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Bad Boy (1939)

Approved | | Drama, Crime | 10 July 1939 (USA)
Johnny Fraser (Johnny Downs) leaves his mother (Helen MacKellar) in their small home town and sets out for the big city. He obtains a job with a large firm of architects. Steve Carson (... See full summary »



(original screenplay)


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Complete credited cast:
... John Fraser
... Madelon Kirby
... Mrs. Fraser
Spencer Williams ... Terry (as Spencer Williams Jr.)
Archie Robbins ... Steve Carson (as James Robbins)
... Mr. McNeil
... George (as Dick Cramer)
Harry Lang ... Vanetti
Crane Whitley ... Henchman (as Clem Wilenchick)


Johnny Fraser (Johnny Downs) leaves his mother (Helen MacKellar) in their small home town and sets out for the big city. He obtains a job with a large firm of architects. Steve Carson (Archie Robbins), a fellow employee, is constantly flaunting the money he has won at the race track. Johnny also bets the races, but loses heavily and takes some of the firm's money to cover his losses. Steve also introduces Johnny to Madelon Kirby (Rosalind Keith), a gold-digging night club singer. When the firm's boss, McNeil (Holmes Herbert), learns that Johnny has embezzled some money, he fires him and has him jailed. Johnny's mother comes to the aid of her son, but he can not find work when he is released. Through Steve Carson, Johnny becomes the head of a shady firm, Business Engineers, and is making a lot of money. Madelon enters the scene again and she and Johnny are married, and he is unaware that Steve is not only double-crossing him in the business but with Madelon also. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Drama | Crime


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Release Date:

10 July 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Perilous Journey  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film received its initial television broadcast Friday 9 February 1940 on New York City's pioneer, still experimental, television station W2XBS. Post-WWII television viewers got their first look at it in San Francisco Sunday 23 January 1949, as one of the first feature films to be shown on freshly launched KPIX (Channel 5); in New York it first aired Tuesday 12 July 1949 on WPIX (Channel 11) and in Los Angeles Saturday 29 October 1949 on KNBH (Channel 4). See more »

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Joe Breen Steps In
21 September 2005 | by See all my reviews

In a letter, dated May 18, 1939, from Joseph I. Breen (Production Code Administrator-Director of the 'Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America, Inc.') to Producer/Writer Richard C. Kahn, Mr. Breen found a whole lot of things he didn't like (and wasn't going to allow) in the shooting script of THE UNCROWNED QUEEN. (The title was changed to BAD BOY when released later that year.) Joe Breen allowed that "while the story could be made in conformity with the Production Code, it will be necessary to follow carefully the suggestions set forth hereafter, in order to eliminate the numerous objectionable details which make this story, in its present form, unacceptable." Generally, censor Breen advised that the story should be dealing with racketeers rather than old-style gangsters; care should be used not to overemphasize the profits which arise from illegal activities such as racketeering; and there should be no suggestion that there is a sex affair between Madelon and Steve.

And, then Joe proceeded to eliminate nearly every scene, beginning with scene 7 and advising that the world "CH..K (this one is on the site's can't use list, also)should be eliminated from this scene and any other scene in which it is used.

Getting down to brass tacks, Breen states: "the sounds of Johnny being whipped should be held to a minimum - send us (Production Code office) the lyrics to any song Madelon sings - no scenes showing men giving girls money - there can be nothing objectionable in Madelon's costuming, singing or dancing - it is not satisfactory to show Madelon in panties and brasierre and the least she can wear is a slip, with her body covered adequately in all of her scenes - there should be nothing in the dialogue that suggests Madelon has undressed while Johnny is in the room - while Madelon is putting on her stockings there should be no undue exposure of her person nor should her legs be shown above the knees - don't use the "kicking legs" montage - don't imply that Steve and Madelon are engaged in a sex affair - change the shyster lawyer Avery, who cheats'Johnny and his mother out of two thousand dollars, to some other undefined profession - delete "God" from Avery's speech - delete "bumped off" from Steve's speech - please exercise restraint to the kissing in scene 184 - please exercise restraint to the drinking and drunkenness in scene 192 - the girl's speech in scene 197 should not be suggestive of a sex affair between Steve and Madelon - the man's speech about the honeymoon joke in scene 199 is definitely unacceptable and MUST be DELETED - restraint on the kissing between Steve and Madelon in scene 202, and no physical contact between them beyond this scene - delete "damned" in Madelon's speech in scene 203 - delete George's use of the word "mob" in scene 248 - delete Steve and Madelon kissing in scenes 253, 255 and 259 - avoid undue brutality in the fight in scene 267 - avoid undue gruesomeness when Johnny is shot in scene 282."

Breen then starts page 4 off with a lecture: "In scene 295, the whole business of the detective being shot and killed must be deleted in toto. The Production Code prohibits the showing of police dying at the hands of criminals. We recommend that you avoid this shooting entirely by having the detective slugged rather than shot." (A suspicion that the PCA censors wrote more scenes in this period of film-making than the credited writers would not be unfounded.)

Joe winds up by "suggesting" that: "in scene 304 avoid gruesomeness in the shooting death of Terry - in scene 351 change the announcers dialogue to get away from any suggestion that the detective had been killed - change the word "gangster" in scene 311 to "racketeer"", and in scene 323 please avoid gruesomeness in Johnny's death scene." And then Breen advises Kahn that...you will have in mind that our final decision on the acceptability of your story is based upon our review of the finished film."

But he did write "Cordially Yours" above his signature.

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