Dead End

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  • Approved
  • 1937
  • 1 hr 33 min
  • 7.2  (8,380)

Dead End is a 1937 crime drama directed by William Wyler and based on a play of the same name by Sidney Kingsley. The film features an impressive ensemble cast including Sylvia Sidney, Joel McCrea, Humphrey Bogart, Wendy Barrie, Claire Trevor, and more. Set in New York City during the Great Depression, Dead End tells the story of a group of characters from different walks of life whose lives intersect in a single day.

The film revolves around a block of slum tenements in the East River section of New York City, where wealthy tenants used to live but have since departed. The remaining residents include a struggling, unemployed architect (McCrea), and his high school sweetheart (Sidney) who is now married to a gangster (Bogart). Meanwhile, a group of young boys run around the streets, getting into mischief and dreaming of a better life.

Throughout the course of the film, these characters' lives all come together in different ways. As McCrea's character tries to secure a job with a wealthy former employer, he comes into contact with several of the slum's residents. He also must confront the reality of his former love's current situation, which is complicated by her violent husband's involvement in a criminal scheme. In this way, the film offers commentary on the disparities between the rich and poor during the Depression era.

The film explores a number of themes, including social inequality, the disillusionment of youth, and the allure of crime. The titular "dead end" refers to the lack of opportunities for the slum's residents, as well as the sense of hopelessness that pervades their lives. This is particularly evident in the juvenile delinquents who wander the streets, dreaming of the day when they can escape the slums and make it big. The film also touches on the dangers of idolizing criminals, showcasing the negative consequences that come from associating with those involved in illicit activities.

One of the film's most notable features is its impressive use of cinematography. A particularly memorable scene involves Sidney's character gazing out of her window, looking down on the bustling street below. As she does, the camera slowly pans down, revealing the chaos and poverty that surrounds her. This scene, along with others like it, effectively captures the film's bleak tone and stark setting.

The performances in Dead End are also noteworthy. Sidney is particularly compelling as the conflicted love interest, torn between her lingering feelings for her former flame and her loyalty to her dangerous husband. Bogart, who was still years away from achieving leading man status, is just as captivating in his portrayal of the cold-blooded gangster. The film also features a number of strong supporting performances, including Trevor's turn as an aging former beauty queen who has been reduced to prostitution.

In addition to its commentary on social issues, the film also includes a suspenseful plot that keeps viewers engaged throughout. The criminal scheme at the center of the story is intriguing, with a number of twists and turns that keep audiences guessing until the end. This allows the film to function as both a gritty drama and a thrilling crime story.

Overall, Dead End is a skillfully crafted film that effectively captures the desperation and struggles of those living in poverty during the Great Depression. It features strong performances, impressive cinematography, and a suspenseful plot that is sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Though it is over 80 years old, the film's themes and messages continue to resonate with audiences, making it a classic that still holds up today.

Dead End is a 1937 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 33 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2.

Dead End
Where to Watch Dead End
Dead End is available to watch free on Plex, Pluto TV, Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download, buy and rent on demand at Amazon Prime, Vudu and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Dead End for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 33 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (8,380)