Hell's Kitchen (1939 film)

Hell's Kitchen is a 1939 thriller Warner Bros. film starring The Dead End Kids and Ronald Reagan.

Hell's Kitchen
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLewis Seiler
E.A. DuPont
Produced byMark Hellinger
Bryan Foy
Written byCrane Wilbur
Fred Niblo, Jr.
StarringBilly Halop
Bobby Jordan
Leo Gorcey
Huntz Hall
Gabriel Dell
Bernard Punsly
Margaret Lindsay
Ronald Reagan
Stanley Fields
Music byRay Heindorf
Heinz Roemheld
CinematographyCharles Rosher
Edited byClarence Kolster
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • July 8, 1939 (1939-07-08)
Running time
82 min.
CountryUnited States


Buck Caesar (Stanley Fields) is a paroled convict who makes a contribution to a reform school on the advice of his nephew, Jim Donahue (Ronald Reagan), a lawyer. Jim feels that the boys in the reform school, including Tony (Billy Halop), Gyp (Leo Gorcey), Joey (Bobby Jordan), Bongo (Huntz Hall), Ace (Gabriel Dell), and "Ouch" (Bernard Punsly), could benefit from the contribution, and he believes the publicity from it will help his uncle.

The superintendent, Krispan (Grant Mitchell), does not want the contribution to lead to an audit, as he has been carrying two sets of financial books. He gets a professional hockey team to substitute for the team his school will be playing. His reasoning is that Buck will place a large bet on the school and lose, thereby getting him angry and possibly violent, which would violate his parole and send him back to prison. Buck does proceed to get angry, and punches the opposing coach, and then hides to avoid arrest.

Krispan continues in his role as ruler of the school, which had deteriorated under Buck's influence. As punishment for their actions while Buck was around, Krispan locks Joey into a freezer, and he dies. The other kids revolt and Buck comes out of hiding to aid them. The kids capture Krispan and make him go through a trial where they convict him to "join Joey". Buck, however, has gone to the police, and they arrive in time to stop them. Krispan is punished through the proper legal channels, and Buck returns to prison for violation of parole.


The Dead End Kids

Additional players and supporting cast

Previous versions

The film is a remake of The Mayor of Hell (1933) starring James Cagney, and another Dead End Kids film, Crime School (1938).


  • The film was given an "H" rating (now known as an "X" rating) in the United Kingdom due to its violence.[1]

Home media

The film was released as a double feature DVD by Warner Archives with On Dress Parade on January 22, 2013.


  1. Getz, Leonard (2006). From Broadway to the Bowery. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.
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