Dead End (1937)

Rating: 3.5/10

At the end of a city block, where the poorest people live, we witness a day in all their lives. Watch as life (and death) unfold amongst the lowliest among us.

I started off watching this movie thinking “well, I’ve never seen a noir with Humphrey Bogart before…” and I still haven’t seen one. Though there are elements of noir, especially with Bogart’s character, it’s still so disjointed that the only real genre that comes out of this film to me is melodrama. I’m getting ahead of myself…

Okay, the real problem with this film is that it doesn’t really have a plot. I mean, stuff happens in it… Okay, let’s go back even further so I can explain. A movie is about 2 hours long, give or take. That is a very short amount of time. Because of this, your film is about 1 thing and 1 thing only. You can add other things in side stories, but if someone is asked what your movie is about after watching your film, the plot will be the thing that stands out as the main story. The terrorism attack on the Nagasaki building is the plot of Die Hard, not the Christmas Party preceding it, nor the friendly cop trying to get over his fear of shooting people, nor John Mclain’s marital problems. When you’re trying to tell every person’s story who lives on this street, nothing springs forth as a main storyline and, by the end, everything in this film feels like almost nothing happens in it, even when things are actually happening in it. It doesn’t help there’s not a main character either.

It’s not all bad though. The acting is good, along with the world building. I also really appreciated the use of cinematography throughout the film. And really each scene unto itself is a good scene. But without that main plot, or at least a central character, it doesn’t have a glue that really binds the whole story together. Also, I’m just not a big fan of melodramas…


+2: Maybe this is my own bias against the genre, but it was really hard for me to enjoy the majority of the movie, every scene feels like it’s just setting up the next scene, and it’s not. It’s a full movie of setup with almost no payoff.

+3: the acting, world building, and cinematography were all really good

-1.5: Without a solid plot or main character to root for, everything feels really empty

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