Boys of the City

Boys of the City (also known as The Ghost Creeps[1]) is a 1940 black-and-white comedy/thriller film directed by Joseph H. Lewis. It is the second East Side Kids film and the first to star Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey, and Ernest Morrison.[2][3]

Boys of the City
Theatrical poster
Directed byJoseph H. Lewis
Produced bySam Katzman
Written byWilliam Lively
Based onstory by William Lively
StarringBobby Jordan
Leo Gorcey
Music byLew Porter
CinematographyRobert E. Cline
Harvey Gould
Edited byCarl Pierson
Four Bell Pictures Inc
Distributed byMonogram Pictures Corporation
Release date
  • July 15, 1940 (1940-07-15) (U.S.)
Running time
68 mins.


To escape the heat of the city and a court sentence for malicious mischief, the East Side kids agree to visit a summer camp in the Adirondacks. En route, their car breaks down and they are reluctantly given accommodations in the home of Judge Malcolm Parker (Forrest Taylor).

The Judge, under indictment for bribery, has much to fear. His life, as well as that of his niece Louise (Inna Gest) has been threatened by a gang of racketeers; his companion, Giles (Dennis Moore), has accused him of embezzling Louise's fortune; and his sinister housekeeper, Agnes, blames him for the death of her mistress, Leonora. The Judge's fears are compounded when he meets Knuckles Dolan (Dave O'Brien), the boys' guardian, whom he had unjustly sentenced to death, only to have his verdict reversed and Knuckles exonerated.

Later that night, when Louise is kidnapped and the Judge found strangled, Giles and Simp (Vince Barnett), the Judge's bodyguard, accuse Knuckles of the murder, but the boys capture Simp and Giles and determine to find the murderer themselves. Muggs (Leo Gorcey) and Danny (Bobby Jordan) discover a secret panel in the library wall and enter a passage where they find Louise's unconscious body and glimpse the figure of a fleeing man. Knuckles captures the man, who identifies himself as Jim Harrison (Alden 'Stephen' Chase) of the district attorney's office.

Amid the confusion, the real killer takes Louise captive, but the boys track him down and unmask Simp. Harrison then identifies the bodyguard as the triggerman seeking revenge on the Judge. With the crime solved, the boys can finally leave for their summer camp.

Cast and characters

The East Side Kids

Other cast


This film was a direct follow-up to East Side Kids.[4]

After completing the pilot film for the series, producer Sam Katzman was able to convince former Dead End Kids Bobby Jordan and Leo Gorcey to join the series. Katzman also brought in Gorcey's younger brother David, and former Our Gang star and Vaudeville entertainer "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison. Morrison had already known Katzman prior to joining the series.

While this film is technically a sequel to the previous film, some unexplained changes are made (namely the addition of "Muggs", "Scruno", and "Buster").

Most of the cast from the previous film did not return. Bobby Jordan replaced Harris Berger in the role of "Danny", and would retain the role for a large portion of the series' run.

Jack Edwards was originally slated to return as "Algernon Wilkes", but immediately declined after being offered a part in another movie. Eugene Francis took his place the day before filming began. Francis says he was paid $66 a week and the film was shot in five days. New York City exteriors were done at the Roach Studio, with interiors done on a soundstrage on Gower St next to Columbia. Francis:

I knew what I was getting into. It was Gower Gulch-bottom of the barrel. The cliche in Hollywood at the time was if you were working in Gower Gulch you’re either on your way up or on your way down... They’d block it out so we knew where we were supposed to walk. Sometimes that was the trouble with the picture. Everyone would pile in a scene like some kind of free-for-all. It looked like it was ad-libbed or at least that’s how it seemed to me. I’m a guy who likes rehearsing but they didn’t believe in it. I don’t think Leo Gorcey could ever rehearse. He was pretty wild and you never knew what was going to happen... There was a lot of ad-libbing but [the scenes and storyline were not substantially changed]. You’d never get the picture done otherwise. We didn’t have to be word perfect just approximate... I did know that Boys of the City was terribly shot. You could see the flashlight reflection of a candle during one scene! No one cared. It was junk. They were poverty row films and no one wanted to be in them.[5]

Hal E. Chester returned, but as his character was killed off in the previous film, he plays a different character here. This would be his last East Side Kids film.

In addition to Chester, Frankie Burke, Donald Haines, and Dave O'Brien all returned, and each reprised their role from the previous film. This would be Burke's last East Side Kids film. After his departure, the character of "Skinny" was given to Haines, while "Peewee" was given to David Gorcey.

Filming started in June 1940.[6]


The plot of the film was reused a year later in Spooks Run Wild and again four years later in Crazy Knights.[2]


  1. Tom Weaver, Poverty Row Horrors! Mongram, PRC and Republic Horror Films of the Forties, 1993 p 5
  2. Tom Weaver, Poverty Row Horrors! Mongram, PRC and Republic Horror Films of the Forties, 1993 p 5
  3. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Robert Montgomery to Star in 'Slightly Married'--'Some Day I'll Find You' Bought 4 NEW FILMS THIS WEEK 'The Great McGinty,' 'I Love You Again' and 'Three Faces West' Among Arrivals Korda Story Based on Poem Mystery to Be Filmed Of Local Origin Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Aug 1940: 11.
  4. 'Clear All Wires' Lead Goes to Robert Young Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 June 1940: 16.
  5. "Eugene Francis: East Side Kid memories" An Interview by John Antosiewicz, Films of the Golden Age
  6. Monogram Schedule Set: Film Company's Head Reports Dates Fixed for Start on 19 Features Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 June 1940: A8.
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