Dead End Kids::
Gorcey, Dell, Jordan, Punsley, Halop, Hall
After their success in the Broadway play of the same name, The Dead End Kids sprang upon an unsuspecting movie-going public in Samuel Goldwyn's 1937 film Dead End, a crime drama featuring Humphrey Bogart.
The success of this film led Warner Brothers to sign the Kids and feature them in six films which starred such screen luminaries as Ronald Reagan, Pat O'Brien, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, John Garfield and Claude Raines.
The films were the typical Warner fare of serious social/crime dramas with the Kids heavily involved in the plot and also lending some comedy relief. The quality of the films declined until Warner's threw in the towel and the Kids were reborn as the East Side Kids at the king of the poverty row studios, Monogram.
Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell, Billy Halop and Bernard Punsley played the Kids. Despite the fact that they played the same basic roles in every picture, their characters were given different names in many of the films, although Billy Halop was always the leader and featured "Kid" in these movies.
Generally, these films are the best made of any of the four series. Dead End and Angels With Dirty Faces are considered classics of the genre. They Made Me A Criminal is notable for it's strong performance by future superstar, John Garfield. (Garfield would team up with Halop & Jordan in Warner's 1939 Dust Be My Destiny.) The last two Warner's films are pretty bad though.
Dead End Kids Films:
Dead End - 1937 - United Artists
Crime School - 1938 - Warner Brothers
Angels With Dirty Faces - 1938 - Warner Brothers
They Made Me A Criminal - 1939 - Warner Brothers
Hell's Kitchen - 1939 - Warner Brothers
The Angels Wash Their Faces - 1939 - Warner Brothers
On Dress Parade - 1939 - Warner Brothers
Little Tough Guys::
At the same time that Warner's was cranking out the Dead End Kids series and Monogram doing the same with the East Side Kids, Universal Studios signed four of the Kids (Billy Halop, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell and Bernard Punsley) and released a series of mostly bad (OK OK just plain awful!) "B" movies and three 12-part serials. Leo Gorcey's brother, David, was featured in several of these unmemorable films.
Generally, the boys retained the same names throughout the series (except the serials). Billy Halop was first Johnny, then Jimmy before becoming Tommy for the duration. Huntz Hall played Pig, Bernard Punsley played Ape, Gabriel Dell played String. Not all the characters appeared in all the pictures. Dead End Kid Bobby Jordan played Rap in 2 of the films and became Tommy(!) in the last entry in the series.
The first film, Little Tough Guy, bad as it may be, is the best of the lot. It's a social/crime drama in the Warner Brothers style. After this the quality of the films falls right off the chart. I can recommend this series only to die-hard fans of the Boys.
Little Tough Guys Films::
Little Tough Guy - 1938
Call A Messenger - 1939
You're Not So Tough - 1940
Junior G-Men (serial) - 1940
Give Us Wings - 1940
Sea Raiders (serial) - 1941
Hit The Road - 1941
Mob Town - 1941
Junior G-Men Of The Air (serial) - 1942
Tough As They Come - 1942
Mug Town - 1943
Keep 'Em Slugging - 1943
East Side Kids::
Hall, Robert Armstrong, David & Leo Gorcey, Jordan, Stone, Morrison
This series of films by Monogram featured the boys first in crime melodramas with comedic overtones then in comedies with some serious (usually criminal) overtones.
The plots almost always cast the Boys as lower class street urchins in conflict with the criminal element that surrounded them. Occasionally the criminal element was replaced by Nazi or Japanese fifth columnists.
Billy Halop was gone by this time and Leo Gorcey and Bobby Jordan took over as leaders and featured "Kids".
As the series progressed, the comedy duo of Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall became the focus of the films.
Making steady appearances as East Side Kids were:
Leo Gorcey as Mugs (or Muggs)
Huntz Hall as Glimpy
Bobby Jordan as Danny
David Gorcey as Peewee
"Sunshine Sammy" Morrison as Scruno
Donald Haines as Skinny
Billy Benedict later took over the role of Skinny (AKA Benny, Pinky)
Bobby Stone with a variety of names
Gabriel Dell appears in many of the films as a non-gang member, usually an adversary or authority figure.
Dave O'Brien (AKA Mish Mash the Muttonhead from the Pete Smith comedy shorts and star of Reefer Madness) appears in several films.
Other actors cast as East Side Kids include Bennie Bartlett, Harris Berger, Frankie Burke, Hally Chester, Stanley Clements, Johnny Duncan, Dave Durand, Eugen Francis, Buddy Gorman, Mende Koenig and Jimmy Strand
The production values of many of these films are low, even by Monogram standards, although they seemed to get better as the series progressed. A couple of the early films are so bad as to be virtually unwatchable, even by die-hard fans.
There is a 1940 film entitled "East Side Kids" that some feel should be included in the series. Since it doesn't have any of the "Dead End Kids" in it, I feel it should be omitted.
