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Maliejandra

The Dead End Kids

4 posts in this topic

I had the chance to pick up a few of the early Dead End Kids movies and I started to watch Crime School. I have been a Leo Gorcey fan since the first time I saw him in Mannequin, and subsequently in Angels With Dirty Faces and the Bowery Boys movies. However, I am beginning to notice the talents of the other boys as well.

 

Do you have a favorite member of the Dead End Kids? Who and why?

Which movie featuring the Dead End Kids is your favorite?

 

I think that child actors are sometimes underrated, but these boys made careers for themselves that lasted literally decades in some cases. That requires brains (and maybe a little luck), especially because of their naughty antics off-screen.

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. . . Leo Gorcey was Da Leader o' da Pack!

 

I'm a fan of the Dead End Kids, Little Tough Guys, East Side Kids, and Bowery Boys. Angels with Dirty Faces is my favorite DEK flick, primarily because of Jimmy Cagney's unforgettable performance. Second would be the Kids's debut, Dead End. The blazing demise of "Baby Face" Martin (Humphrey Bogart), dying in a "hail of bullets" is a memorable, standout scene in that outstanding 1937 adaptation.

 

Leo Gorcey is, arguably, the most dynamic and charismatic member of the various gangs, although he had stiff "competition" from Billy Halop during the DEK series.

 

Halop (who vocally reminded me of a squeaky-voiced Jerry Lewis in his early career) displayed the same street-wise sass, two-fisted toughness, and "Hell's Kitchen" moxie as did Gorcey. But Halop had the edge on Gorcey, charisma-wise, because he was taller and actually good-looking. Halop also softened his juvenile delinquent image with a redeeming vulnerability that the malicious punks portrayed by the pint-sized, gremlin-faced, inveterately insolent and terminally bellicose Gorcey would contemptuously scoff and spit at.

 

In my opinion, the pairing of Leo Gorcey and moose-faced Huntz Hall, as a comedy duo, was "kismet." They had a "chemistry" that was every bit as natural, distinctive, and winning as their more celebrated contemporaries Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis.

 

You are exactly correct, Maliejandra, regarding the long movie careers enjoyed by some of the DEK. "Low brow" as their antics might have been, vocations that lasted 20, 30, and, in Hall's case, 50 years are nothing to sneeze nor sneer at, especially in the movie biz. It oddly pleases me that both Gorcey and Hall were also savvy businessman in addition to being successful actors, and did not end up in heart-breaking financial straits as did Abbott and Costello.

 

*Please*, TCM, broadcast The Phynx (1970), which features the final cinematic pairing of Gorcey and Hall!

 

As for the other Dead End Kids, I have high regard for Gabriel Dell. Later in his career, Dell was a member of the company of comedians (Tom Posten, Don Knotts, Louis Nye, Dayton Allen) on The Tonight Show during Steve Allen's tenure. I highly prize the 1963 LP Famous Monsters Speak, which featured Gabriel Dell portraying The Frankenstein Monster and (imitating Bela Lugosi) Count Dracula.

 

Bobby Jordan had his own captivating appeal as the most "fragile" urchin of The Dead End Kids. As Jordan matured (and got brawnier), he shared the role of the straight "bad boy turned good" with Gabe Dell in the East Side Kids potboilers. Sadly, he suffered the "curse" of too many child actors: a rough life, alcoholism, and a premature death.

 

The least charismatic of the DEK was Bernard Punsly. His career shift to medicine was a wise decision, in my opinion.

 

Finally, if you are a fan of Leo Gorcey, I highly recommend Gorcey's inimitable memoir Dead End Yells, Wedding Bells, Cockle Shells, and Dizzy Spells and the "Daddy Dearest" bio Me and The Dead End Kid by Leo Gorcey, Jr.

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> {quote:title=macnemo wrote:}{quote} ... I have high regard for Gabriel Dell...

 

So do I. Back in the 1960's I was a teenager working at my first job as an usher at a big movie palace in our city. Gabe was performing in a play for a couple of weeks at a local summer theatre. In the afternoons, he come to the movies. The first time, I recognized him and he was pleased. He came back a couple of more times and after the movie he'd stay a little while and we'd talk about his films. He was the nicest guy you'd want to know. The last day he came in he gave me an autographed photo. I never had a chance to see him again, but I haven't forgotten him.

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I know this thread's been dead, no pun intended actually, for a while, but I was excited to see it. I became a fan of the DEKs ever since I saw them in Angels With Dirty Faces which, I too, think is my favorite of their movies. I have seen Dead End, They Made Me a Fugitive, and several movies of the boys by themselves and am looking forward to seeing The Angels Wash Their Faces on TCM here pretty soon. But there's one movie with Bobby Jordan that I would greatly like to see, but have no success finding it anywhere. Do you know if they ever show it on TCM? It's called Off the Record with Pat O'Brien, Joan Blondell and Jordan. It looks really funny and being a fan of the other two actors as well, I would greatly like to see it. Does anybody know where I could find it?

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