Welcome. The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.
Tonight’s feature is DEAD END (1937), starring Humphrey Bogart. The supporting cast is stellar, Joel McCrea, Sylvia Sidney, Wendy Barrie, and Claire Trevor. Among the faces you will recognize from the era, Allen Jenkins and Marjorie Main.
Interesting note–Lillian Hellman wrote the screenplay. If you are not familiar with Hellman, she was the longtime partner of the great noir novelist, Dashiell Hammett, who wrote The Thin Man, and Red Harvest.
The Dead End Kids are introduced in their intricate East Side slum, overlooked by the apartments of the rich. Their antics, some funny, some vicious, alternate with subplots: unemployed architect Dave is torn between Drina, sweet but equally poor, and Kay, a rich man’s mistress; gangster Baby Face Martin returns to his old neighborhood and finds that nobody is glad to see him. Then violent crime, both juvenile and adult, impacts the neighborhood and its people.
The movie is based on a play by actress and writer, Dorothy Mackaye. Dorothy was not a gangster or a gun moll. She took her inspiration from her time in San Quentin for compounding a felony. The felony was the beating death of her husband, Ray Raymond, by her lover, Paul Kelly.
The fatal Hollywood love triangle was headline news, and I plan to cover it in the book I am working on for the University Press of Kentucky. The subject of the book is crime in Prohibition Los Angeles–one of my favorite topics.
Enjoy the movie!
Dot Burton, an aspiring actress, helps a gang of bank robbers to hold up a bank. The men escape but the police are suspicious of Dot’s actions and arrest her. District Attorney Lewis Sinton asks Dot to turn state’s evidence, but she continues to plead her innocence. Radio broadcaster Kenneth Phillips sees a newspaper article about Dot’s case and broadcasts a statement lambasting the district attorney for arresting her while the real criminals go free.