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.
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
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.
|1. 1938||Little Tough Guy||None Listed|
|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|
- David Gorcey at IMDb
- Huntz Hall at IMDb
- Gabriel Dell at IMDb
- Billy Halop at IMDb
- Bobby Jordan at IMDb
- Bernard Punsly at IMDb
- Frank Thomas at IMDb
- Billy Benedict at IMDb
- Hally Chester at IMDb
- Harris Berger at IMDb
- Norman Abbott at IMDb
'The Dead End Kids'
|'Little Tough Guys' series
'The East Side Kids'