Monday, April 11, 2011

On Screen -- Dead End (1937)

Bogart and Trevor

"Dead End" is a tough, gritty drama about life on one of the streets on the East side of New York city in the 30s.  The film depicts the conflict between the tenement dwellers trying to make ends meet and the well-to-do neighbors who quite obviously seem to look down upon them. 

A killer, "Baby Face Martin", on the run returns to his old neighborhood attempting to reconcile with his mother and an old acquaintance, but is not exactly welcomed with open arms.  Martin has a corrupting influence on the local boys, making a life of crime seem glamorous.  "Drina" is a young woman on strike and picketing at her job for better wages in order to be able to move out of the apartment that she shares with "Tommy" her young brother that she's trying to keep from living a life of crime.  "Dave" is an out of work architect who dreams of moving away from the tenements with "Kay", the girlfriend of one of his rich neighbors.  But it's Drina who's actually been in love with Dave for years. 

Joel McCrea stars as "Dave", and Sylvia Sidney as "Drina", with Billy Halop as her brother "Tommy", while Humphrey Bogart steals the show starring as "Baby Face Martin".  The film marks the first on screen appearance of the "Dead End Kids" including Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan, and Leo GorceyMarjorie Main has a couple of brief but memorable appearances as Mrs. Martin, as does Claire Trevor costarring as "Francey".  Essential viewing for any Humphrey Bogart fan.

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