9 user 3 critic

Boy Slaves (1939)

Passed | | Action, Adventure, Crime | 2 February 1939 (USA)
A runaway follows the leader of a gang of boys, and they all wind up working in a turpentine camp.


P.J. Wolfson


Albert Bein (screen play), B. Harrison Orkow (screen play) (as Ben Orkow) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Anne Shirley ... Annie
Roger Daniel ... Jesse
James McCallion ... Tim
Alan Baxter ... Graff
Johnny Fitzgerald Johnny Fitzgerald ... Knuckles
Walter Ward Walter Ward ... Miser
Charles Powers Charles Powers ... Lollie
Walter Tetley Walter Tetley ... Pee Wee
Frank Malo Frank Malo ... Tommy
Paul White Paul White ... Atlas
Arthur Hohl ... Sheriff
Charles Lane ... Albee
Norman Willis ... Drift Boss
Roy Gordon Roy Gordon ... Judge


A runaway follows the leader of a gang of boys, and they all wind up working in a turpentine camp.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SOLD - Human Beings, In This Modern Age, Actually Sold Into Slavery!


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

2 February 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Saints Without Wings See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (R.C.A. Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Final film of Fred Kohler. See more »


When the truck from the Albee Turpintine Co. is driving with the boys at night, shadows of the camera, its operator, and other equipment are visible on the road and the truck as it passes. See more »


[last lines]
Judge: [Addresses the court] Gentlemen, my great-great grandfather came to this country in a ship that was nothing more than a barge. He brought his sons. With their own hands they built a home out of the wilderness. One of those sons died in the War of the Revolution. The other served in the first Congress. Their sons after them went west, with the wild country; built railroads, bridges; served the government. All of them: pioneers, builders, soldiers, and statesman. And all for what? Just...
See more »


References Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

The side of the Depression not too many films talked about...
14 June 2017 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Despite the Depression, the vast majority of movies coming from Hollywood during the 1930s showed little evidence of widespread poverty and unemployment. Even fewer talked about the plight of kids during this era...a time when untold thousands of kids ran away from home to look for work because their families couldn't afford to feed them. One of the few movies to talk about this was "Wild Boys of the Road" as well as this picture, "Boy Slaves". It's a shame, as the exploitation and mistreatment of kids was rather widespread.

When the film begins, a family is in trouble when the oldest son, still a mere boy, loses his job. His younger brother doesn't want to be a burden to his poor family, so he runs away to seek his fortune. Being only about 12, it's not surprising his prospects are bleak. When he meets up with a gang of tough kids (sort of like RKO's answer to the East Side Kids), things seem to be improving. However, when they are rounded up by the local authorities things become a whole lot worse. A seemingly kind man offers to give the boys jobs...but they are essentially sent to a forced labor camp...complete with barbed wire fences and guards with guns! Soon, they learn that EVERYTHING the company 'gave' them has been charged to their accounts...at ridiculously high rates so that they are now essentially slaves. Then the beatings, rancid food and other forms of mistreatment evident but there appears to be no escape!

I was surprised by this film. Despite being a tad melodramatic and one or two of the kids overacting, the film is a very strong and convincing exposé. It's well made and worth seeing...and a great example of a film with a low budget and mostly no-name cast that STILL is very, very good.

By the way, like the East Side Kids, Dead End Kids and the like, this group of kids acted pretty similar. They also had a black kid (pretty progressive for the era) and dopey kid (like Huntz Hall). The only difference is this group looked a bit younger.

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