Kid Dynamite (1943)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 5, 1943 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 73 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

Kid Dynamite is one of the most thematically complex of all the East Side Kids movies. In addition to the usual rough-house antics and verbal comedy, there are plot lines involving patriotism and a symbolic "sibling" rivalry between Leo Gorcey's and Bobby Jordan's characters, all interwoven very carefully. The key story arc hooks around Gorcey's character slow realization that it's time to outgrow his petty jealousies and rages and worry about bigger concerns, such as fighting World War II. The movie even gives a short refresher course to younger viewers on why the war was so important, and what the Allies were fighting for. Wallace W. Fox's direction is a little more subtle than usual in the East Side Kids films, as he has these various important elements to work with, which also allow him and Leo Gorcey to impart a nasty, more interesting side to the character of Muggs McGinniss. The whole cast of regulars stretch their acting muscles a bit here, in addition to getting a good workout (that is Bobby Jordan in the boxing ring scenes), and the result is one of the more entertaining and enduring movies of the series, and one laced with an interesting nostalgia and honest sentimentality over a subject that's forgotten today -- the interaction between Henry Hall's Mr. Gendig and Margaret Padula's Mrs. Lyons are a reminder that a lot of people who were older adults during the years 1942-45 had to cope with strong memories of the First World War. And, yet, even amid the movie's serious messages and topical focus, Kid Dynamite has more than its share of laughs, most of them provided by Morey Amsterdam, then an up-and-coming comic, who was hired to write special comedy material for the script (most of which ends up being spoken by Huntz Hall). Other highlights (besides the fighting) include a dance contest featuring singer Marion Miller and Mike Riley's Orchestra, run by political candidate Klinkhamer (Vince Barnett, who is very funny throughout the movie); Dudley Dickerson serious performance as Mr. Scruno, the father of Sammy "Sunshine" Morrison's Scruno; Minerva Urecal as a disapproving court judge; and Kay Mavis, soon to be Mrs. Leo Gorcey, in a delightful jitterbug sequence with Gorcey's Muggs McGinniss.