|Directed by||Lewis Seiler|
|Written by||Crane Wilbur|
|Produced by||Bryan Foy|
|Edited by||Terry Morse|
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
A junkman does business with the Dead End Kids: Frankie, Squirt, Spike, Goofy, Fats, and Bugs. When the boys ask for a $20 payoff, "Junkie" says "Five is all you'll get. Now take it and get out of here." In a rage, Spike strikes the man in the back of the head with a hard object, and the junkman falls to the floor and doesn't move. When Judge Clinton cannot convince the boys to divulge which one struck the damaging blow, they are all sent to reform school.
The harsh warden of the reformatory, Morgan, inflicts discipline at the school and flogs Frankie after he tries to escape. The superintendent of the state reformatories, Mark Braden, visits the school and finds evidence of Morgan's subtle cruelty, as in feeding his new inmates poor-quality food. He then visits Frankie in the hospital ward, finding him untreated and the doctor inebriated. As a way of starting over, he fires the doctor, Morgan, and four ex-convict guards, while retaining the head guard, Cooper. Braden takes charge of the reformatory himself and wins over the boys' cooperation by considerate treatment, while romancing Frankie's sister, Sue Warren.
Meanwhile, Cooper is afraid that Braden will learn of Morgan's embezzlement of the food budget, which would implicate him as well. He learns that Spike is the one who dealt the blow to the junkman and blackmails him. He gets him to tell Frankie that Braden's generous treatment is due to his sister's acceptance of Braden's attentions. Although untrue, it causes the kids to escape from the school in Cooper's car with his gun. They go to Sue's apartment, and Frankie climbs the fire escape with the gun to confront Braden, but Sue and Braden dispel Frankie's suspicions.
Meanwhile, Cooper "discovers" that the kids have escaped, and Morgan calls the press to discredit Braden and get him fired. But, Braden drives the boys back to the reformatory and gets them into their beds, before the Commissioner, alerted by Morgan, arrives for an inspection with the police in tow. Their plot foiled and their fraud uncovered, Morgan and Cooper are arrested. The boys are subsequently paroled into the care of their parents.
The Dead End Kids
- Billy Halop as Frankie Warren
- Bobby Jordan as Lester "Squirt" Smith
- Huntz Hall as Richard "Goofy" Slade
- Leo Gorcey as Charles "Spike" Hawkins
- Bernard Punsly as George "Fats" Papadopolos
- Gabriel Dell as Timothy "Bugs" Burke
- Humphrey Bogart as Deputy Commissioner Mark Braden
- Gale Page as Sue Warren
- George Offerman, Jr. as Red
- Weldon Heyburn as Cooper
- Cy Kendall as Morgan
- Charles Trowbridge as Judge Clinton
- Spencer Charters as Old Doctor
- Donald Briggs as New Doctor
- Frank Jaquet as Commissioner
- Helen MacKellar as Mrs. Burke
- Al Bridge as Mr. Burke
- Sibyl Harris as Mrs. Hawkins
- Paul Porcasi as Nick Papadopolos
- Frank Otto as Junkie
- Ed Gargan as Officer Hogan
- James B. Carson as Schwartz
- Hally Chester as Boy
- As this was a Warner Bros. film and not a United Artists' film like Dead End, they advertised the kids as 'The Crime School Kids' in this film, and their next, Angels with Dirty Faces. However, the name did not catch on and they remained 'The Dead End Kids'.
- Before the film was released, Halop, Dell, Hall, and Punsly were released from their contracts by Warner Brothers and they went on to make a film at Universal, Little Tough Guy. The success of this film caused Warner to reconsider and they were rehired at a substantial raise.
- The Dead End Kids received top billing over Humphrey Bogart for Crime School, with their typeface also larger than Bogart's in posters and advertising.
Warner Archives released the film on made to order DVD in the United States on August 4, 2009.
- Hayes, David and Brent Walker (1984). The Films of The Bowery Boys. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press.