Little Tough Guys

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The Little Tough Guys (later billed as 'The Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys') were a group of actors who made a series of films and serials released by Universal Studios from 1938 through 1943. Many of them were originally part of The Dead End Kids, and several of them later became members of The East Side Kids and The Bowery Boys.

History[edit]

Main article: Dead End Kids

The urban drama Dead End became both a successful play and a hit movie, featuring six young actors playing streetwise guttersnipes: Billy Halop, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Bobby Jordan, and Bernard Punsly. The troupe became known as The Dead End Kids and starred in a series of features for Warner Brothers.

Little Tough Guys[edit]

In 1938, Universal borrowed the Dead End Kids (except Gorcey and Jordan) for a juvenile-delinquency drama called Little Tough Guy. Universal adopted this as a brand name, and turned the film into a series of 'Little Tough Guys' features. The studio filled out the cast with David Gorcey (Leo's younger brother) and Hally Chester.

The next three films did not include any of the original Dead End Kids. Little Tough Guys in Society (1939) was more of a lightweight comedy, while the next two, Newsboys' Home and Code of the Streets (1939), were more dramatic. Jackie Cooper starred in Newsboys' Home, but was not a member of the team. Only David Gorcey and Hally Chester remained from the first film, Little Tough Guy. This was the beginning of the members of the team changing on almost a film-to-film basis. Eleven actors drifted in and out of the series, including Frankie Thomas, Charles Duncan (who was originally hired to play Leo Gorcey's role in the play Dead End), and Billy Benedict.

When Warners released Bobby Jordan from his contract, Universal quickly signed him to join the rest of gang. Now, with five of the original six Dead End Kids on the payroll, Universal revised the billing to read "The Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys". In total, the Little Tough Guys made 12 feature films, and three 12-chapter serials. Leading player Halop joined the armed forces and was replaced by Jordan for the final film in the series, Keep 'Em Slugging, released in 1943.

Shemp Howard of the Three Stooges appeared in Give Us Wings, Hit The Road and Keep 'Em Slugging. Huntz Hall cited Howard as a major influence when his later "Bowery Boys" series shifted to all-out slapstick comedy.

There was still a market for these tough-teen films, and most of the Little Tough Guys principals wound up at Monogram Pictures as The East Side Kids and The Bowery Boys; see these Wikipedia entries for notes.

Filmography[edit]

Year Movie Team Name Notes
1. 1938 Little Tough Guy The 'Dead End' Kids
2. 1938 Little Tough Guys in Society Little Tough Guys
3. 1939 Newsboys' Home Little Tough Guys
4. 1939 Code of the Streets Little Tough Guys
5. 1939 Call a Messenger Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys
6. 1940 You're Not So Tough Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys
7. 1940 Junior G-Men Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys 12-Chapter Serial
8. 1940 Give Us Wings Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys
9. 1941 Hit the Road Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys
10. 1941 Sea Raiders Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys 12-Chapter Serial
11. 1941 Mob Town Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys
12. 1942 Junior G-Men of the Air Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys 12-Chapter Serial
13. 1942 Tough As They Come Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys
14. 1943 Mug Town Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys
15. 1943 Keep 'Em Slugging Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
'The Dead End Kids'
1937-1939
'Little Tough Guys' series
1938-1943
Succeeded by
'The East Side Kids'
1940-1945