After the success of The Dead End Kids movies, producer Sam Katzman hired several second tier Dead End Kids to star in their own series, The East Side Kids. This was their first film under their new moniker.
Knuckles Dolan (David O’Brien from Reefer Madness) is in trouble with the law and his kid brother Danny (Harris Berger) is on the same path. He gets a concerned police officer (Leon Ames) to help get Danny’s gang of miscreants off the streets by opening a gym for them to all hang out in. To keep them away from a life of crime he makes the kids all Junior G-Men and they help foil a gang of no good counterfeiters.
Hardcore fans of the Dead End Kids/Bowery Boys will enjoy seeing this early, obscure entry, but I was severely disappointed because the group’s big guns Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and Bobby Jordan are sorely missing. To me, making an East Side Kids movie WITHOUT Gorcey and Hall is like making an Abbott and Costello movie WITHOUT Abbott and Costello. As a result, there’s hardly any comedy and the “plot” is paper thin. The ending is also needlessly depressing.
The kids in this batch of East Side Kids are OK I guess, but they lack the personality and chemistry that Gorcey and Hall had. At least Gorcey appeared in the series’ next film Boys of the City.