Two boyhood friends, Rocky Sullivan and Jerry Connolly have taken different paths in life. After Rocky is arrested he is sent to a juvenile facility and becomes a lifelong tough guy and criminal. Jerry on the other hand goes straight and becomes a Catholic priest ministering to people in the same neighborhood when he and Rocky grew up. When Rocky is released from prison he resumes his criminal lifestyle and becomes much admired by many of the local kids. Worried that the kids will follow Rocky into the criminal world, Jerry works hard to keep them on the straight and narrow. When Rocky is convicted and sentenced to the electric chair, Jerry asks him for one last favor.
The saga of America's dirty faced kids... And the breaks that life won't give them!
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Did You Know?
The story was written by Rowland Brown
as a project for James Cagney
at Grand National Pictures, the independent studio Cagney had signed with in 1936 after winning a breach-of-contract suit against Warner Bros. The original plan had been for Brown to write the full script and direct the film, but when Warners won back Cagney's contract on appeal they bought Brown's story for Cagney but assigned John Wexley
and Warren Duff
to do the screenplay and Michael Curtiz
to direct. See more
In one of the newspapers headlining an article about Rocky kidnapping Frazier, the word 'Kidnapper' is incorrectly spelled with only one P. See more
Jerry, As a Boy
William 'Rocky' Sullivan, as a boy
It's as dead as a door nail around here.
Jerry, As a Boy
The version that opened in Chicago cut Cagney and O'Brien's scene before the execution, so that audiences were left with the impression that Rocky had turned yellow at his execution. The version shown in Australia and New Zealand went even further, cutting the breakdown scene and the Dead End kid's reaction to it. See more
References Dead End
The Sidewalks of New York
Music by Charles Lawlor
Played by the organ grinder during the opening panorama See more