The right size and color and everything! Starring:
Well, if it has that two-fisted tough-guy Garfield and the “Dead End” Kids, it’s got to be some hard, gritty, Warner Brothers action. Who’s directing?
If you fear you’re going to see water-sequences with the Dead End Kids, I understand. But Berkeley goes for Warner Brothers 30s grit here. John’s a boxer; as the movie begins, he’s just knocked out someone, and says he’s brought the world championship back to the US. (Since it’s 1939, the fighter’s name was “Schwimmer,” which is probably a nod towards Max Schmeling, German boxer.)
Who made him a criminal? His manager, who killed a reporter for threatening to expose Garfield for . . . drinking, and being cynical. The manager dies on the lam, and the body’s all twisted up; naturally, the cops mistake the lanky older manager for the short, compact Garfield, and from there on it’s one problem after another.
Obviously, the only way to get out from under the situation is to hang out with the Dead End Kids. In Arizona. I hate the Dead End Kids. They’re like the Jets, except they can’t dance.
Except for. this. there’s a tough cop on the trail, determined to show his superiors that John Garfield isn’t dead. And the cop is:
This calls out for Dramatic Prairie Dog music, doesn’t it?
If there’s anything less natural than the Dead End Kids in Arizona, it’s Claude Rains trying to be a New York Cop. Dig the tough-guy accent:
Claude, we love you, but no. Apparently he knew it was the wrong fit; he tried to back out of the role, but the studio strongarmed him into doing it. Possibly by killing a reporter and framing Claude. Hell, reporters were a dime a dozen in those days.
One more thing: your fears, let me show them to you:
Dead End Kids, underwater. Just as you feared.
Either he couldn't resist, or the studio said LOOK. It's a BUSBY BERKELEY PICTURE. Folks will expect some underwater shots. Find a way to make it work. What do you mean, how? What do I look like, YOU?