BOYS OF THE CITY (1940)
(a.k.a. THE GHOST CREEPS)
Article #1336 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-10-2004
Posting Date: 4-9-2005
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
Featuring Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey, Hal E. Chester
The East Side Kids agree to stay in the country in order to avoid being sent to reform school, but end up getting mixed up in a murder in an old haunted house.
This is probably the earliest movie from the Dead End Kids/East Side Kids/Little Tough Guys/Bowery Boys aggregate series that featured elements of the fantastic; it was released in July of 1940, one month before JUNIOR G-MEN was released. This one was from the East Side Kids, which featured Jordan and Gorcey from the original Dead End Kids, the rest having been placed in the Little Tough Guys series.
This one is still early enough that they could still be called “boys”. They hadn’t entirely made the transition to comedy yet; I only heard one malaprop during the whole movie (“confusion” for “conclusion”), and it didn’t even come from Leo Gorcey. Most of the obvious comedy comes from “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison, who spends most of the movie as a quivering mass of fear, thereby exploiting a rather annoying racial stereotype. It’s pretty standard “old dark house” trappings, with secret passages, people disguising as ghosts, etc. Minerva Urecal steals the movie as a creepy caretaker; she even seems to be channeling Eva Moore from THE OLD DARK HOUSE at times; check out her speech to Inna Gest and see if it doesn’t remind you of a scene from that movie. The East Side Kids would be back in a haunted house in a couple of years with SPOOKS RUN WILD.