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Hollywood Movie Memories » sylvia sidney

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Dead End

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Dead End (DVD)


Starring – Sylvia Sidney (Drina), Joel McCrea (Dave), Humphrey Bogart (‘Baby Face’ Martin), Wendy Barrie (Kay), Claire Trevor (Francie), & The Dead End Kids

Released – August, 1937

Directed By – William Wyler

Produced By – The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – A lot can happen of the East Side of New York in 24 hours. Along side the luxury apartments built by the wealthy, to take advantage of the picturesque East River, are the filthy tenements that house the poor and destitute.

At the end of the block is a dock on the East River that is the territory of the Dead End Kids, a small gang of youths that are already on their way to a life of crime. Tommy Gordon is the leader of the gang and idolizes Baby Face Martin, a former resident, who has graduated to “full-fledged” mobster.

Tommy has a sister, Drina, who dreams of marrying a rich stranger who will take her and Tommy out of the slum before Tommy turns out no better than Baby Face, who just so happens to have returned to his old stomping ground to visit his mother and old girlfriend.

Dave Connell also lives in the neighborhood. He is a childhood friend of Drina and an unemployed architect who gets by taking odd jobs. Dave is in love with Kay Burton, but not even love is simple here. Kay is a rich man’s mistress who, although she loves Dave, knows that he could never provide her the lifestyle that she desires.

Their hard life is about to get a little harder. Tommy and the gang decide to rough up one of the rich kids who lives in the luxury apartments. The boys father intervenes and Tommy stabs him in the arm and must go into hiding from the police.

As for Baby Face, his mother rejects him due to his life as a gangster. While visiting his former girlfriend Francie, Baby Face is disgusted by her current life. Francie has become a prostitute and is sick with syphilis.

With his homecoming visit a dismal failure, Baby Face Martin decides to kidnap the rich kid for ransom in order to have made his trip somewhat rewarding. From this point on everyone’s life seems destined for disaster.

NOTABLE: Dead End received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Claire Trevor), Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography.

Claire Trevor’s Oscar nomination was a bit of a surprise considering her time on screen was limited to one scene lasting under five minutes.

Director William Wyler had hoped to shoot the film on location, but Producer Samuel Goldwyn insisted it be done in the studio. The result was such a convincing re-creation that Art Director Richard Day received an Oscar nomination.

Although it is clear in the story that the character of Francie is a prostitute suffering from syphilis the censors required that the actual terms of her employment and disease be veiled.

Dead End is based on an original Broadway play that ran for 687 performances.

The role of Baby Face Martin was given to Humphrey Bogart after first being refused by actor George Raft. Bogart was chosen after his performance, a year earlier, in the film The Petrified Forest.

Dead End provided the film debuts of Billy Halop, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Bobby Jordan, Bernard Punsly, Leo Gorcey, David Gorcey. The group would later evolve into The East Side Kids and then the Bowery Boys. In total, they would appear in seven films.



Thursday, October 20th, 2011


Tagline – Two Lovers…Victim’s of Mob Violence!

Starring – Sylvia Sidney (Katherine Grant), Spencer Tracy (Joe Wilson), Walter Abel (District Attorney), Bruce Cabot (Kirby Dawson).

Released – May, 1936

Directed By – Fritz Lang

Produced By –  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – Joe Wilson is in the wrong place at the wrong time. A child has been kidnapped from a town that Joe is passing through on his way to meet his fiance Katherine Grant. As a stranger to the area, with a small shred of circumstantial evidence pointing his way, Joe is arrested for the crime.

The town is buzzing about the stranger in their jail and rumors surrounding the story are getting more exaggerated as they spread. It isn’t long before a mob gathers in front of the jail demanding the prisoner. They intend to hang him.

When the sheriff refuses to turn Joe over to the angry mob they decide to burn the building. It is believed that Joe has died in the fire.

Enraged at the mob’s lawlessness, the district attorney is determined to bring them to justice. Although no one will come forward to identify the members of the mob and the case against them seem hopeless.

Then there is a major break. The prosecutor obtains newsreel footage that clearly displays twenty-two members of the mob. The defense counters that there is no solid proof that Joe was killed in the fire as no burned body was found.

But, there is one piece of defense evidence that troubles Katherine. An anonymous letter has been received with a partially melted ring worn by Joe. The letter has a misspelled word. Misspelled the same way Joe used to misspell it.

It seems to Katherine that Joe may somehow be still alive. Katherine learns that Joe and his brothers have a plan for revenge. The once civilized man is now angry, bitter, and determined to make his would-be killers pay.

NOTABLE: Fury received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Original Story.

In 1995, Fury was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

This film was director Fritz Lang’s first American picture as well as a departure from the usual film’s being produced by MGM at the time. The studio was primarily making lavish musicals and dramas.

The dog taken out of the rain by Spencer Tracy in the beginning of the film to become his traveling companion was named Terry. He would become familiar to everyone in a few years as Toto from The Wizard of Oz.

The script was loosely based on the 1933 real-life kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart in San Jose, California. The two suspects in the crime were pulled from jail by a mob who dragged them across the street and lynched them.