Amid so many strange critical misapprehensions, Seiler & Dupont’s Hell’s Kitchen has suffered the strangest.
The Dead End Kids are part of the cast, the main character is a gangster convicted of smuggling, given a hefty fine that all but wipes him out, and put on probation. His lawyer advises a donation to the Hudson Shelter for Homeless Boys, the gangster takes it over as a charitable project.
The gangster’s nepotism (his lawyer is his sister’s kid) is exactly reflected at the shelter, the crooked keeper mistreats the boys dreadfully, pockets the proceeds, and lets one die in the meat locker or “cool room”.
The gangster initiates democracy and a sports program, which is where George Roy Hill got Slap Shot (and there is Stuart Rosenberg’s Brubaker).
Influences include Erle C. Kenton’s Island of Lost Souls, Vigo is a kindred spirit, If…. is on the horizon.
The opening scene in court is a masterpiece.