Hell's Kitchen (1939) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
7 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
A good Dead End Kids melodrama.
youroldpaljim17 February 2001
The Dead End Kids are unfortunate residents of the crookedly run Hudson Boys Shelter. Paroled gangster Buck Ceaser is advised by his lawyer nephew that making a contribution to the shelter would be good for his image. For a while conditions at the shelter improve, but Krispen, the shelters warden, fears the contributions from Caeser might raise suspicion, and lead to an audit. An audit is the last thing Krispen wants. Krispen fears an audit would certainly expose his clever graft scheme. Krispen arranges for Ceaser to get into a fight, thus violating his parole. With Caeser out of the way, Krispen returns to his iron fist rule over the boys. Krispens favorite punishment is locking unruly boys in "the cooler." When Joey (Bobby Jorden) causes Krispens wrath, he locks Joey in the cooler. Joey, a weak sickly boy dies as result of his stretch in the cooler. Krispen arranges a private funeral. At the funeral the arrogant Krispen delivers an eulogy that blames the boys. This causes the boys to revolt and take control of the shelter. The boys put Krispen on a mock trial. The Verdict: Krispen is to "join Joey." This is my favorite Dead End Kids film. The boys are all in top form and they overshadow the films star lead Ronald Reagan. Frankie Burke, who played James Cagney as a boy in ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES, plays a member of the gang in this one. His resemblance to James Cagney was uncanny.
13 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good Remake
Michael_Elliott27 February 2008
Hell's Kitchen (1939)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

The Dead End Kids star in this remake of The Mayor of Hell and Crime School. This time out (again) a gangster (Stanley Fields) gets out of going to prison but he must do good in the community so he gets involved with a reform school where he soon learns that the owner is abusing the boys. If you've seen either of the previous versions then you won't be shocked by anything that happens here but Fields is good enough to raise the material to a watchable level. There's several failed attempts at humor, which brings the film down some but the drama is pretty strong throughout. Ronald Reagan plays Fields lawyer.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Warner crime melodrama is similar to "Angels Wash Their Faces"...
Doylenf24 August 2007
Once again RONALD REAGAN is involved with The Dead End Kids, only this time the romantic interest is supplied by MARGARET LINDSAY rather than ANN SHERIDAN. Otherwise, the plot here resembles the studio's other Dead End Kids entry, ANGELS WASH THEIR FACES produced the same year, in that the Kids put the bad man on trial and eventually put him out of business.

GRANT WITHERS is the corrupt principal of a reform school who uses dirty tactics to keep his kids in line, even to the point of punishing a sick kid who fails to survive solitary confinement. It's up to Ronald Reagan, on the good side of the law with Margaret Lindsay, to urge the boys not to take vigilante justice.

Warner Bros. apparently intended this to be a showcase, not for Reagan or Lindsay, but The Dead End Kids who get all the prominence in the script. It's all got a familiar ring, but is directed in brisk style by Lewis Seiler and is lively enough to hold the interest.

Nevertheless, it never rises above the ordinary and the overall impression is that of a formula crime melodrama, the kind that Warners churned out pretty frequently in the late '30s and early '40s.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Cashing In On Boys Town
bkoganbing5 March 2009
The first of two films in which Ronald Reagan was featured with the Dead End Kids was Hell's Kitchen where after one stint of time in reform school in Crime School, the boys are back in the juvenile joint. The adult players take a distinct back seat to the boys in both these films.

Crime School was an out and out remake of the James Cagney classic The Mayor Of Hell and this one also has aspects of those films in it as well. We've got a self righteous warden of the school in Grant Mitchell who's once again skimming off the tops and treating the kids like dirt. His infamous cooler is an old meat locker where he locks the kids in to 'cool' them off. When one of them dies, it all hits the fan.

Challenging him for control of the institution is paroled racketeer, Stanley Fields who is playing his role like a cut rate Wallace Beery. Ronald Reagan is his nephew and Margaret Lindsay is the secretary of the school under Mitchell and who is ready to quit when Caesar arrives on the scene.

Jack Warner must have really been in a bind here because he even acknowledges a hit film from another studio. One of the reforms that Fields wants to bring in is a kind of self governing institution by the kids like Father Flanagan's Boys Town. In fact I'm sure that's why this film was made, to cash in on the success of Boys Town.

