Dead End

I had a bad day of work, as I thought of how unhappy I was these past two weeks.  I had to wait for a long time for my bus, and I stopped for a hamburger.  I caught the last forty-five minutes of “Fathom” on one of the movie channels on television.  I then watched “Dead End,” the movie from 1937 featuring Joel McCrea and Humphrey Bogart.  Some of the characters seemed amazingly stupid, like the kids who didn’t know how to avoid trouble.  If that rich kid couldn’t see how the gang hated him, he was incredibly blind.  I couldn’t see how Bogart’s character could have the nickname Baby Face.  Maybe the plastic surgery was supposed to explain that.  What was the other movie that also had Bogart’s character going through plastic surgery?  Baby Face was supposed to be a man who had seen the world, but it seemed laughable that he did not suspect what happened to the girl of his youth, Francey.  Nobody could explicitly say what her profession was, or what the reason behind her sickly appearance was.  Sylvia Sidney got top billing as the young woman Drina, attempting to maintain a decent life for herself and her brother.  I saw her performance as not so great.  She went into hysterics and false tears quite a bit.  I thought the Dead End Kids were incredibly annoying.  McCrea’s vigilante turn at the end shows a different time.  The cops don’t even take him in.  I would say that “Dead End” is still a good movie, though not as powerful as it must have seemed back in 1937.  It does have Bogart and McCrea in it.  The director was William Wyler, who made films from 1925 to 1970.  He was nominated for the Best Director Oscar twelve times.  I liked two of his three last films, “How to Steal a Million” and “Funny Girl.”  The director does make a difference.  Wyler worked with Joel McCrea in “Come and Get It,” and he would direct Humphrey Bogart again in “The Desperate Hours.”  Alfred Newman composed the film score, and the cinematography was by Gregg Toland, famous for “Citizen Kane.”  One of Toland’s Oscar nominations was for “Dead End.”  Looking over Sylvia Sidney’s credits, she was in some notable films later in her career, like “Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams,” “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” “Beetlejuice,” and “Mars Attacks!”  She died of cancer in 1999 at age 88.  Claire Trevor won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Key Largo.”  She also appeared in “Stagecoach” and “How to Murder Your Wife.”  She died in 2000 at age 90.  Leo Gorcey, one of the Dead End Kids, was in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” but alcoholism cut short his life.  He died the day before his 52nd birthday in 1969.  Some of the people who died on March 10 include Harriet Tubman (1913), Ray Milland (1986), Lloyd Bridges (1988), Andy Gibb (1988), LaVern Baker (1997), and Corey Haim (2010).  Today is a birthday for Sharon Stone (59) and Chuck Norris (77).

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