Film Review: Crime School (1938)

Release Date: May 10th, 1938 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Lewis Seiler
Written by: Crane Wilbur, Vincent Sherman
Music by: Max Steiner
Cast: The Dead End Kids, Humphrey Bogart, Gale Page, George Offerman Jr., Weldon Heyburn, Cy Kendall

Warner Bros., 86 Minutes

Review:

“Those guards you fired were valuable men. Whatta you want to replace them with? A crew of schoolteachers?” – Morgan, “Maybe you got things just a little twisted, Morgan. This is a school you’re running and not a prison. You’re dealing with kids, not hardened criminals!” – Mark Braden

I never really watched any of the Dead End Kids movies but my mum always liked them. I was aware of who they were but they just seemed like an older, unfunny Little Rascals to me.

However, while trying to clear out my queue on FilmStruck before it closed down, I was hitting all the Humphrey Bogart movies I could, so that brought me to this.

I actually liked this picture and not just because it features Bogart in a prominent role.

The Dead End Kids aren’t as kiddish and comedic as the Little Rascals or other similar groups. It’s certainly a familiar shtick but the tone of this film is mostly serious and has a much harder edge than I expected. In fact, the kids are straight up juvenile criminals and you even believe them to have killed a man, until it’s revealed by dialogue later that the guy they bludgeoned nearly to death, survived the attack.

Anyway, this sends them all to juvenile detention for two years but luckily for them, it is at the beginning of Bogart’s tenure, where he is a stand up guy that is actually trying to reform these boys and not set them up for failure and a life of crime.

The film examines the criminal justice system pretty good for its day. And really, the story is relevant today, as criminal rehabilitation is still a joke.

I liked the message of the movie and what it was trying to convey and I thought that it played out nice on screen. Bogart’s Mark Braden did everything he could to help the kids, even if his actions at the end of the film were a bit criminal too.

The kids weren’t too annoying, Bogart was superb and I thought that his leading lady, Gale Page, was also quite good and pretty lovable.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Dead End Kids movies, as well as other Bogart crime pictures.

Film Review: The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Release Date: October 7th, 1938
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder, Alma Reville
Based on: The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White
Music by: Louis Levy, Charles Williams (both uncredited)
Cast: Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty

Gainsborough Pictures, Gaumont British, United Artists, 97 Minutes

Review:

“I’ve no regrets. I’ve been everywhere and done everything. I’ve eaten caviar at Cannes, sausage rolls at the dogs. I’ve played baccarat at Biarritz and darts with the rural dean. What is there left for me but marriage?” – Iris Henderson

This was one of the last British pictures that Alfred Hitchcock did before coming to Hollywood to ply his trade for a larger audience. It is also considered to be in his upper echelon. While I enjoy it, to me, it isn’t on the same level as most of his stuff from the 1950s and early 1960s.

The story is a mystery but even for 1930s standards, the mystery element of the plot seems a bit far fetched.

A young woman meets a nice old woman. While on a train, the old woman goes missing. The young woman asks everyone on the train about the older woman’s whereabouts but everyone denies that such a woman was even on the train. Of course, the younger woman is not delusional. Everyone on the train that denies seeing the older woman is lying. The problem is that everyone lying has their own personal reasons for doing so. So there isn’t a big conspiracy, it’s just a big strange coincidence with a lot of extra layers.

The bulk of the picture deals with the mystery part of the story. Although, there is an entertaining twenty minutes or so before the characters even get on the train and then the film is capped off with a confrontation with soldiers. A spy element is introduced to the plot, as well.

This is a good picture, despite my complaints with the narrative. Everyone else really seems to love the movie but I just can’t put it up there with Hitchcock’s better work.

Although, I did enjoy that the main girl in this Hitchcock picture was actually a brunette for a change.

Plus, the miniature work in the opening shot was really well executed.

Rating: 7/10