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The Devil is a Sissy
While Samuel Goldwyn has been mulling over plans for his film version of Sidney Kingsley's "Dead End," Metro has skipped ahead with its own picture of crime and environment walking hand-in-hand down the streets of the lower East Side. "The Devil Is a Sissy," having a soft-hearted plot at its core, is not as ruthless as the Kingsley play in its examination of gangster-breeding, but within its optimistic limits the Capitol's new film contains a shrewd understanding and vivid portrait of the little men of Mulberry Street.
Rowland "Brown's story is of three boys—two of them part of the East Side street scene, the third an English lad whose parents are divorced and who has come to spend an allotted six months with his father, an architect. No part of the sprawling, lusty New World is more wonderful to the impressionable rich woman's son than the two fellows he meets in his first day at public school. One is Gig Stevens, whose sire is to be executed that night for a slight case of murder. "It took four jolts to kill him—that's more than it takes to run this street car!" Gig was to say, hitching to school the following day. The other is Buck Murphy, captain of the football team and leader of the gang which has rendezvous in a discarded automobile in a second-hand tire dealer's yard.
In a glow of emulation, the carefully reared English boy fights his way into their condescending circle, delightedly accepts the nickname "Limey" and learns that the one unpardonable sin is "squealing." When Gig must have $80 to buy a tombstone, with an angel on it, for the late Mr. Red Stevens, Limey does not question the need but only the means of satisfying it. Gig and Buck have been stealing tires; he convinces them that Raffles had a better system, and he leads them into a seeming burglary of a Park Avenue home which brings them, unfortunately, into Juvenile Court. There is more to it than this, but the lesson is drilled home; it takes a tough guy to go straight; the devil is a sissy because he couldn't stand the gaff.
Although the film slips off into familiar and lachrymal grooves toward its conclusion, it is fresh and crisp and natural most of the way, and it has been served extraordinarily well by its cast. Freddie Bartholomew is naturally meant for the role of Limey. Jackie Cooper—and how the boy is growing!—does a workmanlike job with Buck. But it is Mickey Rooney, the Puck of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," who penetrates beyond the script and emerges as a living study of Gig, the son of a murderer. His is, without question, one of the finest performances of the year. On the adult side, there are admirable contributions by Ian Hunter, the sparkling Peggy Conklin, Gene Lockhart, Katharine Alexander, Jonathan Hale, Dorothy Peterson and Etienne Girardot.
To complete the account, there is need only to add that the film has been directed by the same W. S. Van Dyke who filmed "Eskimo," "The Thin Man," "Rose Marie," "The Great Ziegfeld" and "San Francisco." That, in itself, should be assurance enough of a thoroughly entertaining picture.
THE DEVIL IS A SISSY, from a story by Rowland Brown; screen play by John Lee Mahin and Richard Schayer; music and lyrics by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, directed by W. S. Van Dyke; produced by Frank Davis for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At the Capitol.
Claude . . . . . Freddie Bartholomew
"Buck" Murphy . . . . . Jackie Cooper
"Gig" Stevens . . . . . Mickey Rooney
Jay Pierce . . . . . Ian Hunter
Rose . . . . . Peggy Conklin
Hilda Pierce . . . . . Katharine Alexander
Mrs. Stevens . . . . . Dorothy Peterson
Mr. Murphy . . . . . Gene Lockhart
Mrs. Murphy . . . . . Kathleen Lockhart
Judge Holmes . . . . . Jonathan Hale
Principal . . . . . Etienne Girardot
"Bugs" . . . . . Sherwood Bailey
"Six-Toes" . . . . . Buster Slavin
Paul Krumpp . . . . . Grant Mitchell
Willie . . . . . Harold Huber
Joe . . . . . Stanley Fields
"Grandma" . . . . . Frank Puglia
Molly . . . . . Etta McDaniels
FRANK S. NUGENT New York Times 17 October 1936
Welcome to my bad day (part 3 of 7) A.K.A. South Bay MINI sucks.
AAA tows me to the Firestone near my apartment, who then informs me that they don't carry the MINI Cooper tires and they can't help me. So I call the MINI dealer near my work (South Bay MINI = assholes) since I have to go to work eventually and they said they in fact had the tire, but they would not have time to change the tire for FIVE DAYS. I pointed out to them I wouldn't have a car for 5 days and that would make it hard for me to live my life, and they said "well, what do you want US to do?" Then they offered to let me call my own tow truck, have the car towed down there, and they would store it in their service area for 5 days before changing the tire. What, to keep it out of my hair? What a generous offer. I almost asked them if I could take the bus there, have them give me the tire, and I would change the thing myself, but I was so mad I just hung up on them.
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