yet been added to the version we know today.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The Mayor of Heck

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
7 January 2006

Warner Brothers decided to save a bundle on purchasing new properties for the Dead End Kids. The boys did They Made Me a Criminal a year later which was a remake of The Life of Jimmy Dolan and Crime School is a remake of The Mayor from Hell.

Fellow gangster icon James Cagney starred in The Mayor from Hell which I also reviewed here. Such things as Cagney's motivation and commitment to the reform school and the manner with which the boys take matters into their own hands is pretty grisly. None of that in this kinder, gentler film.

Sleepers has a lot of the same elements in both The Mayor from Hell and Crime School. It's certainly better than Crime School. This was one film whose message was watered down to nothing.

Nevertheless Crime School does have Humphrey Bogart in it and the Dead End Kids are always entertaining.

I wonder what kind of stuff the Dead End Kids would have been turning out had they come along pre-Code?

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

a lesser quality re-hash of DEAD END

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
29 December 2005

This is a re-pairing of much of the cast of DEAD END--with the Dead End Kids and Humphrey Bogart together in the same film. The BIG difference this time is that instead of Bogey playing the nasty gangster, he is a juvenile prison crusader--bent on reforming the system and stressing rehabilitation. While this is an interesting twist, it is odd considering Bogart mostly played heavies during this era. And the overall effort isn't bad BUT once again I need to knock off a point because I simply find the Dead End Kids annoying at times. While not as annoying as they were to become when they were re-dubbed the Bowery Boys (complete with a few cast changes), a little of their hijinks goes a long way!

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Crime School is a mediocre film, but

Author: emoreno-1 from USA
23 October 2002

Crime School is a mediocre film, but still a good performance by Bogart. One of the Dead End Kids films, it struggles to keep you interested. The Dead End Kids are, well dead. The acting is very poor and the characters and almost annoying with the over done accents and supposed gang behavior. The main problem which contributes to the entire films downfall is the unrealistic dialog and actions. When one of the kids shows up at the pawnshop with a 100 lb cast iron bathtub, you roll your eyes. But when Cy Kendell gets fired from a job he has had for 12 years and he puts up almost no protest you have to reach for remote and try not to stop the tape. Its finer points are the moral and political statements the film makes on reforming child criminals. Sadism versus compassion, hate verses love, good points clouded by comical attempts at portraying tough street kids. Bogart is a great actor and plays the part well, of all the characters in the film his is the most believable and entertaining. Definitely not one of Lew Seiler's best movies. I would not rent it unless you are old enough to connect for nostalgic reasons, but if it shows on TV it is worth muddling through it.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"A boy, not much older than you, was electrocuted tonight in Sing Sing."

Author: utgard14 from USA
29 July 2015

Humphrey Bogart takes over a reform school and tries to straighten out the Dead End Kids in this fine urban drama from Warner Bros. It's the second movie featuring the Dead End Kids after their debut in "Dead End" and their first for Warner Bros. This one is essentially a remake of a great Pre-Code movie called "The Mayor of Hell," which was also made by WB and starred James Cagney. That movie was grittier than this one and, since it didn't star the Dead End Kids, was less comedic. That isn't to say this movie is a comedy but the mugging of the Kids brings levity to even the most serious of scripts. Eventually someone would realize the boys were better suited for comedies but in these early dramas they were used to illustrate the plight of tough street kids.

The Dead End Kids have their share of detractors among classic film fans today. Read through some of the reviews of their movies here and you'll come across some very vocal 'haters.' I like them myself, particularly the later movies they did as East Side Kids and Bowery Boys where Leo Gorcey was the leader of the gang instead of humorless Billy Halop. Anyway, the Kids are good here despite drama not being their forte. Humphrey Bogart shines as the good guy, an unusual role for him at this point in his career. Bogart also appeared in "Dead End," although he was a gangster in that one. Gale Page is nice in a sympathetic role as the sister of Halop's character. It's a good movie of its type and I have no doubt fans of the urban crime pictures WB specialized in will like it. And, of course, Bogart and Dead End Kids fans will enjoy it most.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I really enjoyed the performances but...

Author: calvinnme from United States
22 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

... I'm perhaps a poor judge of the film itself since it is an obvious remake of "The Mayor of Hell" with some "San Quentin" thrown in for good measure. In particular, "San Quentin" has Bogart as the convict made to believe that the warden is just being nice to him to get to his sister, and in this film Bogart is the prison administrator. It's interesting to compare the scene in both films where the escaped prisoner confronts the warden, in "San Quentin" with Bogart holding the gun on the warden, and in "Crime School" with Bogart being the wrongly accused warden being held at gunpoint. It's a tribute to his acting skills that he was so believable in both.

James Cagney played the head of the reform school in Mayor of Hell, but he was more of an accidental angel, getting the job because of political connections, plus he was a former gangster with moll in tow when he arrived. Bogart's take on this same role has him as always having been a straight arrow, a guy with an education who wants to help these kids who have come up from the same neighborhood from which he came up.

What makes this one special versus its predecessor is seeing Bogart in a good yet tough guy role and the special chemistry of the Dead End Kids who were so good together that they continued making films under various monikers until 1958.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Not Your Typical Kids

Author: Brian Washington ( from Los Angeles, California
8 October 2002

This was the first "Dead End Kids" film that I watched and I really enjoyed it (too bad they don't show it on television anymore). When I first watched it, it was at a time when I thought all "kid gang" films were like the Little Rascal/Our Gang Comedies. The Dead End Kids were the ones who broke the mold and made the kids believable and this film hooked me on them. The one scene that I was particularly shocked with was when Frankie (Billy Halop) tried to make a break for it and got caught in the barbed wire fence. What happened to him after still makes me cringe as he is whipped within an inch of his life with a cat-a-nine tails. Even though this film is not a classic like "Dead End", the film that introduced us to the Kids, it still is a good picture on it's own.

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Film

Author: Rita Belle (squirt-10) from East Coast
21 January 2004

This is a great DEK flick, classic & appealing! I recommend this film before you see any other DEK film. This will get you acquainted with them and you will love watching the other films! My favorite character is Frankie Warren...he sets the tone for the movies and the other guys accent it all so well that you couldn't imagine them apart!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

no such thing as a bad kid

Author: blanche-2 from United States
8 August 2015

The Dead End Kids star with Humphrey Bogart in "Crime School," a 1938 film from Warner Brothers.

The boys live in a rough neighborhood. They steal things and bring them to a fence, whom Spike accidentally kills. They are sent to reform school, but the school turns out to be more like a prison, run by a horrible warden (Cy Kendall) and his henchman (Weldon Heyburn).

Bogart plays Braden, the new Deputy Commissioner of Correction. When he comes for a visit he sees Frankie (Billy Halop) untreated in the hospital with lash wounds all over his back. He tastes the food, which is inedible. He fires the warden and several guards. He fires the drunk doctor. The bars come off the windows, the food is better, the kids are in training for various skills, no more whippings.

Then the henchman, still working there, sets Braden up to take a big fall by convincing Spike (Leo Gorcey) to take his car keys and escape. Of course the rest of the boys come with him.

Entertaining, with Bogart playing a nice guy. Gale Page is Frankie's sister. If you like the Dead End Kids, this is okay, though I understand it's not their best.

Of interest, "under God" is left out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

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