Dead End Reviews
A gangster, "Baby Face" returns to New York's Lower East Side, where he grew up. He goes to visit his mum and ex girlfriend, but they are not pleased to see him. He then gets involved in a shootout which claims his life. We also see what the Dead End Kids get up to and they course plenty of trouble. Two of the residents also fall in love with each other.
This movie gives you an idea on what life was like in this period in New York's poorer Lower East Side and the rich peoples' apartments are overlooking this slum area.
The cast includes an excellent performance from Humphrey Bogart as Baby Face and is joined by Sylvia Sydney (Sabotage), western star Joel McCrea, Claire Trevor (Key Largo, which also starred Bogie), Wendy Barrie and a brief appearance by Ward Bond.
Dead End is worth watching, a good way to spend 90 minutes one afternoon or evening.
This film was also a landmark in that it introduced the gang of smart aleck gang of kids known in this film as the Dead End Kids and whom would later go on to make literally dozens of films in various incarnations probably the most famous of which is the Bowery Boys (which is where I first encountered them). Even with this knowledge I was fairly taken aback by the overall dark and depressing nature of the film as it draws a very bleak picture of the poor and their hopes and dreams or lack thereof.
I really enjoyed this picture although I do think some of its points and issues are a tad dated so its not quite as powerful as it was during its debut. With the properties of the very rich literally towering right over the ramshackle tenements of the poor it painted a very real line between the poor and the rich. A large and very clean door opens right into the tenement and acts as a beacon of hope for some, a sign of safety for some, and a temptation of violence for others.
In a particularly telling moment the new love of Joel McCrea (for whom he has recently fallen at the disappointment of an old flame) attempts to visit him in his worn down apartment complex. Leaving the safety of her expensive dwelling she starts to make her way up the stairs and bit by bit she is worn down by the filth and degradation until she finally breaks down and flees the filthy abode in utter fear and immediately runs through the clean doorway to take up safety in the comfort of the rich.
You see, she used to be poor just like them and although her love for Joel is strong, she can't overcome her fear of being that desperately poor again and so she must put aside her feelings and stay with her rich fiance'. Unknown to her Joel as seen her approach and escape and immediately realizes that it's just not to be.
The film features an interlocking array of characters all of whom dramatically affect the fate of one another with their actions bit by bit throughout the film. It all fits together very well and is fairly unflinching in its presentation of these characters. Bogart's gangster character comes back hoping to reconnect with his mother and old flame but the reunion of both is the worst possible outcome. Drina tries to save her brother from becoming more and more of a hardened street thug but she is almost helpless to watch as he becomes caught up in the nightmare of their situation.
In the end it's a very satisfying movie but then I felt something was a little off. For such a rough movie it somewhat tries to back-peddle a bit and soften the blow of the inevitable conflicts and the two main characters are given a somewhat hopeful outlook. Then I saw those giant words plastered on the ending board "Approved by the Movie Board Association" and I realised the date of the film and it all became clear.
Even though it's is a fairly dark film and I admired at how much of a statement they were allowed to make, I realized the Hays Code was in full effect at this point and I had to laugh. Apparently the writers did soften up the remaining main characters a little bit from the stage production and created a more hopeful outlook for them in the end.
Still, I did really enjoy this film and that way in which it immerses the viewer right into the run down Dead End neighborhood and made you live there was really magical and very well done.
Refusing to leave empty-handed, Babyface hatches a plot to kidnap the same rich kid the local kids have just beat up, but the good guy senses that something‚??s up, now that he‚??s no longer big-eyed over the rich girl who had been leading him on (he sees her disgust at the roaches in his apartment building). After a great chase scene in the shadowy hallways and across the dark rooftops and fire-escapes of the slum, our hero shoots Babyface dead, winning rights to a $4800 reward. His rich girl comes back, thrilled that they can live on the money in style for a year (and after that? Who cares, at least she‚??ll get one year of happiness, she says), but he sends her away, at last seeing the beautiful but poor local girl as his honest match, and pledging his reward money to hire a lawyer to keep her little brother (one of the local kids, under arrest for the most innocuous knifing you‚??ve ever seen) out of reform school.
Bogart‚??s heart-broken tough-guy is fantastic, but the movie belongs to the rag-tag kids, who make their own rules and seem to be having a pretty good time, despite their lack of future. Stripped to their shorts for swimming in the filthy river, their narrow chests are big with bombast as they do mocking impressions of the doorman and the rich men and women coming in and out of the fancy-pants building, plunked right in front of their hangout. I‚??d love to see this movie remade today, in gentrifying Harlem or East Williamsburg, though I suppose I‚??m the bad guy now.
Basada en una obra de teatro, la verdad es que la pel√≠cula funciona gracias a la m√°gnifica direcci√≥n de William Wyler y el estupendo dise√Īo de produccion, que consigue crear un barrio que le da amplitud y horizonte a la obra de teatro, consiguiendo que no parezca tratarse de un √ļnico escenario. Wyler consigue aprovechar todas las posibilidades que tiene para darle vida a la historia. Haciendo que los personajes se muevan por todas las zonas posibles del barrio, incluso por diferentes niveles consiguiendo crear una realidad (de estudio eso si) mucho m√°s amplia que la que le dar√≠a la obra de teatro.
Por lo dem√°s, excepto la relacion de Humphrey Bogart con su barrio... las dem√°s historias (los chicos del barrio, Sylvia Sidney y Joel McCrea) se encuentran cargadas de una moralina excesivamente directa y demasiado de "cuento para ni√Īos", como para conseguir ser mucho m√°s que eso... una pura moralina de "el mal paga"... sin embargo, la interpretaci√≥n de Bogart y la manera en que vemos su decepci√≥n reflejada en el rostro vale por muchas historias.
You can view it on Flixster