Cast & Crew
In New York City's Lower East Side, Mugs McGinnis, leader of the Eastside Kids gang, practices for his boxing match the next night. In order to raise money, Mugs and the gang go to Nick's pool hall and challenge hall regular Wycoff to a game of pool. Mugs has pre-arranged with gang member Danny to use special chalk for the pool cue so that Wycoff will lose, but Danny is so convinced of Mugs's talent that he does not use the chalk, and Mugs loses the match. When Wycoff insists that Mugs pay off his wager, Mugs hits him in the stomach and leaves. Seeking revenge, Wycoff plots with bookie Tony to eliminate Mugs from the boxing match. The night of the match, Mugs is abducted by a man pretending to be a reporter, who holds him hostage in the back of a car for the duration of the fight. When Mugs does not show up for the match, Danny goes into the ring so that the Eastside Kids will not be disqualified. Although Danny is out of shape, he surprises everyone by winning the match. After Mugs is released, he takes the championship belt from Danny and accuses him of arranging the kidnapping. Mugs continues to harass Danny after he learns that Danny has gotten a job at a garage where he had hoped to work, and that Danny has been dating his sister Ivy. When Danny learns about Wycoff's involvement in Mugs's kidnapping, he tries to tell Mugs, but Mugs ostracizes him from the club. Mugs learns from gang member Scruno's father Jackson that Wycoff works for Tony, who is also Jackson's boss, and the Eastside Kids start a brawl with Tony and his thugs. The Kids are arrested for disturbing the peace, but the judge releases them without a sentence, and gives Tony and his pals six-months jail time for bookmaking. Later, Danny and Ivy compete in a jitterbug contest, but Mugs and his date are declared the winners until the judge discovers that Mugs's partner is a professional dancer. Mugs is disqualified, and the fifty-dollar prize is awarded to Danny and Ivy. Danny reluctantly turns the money over to Mugs after he threatens him. Danny's boss, Gendick, a father figure, advises Danny that he has outgrown boys like Mugs, and that he should enlist in the Army. Danny's mother consents to his enlistment, and he leaves for training camp. Mugs, meanwhile, is moved to enlist when he sees headlines announcing the Nazis' destruction of the entire Czechoslovakian town of Lidice. Mugs's mother refuses to consent because he appears to be enlisting out of competition with Danny. When Danny returns on leave from training, he proposes to Ivy. Mugs tells Danny that he can still be a member of the gang if he helps them steal tires from Gendick, but Danny now refuses to take orders from Mugs. Danny bests Mugs in a fistfight, which alleviates the tensions between the two old friends. Mugs, who always vowed that the man who married his sister would have to beat him first, now renews his friendship with Danny, and he and Glimpy join the service.
Mike Riley's Orchestra
Barney A. Sarecky
The East Side Kids films were made between 1940 and 1945 for producer Sam Katzman, a master at exploitation films who churned out teen-oriented dramas for three decades, ranging from lightweight romantic comedies at MGM to the rock-n-roll musicals of the '50s and psychedelic dramas of the late '60s and early '70s. He corralled several actors from the original Dead End Kids when they ended their string of films at Warner Bros. One portion of the team had gone to Universal for a series of "Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys" movies, leaving Katzman to rename the team. Their first film, East Side Kids (1940), didn't even include trademark members Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall. Gorcey would join the team with the second feature, Boys of the City (1940), while Hall would wait until Bowery Blitzkrieg in 1941 to jump on the bandwagon. Eventually, they would recreate themselves as a more comedy-oriented group, the Bowery Boys, in 1946.
Of course, these troubled teens were already a little long in the tooth when Katzman took them on. Leo Gorcey, the star of both the East Side Kids and Bowery Boys films, was 25 when Kid Dynamite came out. In fact, he would soon marry Kay Mavis, a dancer in the film's musical sequence. By the time he left the series in 1957, he would be pushing forty. And though he would later play his character as a tough but good-hearted dumbbell, for Kid Dynamite Gorcey strived for real drama, playing a bully brought low by his own pride.
Not that the film was all heavy drama. Most of the comedy was handed to Huntz Hall, who would continue as Gorcey's co-star through the '50s. His comic lines were written by rising comedian Morey Amsterdam, himself on the road to television stardom on Broadway Open House and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Like many a B-movie from Hollywood's golden years, Kid Dynamite brought together new talent and veteran performers. Along with Amsterdam, the key actor on the way up was character actress Minerva Urecal, a stand-out in her one scene as a judge. During the '40s, she was the poverty row answer to Marjorie Main, playing a series of comic housekeepers and farm women. With the coming of television, however, she became a star, taking on the title role in the Tugboat Annie series and reigning over Peter Gunn's favorite hangout as Mother. Looking back to a brighter past were silent screen star Jack Mulhall, once a specialist in light, romantic comedy, and slapstick comic 'Snub' Pollard, second banana to Harold Lloyd in some of his biggest hits. But though they were working in low-budget pictures, they still lent a much needed professionalism to films like Kid Dynamite that has kept fans watching for six decades.
Producer: Jack Dietz, Sam Katzman
Director: Wallace Fox
Screenplay: Gerald Schnitzer, Morey Amsterdam, based on "That Old Gang" by Paul Ernst
Cinematography: Mack Stengler
Art Direction: David Milton Music: Edward J. Kay
Cast: Leo Gorcey (Muggs), Huntz Hall (Glimpy McGleavey), Bobby Jordan (Danny Lyons), Gabriel Dell (Harry Wycoff), Pamela Blake (Ivy McGinnis), Benny Bartlett (Beanie Miller), Minerva Urecal (Judge), Jack Mulhall (Clancy), 'Snub' Pollard (Dance Official).
by Frank Miller
The working title of this film was Little Mobsters. According to a news item in Los Angeles Examiner, Ava Gardner was initially borrowed from M-G-M to appear as "Ivy," but because of illness was replaced by Pamela Blake.