Young Donovan's Kid (1931)

76-77 mins | Melodrama | 6 June 1931

Director:

Fred Niblo

Cinematographer:

Edward Cronjager

Production Designer:

Max Rée

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Big Brother, Born to the Racket and Donovan's Kid. Some trade journals reviewed the film as Donovan's Kid, which also was the release title in Great Britain. According to a pre-production MPH news item, Richard Dix was supposed to direct as well as star in the picture. RKO borrowed Jackie Cooper, whose performance in Paramount's successful 1931 film Skippy had made him a star, from Hal Roach's film company. A FD news item adds Jane Talent to the cast, but her participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to RKO studio records from 1936, RKO sent Joseph I. Breen, Director of Studio Relations at the AMPP, a copy of this film's script, apparently for re-issue censorship approval. Breen objected strongly to the script, feeling that the story in general violated the Production Code. In a May 1936 letter from Breen to RKO president B. B. Kahane, Breen states that "any acceptable treatment of this story must eliminate the gangster element throughout. The police should not be characterized as stupid, brutal, inefficient or otherwise objectionable....Showing of a scene in which an attempt is made to teach a child methods of picking pockets is not acceptable from the point of view of political censors boards." It is not known if RKO abandoned plans for a re-issue as a result of Breen's letter. Rex Beach's story was first produced in 1923 by Famous Players-Lasky. Allan Dwan directed Tom Moore, Edith Roberts and Mickey Bennett in this silent version (see ...

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The working titles of this film were Big Brother, Born to the Racket and Donovan's Kid. Some trade journals reviewed the film as Donovan's Kid, which also was the release title in Great Britain. According to a pre-production MPH news item, Richard Dix was supposed to direct as well as star in the picture. RKO borrowed Jackie Cooper, whose performance in Paramount's successful 1931 film Skippy had made him a star, from Hal Roach's film company. A FD news item adds Jane Talent to the cast, but her participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to RKO studio records from 1936, RKO sent Joseph I. Breen, Director of Studio Relations at the AMPP, a copy of this film's script, apparently for re-issue censorship approval. Breen objected strongly to the script, feeling that the story in general violated the Production Code. In a May 1936 letter from Breen to RKO president B. B. Kahane, Breen states that "any acceptable treatment of this story must eliminate the gangster element throughout. The police should not be characterized as stupid, brutal, inefficient or otherwise objectionable....Showing of a scene in which an attempt is made to teach a child methods of picking pockets is not acceptable from the point of view of political censors boards." It is not known if RKO abandoned plans for a re-issue as a result of Breen's letter. Rex Beach's story was first produced in 1923 by Famous Players-Lasky. Allan Dwan directed Tom Moore, Edith Roberts and Mickey Bennett in this silent version (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.0389).

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
20 Mar 1931
p. 6
Film Daily
24 May 1931
p. 10
International Photographer
1 Jul 1931
p. 11
Motion Picture Herald
17 Jan 1931
p. 56
Motion Picture Herald
9 May 1931
p. 37
New York Times
22 May 1931
p. 28
Variety
27 May 1931
p. 56
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITER
Adpt and dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Joe Biroc
2d cam
2d cam
2d cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
SOUND
Rec eng
PRODUCTION MISC
Still photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Big Brother" by Rex Beach in Cosmpolitan (Jul--Sep 1923).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Big Brother
Born to the Racket
Donovan's Kid
Release Date:
6 June 1931
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 21 May 1931
Production Date:

Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
22 May 1931
LP2294
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
76-77
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

In 1910, after his friend, Ben Murray, is killed in a gunfight, Jim Donovan, a gang leader in New York's Lower East Side, adopts Ben's young son Midge. Because Midge is an uncontrollable brat, Jim seeks the advice of Father Dan, the local parish priest. In response, Father Dan sends his niece, Kitty Costello, to look after Midge in Jim's quarters. Under Kitty's strict but loving supervision, Midge soon improves and becomes the leader of the church choir. At the same time, Jim, who has fallen in love with Kitty, begins to question his life as a racketeer and gradually abandons his crooked ways. Jim and Midge's newfound happiness is shattered, however, when Duryea, a nosey man from the Child's Welfare Society, orders Midge to be sent to a house of correction. Embittered by the loss of Midge, Jim swears revenge against all factions of law and order. Kitty, however, keeps Jim "on the straight and narrow" and has him act as her bodyguard whenever she delivers large sums of cash from her office to the bank. One day, while Jim is visiting Midge in the Correction Home, Kitty is robbed of $5,000 by gangster Cokey Joe. Because of Jim's background, both he and Kitty are suspected of participating in the crime and eventually are arrested. While in custody, Jim breaks free of his handcuffs and escapes. Jim tracks Cokey Joe to a dance hall, where a blazing shootout with the gangster ensues. Seriously wounded, Jim staggers back to the police station, returns the stolen money and lapses into unconsciousness. Although near death, Jim pulls through after he learns ...

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In 1910, after his friend, Ben Murray, is killed in a gunfight, Jim Donovan, a gang leader in New York's Lower East Side, adopts Ben's young son Midge. Because Midge is an uncontrollable brat, Jim seeks the advice of Father Dan, the local parish priest. In response, Father Dan sends his niece, Kitty Costello, to look after Midge in Jim's quarters. Under Kitty's strict but loving supervision, Midge soon improves and becomes the leader of the church choir. At the same time, Jim, who has fallen in love with Kitty, begins to question his life as a racketeer and gradually abandons his crooked ways. Jim and Midge's newfound happiness is shattered, however, when Duryea, a nosey man from the Child's Welfare Society, orders Midge to be sent to a house of correction. Embittered by the loss of Midge, Jim swears revenge against all factions of law and order. Kitty, however, keeps Jim "on the straight and narrow" and has him act as her bodyguard whenever she delivers large sums of cash from her office to the bank. One day, while Jim is visiting Midge in the Correction Home, Kitty is robbed of $5,000 by gangster Cokey Joe. Because of Jim's background, both he and Kitty are suspected of participating in the crime and eventually are arrested. While in custody, Jim breaks free of his handcuffs and escapes. Jim tracks Cokey Joe to a dance hall, where a blazing shootout with the gangster ensues. Seriously wounded, Jim staggers back to the police station, returns the stolen money and lapses into unconsciousness. Although near death, Jim pulls through after he learns that Kitty loves him and that Midge will soon be returned to him.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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