This shallow review demonstrates no knowledge of film history, no appreciation for the fine performances and the stunning cinematography of Gregg Toland, and no understanding of the social significance of the excellent script by Lillian Hellman. The author clearly has an axe to grind, but no axe.
Time Out saysA muscle-bound Goldwyn production with an inflated reputation, interesting now chiefly in that, transposed virtually intact from the stage, it lets you see what the original Broadway production of Sidney Kingsley's play must have been like; particularly fascinating is the composite set which makes a metaphor of the rich man's terraces overhanging the slums. The social thesis (deprived backgrounds may make criminals, but they can make good guys and padres too) is familiar from countless problem pictures of the period, and the Dead End Kids are about as menacingly streetwise as Shirley Temple in her naughtier moods. Cruising along like a well-oiled machine tended by an excellent cast, it remains highly watchable, even if the basic mawkishness - in evidence everywhere from the rhyming of Sidney's dewy-eyed good girl with Trevor's ravaged bad one, down to the fact that Bogart's gangster is risking his neck to see mom one more time (she slaps him and sends him packing, true, but that just adds to the pity of it all) - keeps sticking in the craw.