East Side Kids Films::
Boys Of The City - 1940
That Gang Of Mine - 1940
Pride Of The Bowery -
Flying Wild - 1941
Bowery Blitzkrieg - 1941
Spooks Run Wild - 1941
Mr. Wise Guy - 1942
Let's Get Tough - 1942
Smart Alecks - 1942
'Neath Brooklyn Bridge - 1942
Clancy Street Boys - 1943
Ghosts On The Loose -
Mr. Muggs Steps Out -
Kid Dynamite - 1943
Million Dollar Kid - 1944
Follow The Leader - 1944
Block Busters - 1944
Bowery Champs - 1944
Docks Of New York - 1945
Mr. Muggs Rides Again - 1945
Come Out Fighting - 1945
Huntz Hall, Billy Benedict, Leo Gorcey, David Gorcey, Bobby Jordan
This series of comedies found the Boys in a variety of situations, always with the underrated (and critically unappreciated) comedy duo of Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall as the focus. The earlier films (1946-1950) had an overtone of gangster melodrama, while the later films were pure slapstick.
Leo Gorcey began to drink heavily after the death of his father, Bernard Gorcey, in late 1955. In fact, he appears to be intoxicated in his final film, Crashing Las Vegas. The producers of the series replaced Gorcey with former East Side Kid, Stanley Clements, for the last seven films. The chemistry that worked so well between Gorcey and Hall never materialized with Clements and this, along with the fact that the "Boys" were now well into their 30's and the lack of demand for programmer type films such as these due to TV, proved to be the death knell of the series.
Making steady appearances in this series were:
Leo Gorcey as Terrence Aloyius "Slip" Mahoney
Huntz Hall as Horace Debussy "Sach" Jones
Bobby Jordan as Bobby (last film: Bowery Buckaroos - 1947)
Billy Benedict as Whitey
David Gorcey as Chuck
Bennie Bartlett as Butch
Bernard Gorcey as Louie Dumbrowski, proprietor of Louie's Sweet Shop in most of the films.
Gabriel Dell appeared in a variety of roles, once again usually as an authority figure peripherally connected with the gang.
Stanley Clements appeared as Stanislaus "Duke" Coveleske in the last seven pictures.
The production values of these films are far higher than any of the Little Tough Guys and East Side Kids. Most fans agree that the Bowery Boys series is the best of these three.
I feel that Live Wires (which features gigantic tough guy, Mike Mazurki), Mr. Hex and Blues Busters are among the best in this series.
Bowery Boys Films::
Live Wires - 1946
In Fast Company - 1946
Bowery Bombshell - 1946
Spook Busters - 1946
Mr. Hex - 1946
Hard Boiled Mahoney - 1947
News Hounds - 1947
Bowery Buckaroos - 1947
Angels' Alley - 1948
Jinx Money - 1948
Smugglers' Cove - 1948
Trouble Makers - 1948
Fighting Fools - 1949
Hold That Baby! - 1949
Angels In Disguise - 1949
Master Minds - 1949
Blonde Dynamite - 1950
Lucky Losers - 1950
Triple Trouble - 1950
Blues Busters - 1950
Bowery Battalion - 1951
Ghost Chasers - 1951
Let's Go Navy! - 1951
Crazy Over Horses - 1951
Hold That Line - 1952
Here Comes The Marines - 1952
Feudin' Fools - 1952
No Holds Barred - 1952
Jalopy - 1953
Loose In London - 1953
Clipped Wings - 1953
Private Eyes - 1953
Paris Playboys - 1954
Meet The Monsters - 1954
Jungle Gents - 1954
Bowery To Bagdad - 1955
High Society - 1955
Spy Chasers - 1955
Jail Busters - 1955
Dig That Uranium - 1956
Crashing Las Vegas - 1956
Fighting Trouble - 1956
Hot Shots - 1956
Hold That Hypnotist - 1957
Spook Chasers - 1957
Looking For Danger - 1957
Up In Smoke - 1957
In The Money - 1958
Huntz Hall appeared in the most series films.
Surprisingly, it's David Gorcey, not his brother Leo, who comes in second in series' appearances.
Bernard Punsley went on to become a doctor after leaving the series.
Louie's Sweet Shop was located at 3rd Street & Bowery.
Billy Halop had a recuring role as Muntz the cab driver on the TV series All In The Family. He also had bit parts in many other series throughout the 50's, 60's and 70's, including a few bits on my all time favorite series, Perry Mason.
Gabriel Dell and Huntz Hall also made occasional TV appearances.
Huntz Hall appears on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper album by the Beatles.
East Side Kid Hally Chester went on to become a movie producer.
Bela Lugosi, his career already on the skids, appeared in two East Side Kids features, Spooks Run Wild and Ghosts On The Loose.
3 Stooges fans should be on the lookout for Shemp Howard in three of the Little Tough Guys films, Give Us Wings, Hit The Road and Keep 'Em Slugging.
All together, there were 85 films and 3 serials. 7 were Dead End Kids, 12 Little Tough Guys (including the 3 serials), 21 East Side Kids and 48 Bowery Boys. It would take about five days of continuous viewing to see every film and serial!
1941 saw the most films released: seven. Three were Little Tough Guys and four were East Side Kids. 1942 and 1943 came in second with six. 1939, 1940 and 1946 each had five.
Counting the 3 serials, there were 9 films made in the 30's, 47 made in the 40's, 32 in the 50's.
Four different studios produced films in the series: United Artists, Warner Brothers, Universal and Monogram (AKA Allied Artists).