- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 32 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: March 8, 2005
- Originally Released: 1937
- Label: MGM (Video & DVD)
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
- Close Captioned - English
- Mono - English, Spanish
- Subtitles - French, Spanish, English
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Uncut - 08/01/2005
"[A] captivating social drama of 1937."
Sight and Sound - 09/01/2005
"[A] very effective melodrama....Humphrey Bogart excels....Wyler elicits an equally strong performance from Joel McCrea..."
New York City; the depression. The terraces of the great new apartments of the rich look down into the windows of the tenement poor. A gang of teenagers amuse themselves diving in the river and taunting the son of a rich family. Dave (Joel McCrea) helps Drina (Sylvia Sidney) as she looks after her bother, Tommy (Billy Halop), who is one of the gang. Gangster Baby Face Martin (Humphry Bogart) returns to his old home--but is rejected by his mother (Marjorie Main). Then Martin hatches a plan to make his visit worthwhile.
Like the play it is based on, DEAD END is dominated by its tenement set. Director William Wyler and director of photography Gregg Toland emphasize the contrast between the rich family and the poor tenement dwellers. Although scriptwriter Lillian Hellman had to soften Sidney Kingsley's play, the movie's criticism of the social order is still trenchant. DEAD END is notable for its period detail--Dave rests his arms on a pillow while entertaining himself looking out his window; a policeman beats his baton on the sidewalk to call for help. And it contains a vivid vignette from Claire Trevor as Francey, the girl Martin left behind.
DEAD END is the prototypical social-problem drama about a Manhattan slum in the 1930s. Lillian Hellman's engaging script, based on Sidney Kingsley's hit play, finds the neighborhood residents struggling to get by, some choosing hard work, some taking the easier route of crime. When a gangster starts to hang around his old haunts, he becomes an unwelcome influence on the street kids.
- Theatrical release: August 24, 1937.
- DEAD END was based on Sidney Kinsley's hit Broadway play of the same name. The play ran at the Belasco Theater for 65 weeks. The day after he and William Wyler saw the play, Samuel Goldwyn paid $165,000 for its film rights.
- When DEAD END was produced at the Belasco, it featured an extraordinary set designed by Norman Bel Geddes. Bel Geddes, who was the father of actress Barbara Bel Geddes (star of Max Ophuls's CAUGHT in 1948 and Hitchcock's VERTIGO in 1958), created an entire tenement neighborhood that dead-ended at the East River. Director William Wyler wanted to shoot the film version of the play on location. Producer Samuel Goldwyn disagreed, and art director Richard Day built a huge set that essentially duplicated Bel Geddes's stage set--but on a much larger scale.
- Lillian Hellman, who wrote the script for DEAD END, had to soften it for producer Goldwyn and the censors. In this process, she much enlarged the minor role of Drina, who was eventually played by top-billed Sylvia Sidney.
- Although Sylvia Sidney, Joel McCrea, Humphrey Bogart, and Claire Trevor were billed above them, the real stars of DEAD END proved to be the six youths who had played the tenement gang on Broadway. Huntz Hall, Leo B. Gorcey, Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell, and Bernard Punsly were so well liked in the movie that they became known as the Dead End Kids. They subsequently appeared together in many movies--often with Gorcey's 4-foot 10-inch tall father, Bernard, playing sweetshop owner Louie Dumbrowski. Later they changed the name of the gang to the Bowery Boys.