Cast & Crew
Newspaper publisher Sam Winston is angered when his flighty daughter Gloria jilts her fiancé, stockbrocker Tom Pembroke, for the third time. Sam's socially ambitious, glamour-seeking wife Constance supports Gloria's decision, while his drunken son Jerry cares only about his own pleasure pursuits. Fed up with his family's selfishness and neglect, Sam decides to hire racketeer Johnny April to kill him. Johnny, who has just been released from prison, comes to Sam's office to sell him "protection," and at first rejects his offer of $25,000 to kill him. Sam insists that he is too afraid to commit suicide, but will hire someone else if Johnny does not accept the job. Intrigued by Sam's motives, Johnny acquiesces and spends the rest of the day with Sam to learn his habits. Sam visits his doctor, womanizing Robert Kenton, and through the doctor's paperwork, Johnny realizes that Constance is carrying on a flirtation with Kenton. At Sam's home, Johnny meets Jerry and Constance, who makes Sam eat in the library to keep him out of sight of her society friends. By the time Johnny leaves, he and Sam have become friends, and he decides that Sam deserves better treatment from his family. Determined to sort out the situation, Johnny visits Kenton the next day and threatens to harm him if he does not stop seeing Constance. That evening, Johnny tricks Gloria into meeting him at his apartment, and tells her what a spoiled brat she is. Despite his frank talk and criminal past, Gloria is attracted to Johnny, and he quickly reciprocates her feelings. After Gloria falls asleep on the couch, Johnny receives a call from his business manager, Ramsey Fehsel, who informs him that Kenton has been murdered, and that his nurse has accused Johnny of committing the crime. Fehsel demands $25,000 to organize Johnny's defense, and Johnny reluctantly states that he can raise the money soon. The next day, Sam receives anonymous instructions to drive to a remote location and, assuming that it is Johnny summoning him to his death, bids farewell to Constance. She is too busy grieving for Kenton to notice, but later, after Sam has disappeared, Constance, Gloria and Jerry are worried. Finally realizing how much they love and need Sam, the family becomes desperate to get him back, as they believe he has been kidnapped. Gloria appeals to Johnny for help, and he promises to do what he can. Johnny then goes to the farm where he has sent Sam for safekeeping, and Sam assures him that he is very content. When he learns that Jerry has gotten a job, and that Constance and Gloria have vowed to reform, Sam insists that he wants to live, and Johnny escorts him home. Sam offers to give Johnny anything he desires, but hesitates when Johnny states that he and Gloria are in love and want to be married. Sam's reluctance prompts Johnny to realize that he and Gloria are too different to have a happy life together, and that night, when Gloria comes to his apartment, Johnny rudely breaks off their relationship. Johnny is cleared of Kenton's murder, for which the nurse was responsible, and soon after, Gloria reconciles with Tom and marries him. Sam smiles as he sees Johnny leave the wedding, and in the hallway, Johnny telephones his former girl friend.
According to an April 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item, Republic originally wanted to title this film The East Side Kid, but was prevented from doing so because of the "use by both Universal and Monogram of similar titles." Although Hollywood Reporter production charts include Howard Banks, Richard Graham and Vivian Mason in the cast of the film, their participation in the completed picture has not been confirmed. The West Side Kid bears a strong resemblance in plot to a 1934 Liberty picture entitled No Ransom, which was based on a short story by Damon Runyon, as well as to a 1934 First National production entitled A Very Honorable Guy, which was also based on a story by Runyon (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3615 and F3.4910).