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>
Director William Wyler was dissatisfied with the look Wendy Barrie gave of disgust in a scene where she was supposed to react to trash cans in dirty alley. After several unsatisfactory retakes, Wyler ordered the property man to obtain real cockroaches, which elicited the appropriate response from the actress. See more »
Opening credits prologue: Every street in New York ends in a river. For many years the dirty banks of the East River were lined with the tenements of the poor. Then the rich, discovering that the river traffic was picturesque, moved their houses eastward. And now the terraces of these great apartment houses look down into the windows of the tenement poor. See more »
I recently watched this film for the first time in many years and I would like to comment in particular on Humphrey Bogart's performance as Baby Face Martin. In the Depression days of the 1930's many citizens admired top criminals who successfully opposed the law (i.e., John Dillinger), in the belief that the law itself was part of the corrupt, elitist system that brought Depression woes upon them and theirs. Martin's character fit this role to a "T" and it shows in his bravery, courage and hatred of the police. A many-faceted character, it also reveals his love for mother and former girlfriend and his gut desire to settle down to a normal lifestyle, abandoning his bloody career. Of course, it is too late for him to turn it around. I believe that although not yet a star, this was Bogart's greatest role, arguably on a par with The Treasure of Sierra Madre. Incidentally, a little known and seldom shown "B" film from the 1940's, the spooky Return of Dr. X, had Bogart as an absolutely chilling "Dr. X", resurrected from the dead. I highly recommend this for Bogie fans. This multi-talented actor could definitely have become a star of horror films had he been so inclined.
Allen Jenkins, as his devoted cohort "Hunk" in Dead End, gave a fine performance in probably his only serious role in a long career as a supporting actor in comedy parts. Really a shame. His fight, gun in hand, with Joel McRae in the alley could not have been more realistic, to my way of thinking. The rest of the cast, indeed, was flawless. And how about those Dead End Kids? Although only six years old when the film came out it was reissued frequently and I clearly remember the mothers of that day did all in their power to prevent their children from seeing the film, fearing, perhaps not unrealistically, that they would emulate the "Kids". Wouldn't happen today, now would it? One contributor here thought that Dead End should be remade, citing all the problems of today's youth. I totally disagree. This would only be duplication, ad nauseum, of the same third rate trash -- for the most part -- that never ends in today's films and on the tube. Dead End, however was the forerunner in showing juvenile delinquency and it's connection to -- and likely development into -- serious crime. This last is just another reason to heap praise upon this eminently laudable film. And in closing, I would like to say that while 1937 was not a particularly notable year for the country in general, being in the throes of The Great Depression, as far as the efforts of the film industry went, it was a very, very good year. I for one, am thankful for it.
Just recently I finished the 1971 autobiography "Cagney By Cagney". During the filming of "Angels With Dirty Faces" which one might say is a sequel to "Dead End", Cagney ran afoul of the Dead End Kids, in the person of Dead End Kid Leo Gorcey, who was proving uncooperative and insolent. Cagney, in reality a tough guy, gave Gorcey an elbow to the head that ended his behavior. Cagney says further that "in a film with the Dead End Kids" the Kids' took issue with a statement by Bogart and then took off his trousers. Bogart, the consummate gangster in film, was nothing of the sort in real life. The film would have to have been "Dead End" -- the idea obviously emanating from de-trousering the rich kid.
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