This saga of the sidewalks of New York must resurrect thoughts of Street Scene (1931) and the Paul Street Boys (1929), and to the Broadway initiates it’ll remind of the legit hit, Dead End. Yet it’s dissimilar.
The almost tragic bravery of ‘Limey’ Freddie Bartholomew to make his roughneck pals, Buck (Jackie Cooper) and Gig (Mickey Rooney), accept him into the fold as a full-fledged little denizen of the Mullberry street sector – overlooking his polished Oxfordian diction and his French and English schooling – one senses is perhaps almost autobiographical in its grim determination.
Freddie takes the rap on sundry escapades without squirming, only to be rebuffed, after having been grudgingly accepted. Unadulterated young mugs, Jackie and Mickey, finally perceive that Claude (alias Limey) has the makin’s even though it almost means the English lad’s life from pneumonia.
The three boys are ideal in their assignments. Cooper is quite a young giant now, qualifying him as the natural gang-leader. Gene Lockhartg as the East Side Babbitt who is still fighting the war for democracy, broadens the role just a shade to put it over. Katherine Alexander is a natural for the wealthy divorcee-mother of Freddie.