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Author Topic: Dead End (1937)  (Read 727 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« on: August 12, 2012, 09:09:06 PM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028773/

Dead End (1937) 9/10

Plot synopsis and cast, courtesy of imdb


The Dead End Kids, an unemployed architect, and gangster Baby Face Martin interact with an East Side neighborhood over one day and night.


Sylvia Sidney    ...   Drina
    Joel McCrea    ...   Dave
    Humphrey Bogart    ...   'Baby Face' Martin
    Wendy Barrie    ...   Kay
    Claire Trevor    ...   Francey
    Allen Jenkins    ...   Hunk
    Marjorie Main    ...   Mrs. Martin
    Billy Halop    ...   Tommy
    Huntz Hall    ...   Dippy
    Bobby Jordan    ...   Angel
    Leo Gorcey    ...   Spit (as Leo B. Gorcey)
    Gabriel Dell    ...   T.B.
    Bernard Punsly    ...   Milty
    Charles Peck    ...   PhilipJames Burke    ...   Mulligan
Ward Bond    ...   Doorman
   Elisabeth Risdon    ...   Mrs. Connell
   Esther Dale    ...   Mrs. Fenner
   George Humbert    ...   Pascagli
   Marcelle Corday    ...   Governess
    Minor Watson    ...   Mr. Griswald

This really is more of a "social consciousness" film than a gangster film.

IMO, Sylvia Sidney delivers one of the greatest performances of all-time by a leading actress.

The movie was nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Supporting Actress (Claire Trevor), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Picture.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2017, 10:59:05 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2017, 11:28:36 PM »

Just saw the movie for the second time, on DVD.

My previous rating of 9/10 was too high, but this is a very good movie. I give it an 8/10. (Of course, ratings often change from one viewing to the next; sometimes you enjoy watching a movie for the first time more than the second time, when you already everything that'll happen. Whatever. This is a very good movie. Ratings are bullshit  Wink )

The screenplay was adapted by Lillian Hellman from a Broadway play of the same name, written by Sidney Kingsley. The kids who appeared in the play also appeared in this, their first movie, and were forever after known as "The Dead End Kids."

The movie takes place over the course of a single day and night, on a "dead end" street on the East River in Manhattan. The street has both upscale apartment buildings and run-down tenements, so the different socioeconomic classes have to interact. The characters include: a gang, the Dead End Kids; Sylvia Sidney plays the sister of the gang's leader, who is raising him alone, while she is out of work because she and her co-workers are on strike; Joel McCrea, an architect by training who can't find a job as an architect and is having to make do with the few dollars he can earn as a housepainter; a wealthy married woman, played by Wendy Barrie (a very pretty girl but speaks way too fast and is therefore not a good actress), who is sleeping with Joel McRea, and competing with Sylvia Sydney for McRea's affections; a wealthy family, including a young boy whom the Dead End kids gang up on; the doorman for the upscale apartment building (Ward Bond); a notorious, wanted gangster (Humphrey Bogart) who grew up in this slum and - after having plastic surgery to change his appearance - is now returning home to visit his mom and childhood sweetheart (Claire Trevor) for the first time in ten years ....

Bogart is just one character out of many - this is more a socially conscious movie than a gangster movie. But it seeks to show the reasons people engage in criminal behavior.
The late 1930's was the heyday of the social-consciousness movie. As I have discussed elsewhere in gangster-film threads: Once the Production Code began being enforced, you couldn't just show and glorify gangsters/criminality, so movies began being released that sought to find the reason, the source, for criminal behavior, essentially showing people as the product of their environment. Rather than just plain bad guys like in THE PUBLIC ENEMY or LITTLE CAESAR, you had movies like ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES, in which James Cagney, who ran just a tad slower than Pat O'Brien, gets caught and sent to reform school and goes in to a life of crime, while O'Brien goes on to become a priest; and THE ROARING TWENTIES, in which Cagney, a returning World War I vet unable to find a job, is lured by Prohibition into criminal behavior as a bootlegger. Similarly, in DEAD END, you know that the kids who grow up in the dirt-poor tenements and hang out on the street all day - their only refuge from the blistering heat is jumping into the filthy East River for a swim - are much more likely to become the next professional gangster (represented by the Humphrey Bogart character) than the rich kid who wears a white suit and white shoes and a gold watch, has braces to straighten his teeth, has a French tutor, and swims in an indoor pool in his home.

ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES has a number of similar plot elememts: the notorious gangster returning to his childhood neighborhood; his reform-schooling seems to have furthered, rather than prevented, his criminal behavior; he sees in the Dead End Kids what he essentially looked like a decade earlier; he tutors the kids in criminality and the kids look up to him.


If you want to buy the DVD: This movie is available on an American Region 1 DVD on Amazon and eBay; there is also,  on eBay, a region-free DVD from Korea. If the Korean one is cheaper, buy it; the discs are basically the same. The Korean DVD package has some Korean writing, but that's all; the movie is in English, the DVD menu is in English; there are subtitles in Korean that you can turn off with one click of your remote, and the English subtitle option is available on both discs. I own both discs. I first bought the Korean one, and then when the American one was released, I bought that one cuz I assumed that the American one must be better. I was wrong. The image quality is almost exactly the same on both discs; it may well be the exact same print. Buy whichever one is cheaper.
The print is decent. I hope they'll release a nice BRD one day. In the meantime, the DVD is decent and available for just a few dollars.





« Last Edit: April 05, 2017, 11:54:28 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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