No Oscar winning performances here though like Spencer Tracy's. Still it's entertaining enough.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A rare case where I liked the remake a bit more...and that IS rare!
MartinHafer21 September 2016
The fact that this is a remake of a 1933 film and a reworking of a film made in 1938 is not that unusual for Warner Brothers. Often they remade films only a year or two or three later. Other studios often did the same but Warner seemed to do it a lot.

In spite of this being a remake, and I usually hate remakes, I found I enjoyed this every bit as much as the other two films--perhaps a little more. This is because instead of the tough guys Cagney or Bogart playing the lead, this one had Stanley Fields who brought an entirely different element. He was much larger and scarier looking but also had a comedic edge to him--sort of like a big criminal teddy bear!! The only part that didn't work for me was the whole hockey team angle--that was weird and the street kids seemed practically like champion skaters almost immediately! Still, this is an enjoyable Warner film and another chance to see the early (and best) incarnation of the Dead End Kids--a group that morphed and changed a lot over the years as the East Side Kids and the Bowery Boys (which were almost like a parody of the Dead End Kids). Well worth seeing.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Well Done "Dead End" Entry
dougdoepke12 October 2016
Dead End kids may get the billing, but it's really Stanley Fields' (Buck) movie. A Wallace Beery look-a-like, his fractured English and Runyonesque manner hit the right notes for what is really a soft hearted gangster. Seems he's got to help out at a boy's home or he's off probation and into the slammer. Trouble is the boys' home is run by cruel supervisor Krispan (Grant Mitchell in a fine performance), who's also skimming money from donors. So Buck uses gang money to buy in and run the home in a more humane manner. But the scheming Krispan's got other ideas.

The subplot here is interesting since it's the wayward boys and the soft-hearted gangster who come across as humane and just, while the politically connected, respectable guy is the real crook. It's sort of a reversal of what is usually expected, but perhaps not unusual for the restive 1930's.

Anyway, Bobby Jordan (Tony) shows his chops in a nicely calibrated emotional scene, while Gorcey (Gyp) does his tough guy bit, and Halop shows leadership abilities. Surprisingly, Huntz Hall (Bingo) has a secondary, non-comedic role, unlike his later dominating role in the long- running series. Reagan fans may be disappointed since his is also a secondary role, but at least he gets the girl as played by the fetching Margaret Lindsey.

All in all, the movie's an entertaining combo of serious themes seasoned with humor. However that hokey hockey game looked anything but real since there was neither officiating nor penalties for roughhousing. But that's a relatively minor point in an otherwise well executed production.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Dead End Kids Rise Again
wes-connors24 August 2007
The Dean End Kids are fine - Led by Billy Halop, the "kids" perform well. In fact, they are better in this "juvenile delinquent" genre than many others. Mr. Halop is strong, with Leo Gorcey, Gabe Dell and the others; they work well as a team. It looks like Bobby Jordan is directed (Lewis Seiler) to overplay, but he is endearing.

The "Adults" are not so good. Stanley Fields is okay, but his performance doesn't belong in this movie. Ronald Reagan isn't very good, with a performance that may not belong in any movie. Margaret Lindsay is pretty. Some of the performances are inappropriately comic.

There is a reference in this film to MGM's "Boys Town" (1938), which invites comparisons. It's direct enough for anyone who as seen the "Boys Town" films. The character played by Ms. Lindsay wants to use the techniques successfully employed by Spencer Tracy's character on the "Dead End" kids of "Hell's Kitchen".

The studio took the cheaper route with the "Dead End" series, obviously. The film is not technically competent. For example, a great "West Side Story"-type moment is ruined when the chanting on the soundtrack doesn't match the marching Dead Enders. Actors don't know how to play their parts - or don't play their parts at all. Still, the Dead End Kids make it enjoyable. Their terrific "Trial" for Headmaster Grant Mitchell is a most complete summation of the American justice system. Through all the bad editing, you'll get some suspense and action, too - including a "foul" hockey game, and a fire.

***** Hell's Kitchen (7/3/39) Lewis Seiler ~ Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey
3 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed