DEAD END (1937)

The Dead End Kids, an unemployed architect, and gangster Baby Face Martin interact with an East Side neighborhood over one day and night. Baby face Martin return home to see he mother and his girlfriend and finds out people change as well as his neighborhood. Sidney Kingsley based his story of a luxury high-rise built in a neighborhood on a real area of 1930’s New York. The actual “Dead End” was located on East 53rd Street on Manhattan’s East Side. The luxury high-rise depicted in the film is based on The River House, a 26-story Art Deco high-rise erected on 52nd Street in 1931. The 53rd Street tenements were torn down in the late 1940’s to make way for the United Nations complex. The River House still stands today. Although she only appears for one scene that lasts a little under five minutes, Claire Trevor won an Oscar nomination for her performance as Francie, the prostitute. William Wyler originally wanted to film on location on the streets of New York, but producer Samuel Goldwyn insisted that it be made in the studio. Art director Richard Day was assigned to design the sets, and made one of the most convincing and elaborate sets in film history. his was the first appearance of the Dead End Kids who later evolved into the East Side Kids and later the Bowery Boys. Producer Samuel Goldwyn brought the boys – who had appeared in the original Broadway production of the play – to Hollywood to appear in the movie. He later regretted the decision, as the boys ran wild through the studio, destroying property and crashing a truck through the wall of a sound stage. Afterwards, Goldwyn decided not to use the boys again and sold their contract to Warner Brothers. In order to get past the censors, all references to Francey’s “profession” were veiled (although it was mentioned in the original play on which the film was based), even the fact that she was suffering from the late stages of syphilis, which was never mentioned by name. Humphrey Bogart got the role of “Baby Face” Martin after George Raft declined it. An early gangster role for Humphrey Bogart that built on the success of his performance in The Petrified Forest the year before, Bogart’s name appeared below that of Sylvia Sidney’s in the opening credits. This was reversed for any subsequent re-releases. Samuel Goldwyn acquired the rights to Sidney Kingsley’s play for $165,000 – an exorbitant amount of money at the time. The play had been a huge success on Broadway (which is why it commanded such a big fee) and Goldwyn purchased it with the intention of filming it largely uncut, knowing that he would have many run-ins with the Hays Office over the content. Declared one of the ten best films of 1937 by the Film Daily. Film debuts of Billy Halop, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Bobby Jordan, Bernard Punsly, Leo Gorcey, David Gorcey.



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