Crime School
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLewis Seiler
Written byCrane Wilbur
Vincent Sherman
Produced byBryan Foy
StarringHumphrey Bogart
Gale Page
Billy Halop
Bobby Jordan
Huntz Hall
Leo Gorcey
Bernard Punsly
Gabriel Dell
Charles Trowbridge
CinematographyArthur Todd
Edited byTerry Morse
Music byMax Steiner
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • May 28, 1938 (1938-05-28) (U.S.)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States

Crime School is a 1938 Warner Bros. film directed by Lewis Seiler and starring the Dead End Kids and Humphrey Bogart.


A junkman does business with the Dead End Kids: Frankie, Squirt, Spike, Goofy, Fats, and Bugs. When the boys ask for a $20 payoff, "Junkie" says "Five is all you'll get. Now take it and get out of here." In a rage, Spike strikes the man in the back of the head with a hard object, and the junkman falls to the floor and doesn't move. When Judge Clinton cannot convince the boys to divulge which one struck the damaging blow, they are all sent to reform school.

The harsh warden of the reformatory, Morgan, inflicts discipline at the school and flogs Frankie after he tries to escape. The superintendent of the state reformatories, Mark Braden, visits the school and finds evidence of Morgan's subtle cruelty, as in feeding his new inmates poor-quality food. He then visits Frankie in the hospital ward, finding him untreated and the doctor inebriated. As a way of starting over, he fires the doctor, Morgan, and four ex-convict guards, while retaining the head guard, Cooper. Braden takes charge of the reformatory himself and wins over the boys' cooperation by considerate treatment, while romancing Frankie's sister, Sue Warren.

Meanwhile, Cooper is afraid that Braden will learn of Morgan's embezzlement of the food budget, which would implicate him as well. He learns that Spike is the one who dealt the blow to the junkman and blackmails him. He gets him to tell Frankie that Braden's generous treatment is due to his sister's acceptance of Braden's attentions. Although untrue, it causes the kids to escape from the school in Cooper's car with his gun. They go to Sue's apartment, and Frankie climbs the fire escape with the gun to confront Braden, but Sue and Braden dispel Frankie's suspicions.

Meanwhile, Cooper "discovers" that the kids have escaped, and Morgan calls the press to discredit Braden and get him fired. But, Braden drives the boys back to the reformatory and gets them into their beds, before the Commissioner, alerted by Morgan, arrives for an inspection with the police in tow. Their plot foiled and their fraud uncovered, Morgan and Cooper are arrested. The boys are subsequently paroled into the care of their parents.


The Dead End Kids

Additional cast


Home media

Warner Archives released the film on made to order DVD in the United States on August 4, 2009.


  1. ^ a b Hayes, David and Brent Walker (1984). The Films of The Bowery Boys. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press.