Claude Rains at first turned down the part, feeling he would be miscast and look ridiculous as a tough New York City cop. Only after being threatened by the studio with suspension did he reluctantly accept it, but he always considered this one of his least favorite pictures.
Director Busby Berkeley first made a name for himself with musical spectaculars like Footlight Parade (1933), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) and 42nd Street (1933). He persuaded Warner Brothers executives to let him do a dramatic picture, and they assigned him to this film. He didn't shed his musical association entirely, however; the film contains an "in-joke". When "Dippy" (Huntz Hall) operates the controls of a makeshift shower, he serenades the bathing "Jack/Johnnie" with "By The Waterfall", a song from Berkeley's hit "Footlight Parade".
This was a remake of The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933). To conform with the Hays Office--the industry's censorship board, first imposed in 1934--the reporter in this film is killed by the fighter's manager. In 1933 the prizefighter, Jimmy Dolan, the central character and hero, was the killer.
Apparently, the copyright on this film was not renewed, and so it fell into public domain; as a result, countless discount VHS and DVD dealers, who normally do not include copyrighted major studio titles in their inventories, do offer this one, but since they don't have access to original negative material, copies are usually unacceptably inferior.
The fourth of seven movies featuring The Dead End Kids. In the original film, The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933), the kids are played by Mickey Rooney and several cast members of the our "Our Gang" comedy shorts--a much younger crowd.