16 July 2003 | cinema_universe
Great Juvenile Cast Solves Murder.
For fans of mystery films, this is not the stuff of great whodunits, but if you like Saturday Matinee fare with an "A-Film" look (though not budget), then don't pass this up.
It stars some of the cream of the period's juvenile actors, in their teenage prime. The only one who is older than his "star-kid" days is Jackie Cooper. (but he went on to a successful adult acting career, anyway-- mostly on TV).
Bonita Granville, who received 2nd billing to Cooper, did her best (which is not much different than her 'Nancy Drew' roles at Warners). I've always been fond of Granville in supporting roles (or B-film leads), but a little bit of Bonita can go a long way. She wisely gave up acting before outgrowing her youthful charms.
Gene Reynolds, who was billed 3rd, was easily the best of all of this film's young actors. As the central character, who's innocent father is imprisoned for a murder that all the teens set out to solve, he pretty much steals the show.
Reynolds, a good-looking and accomplished young actor, made many films as a teenager but none as an adult. He did, however, go on to become an extremely successful (and extremely rich) TV producer-director. Reynolds would become best known for winning numerous Emmys for his long-running hit television series, "M.A.S.H.".
Leo Gorcey, fresh out of the 'Dead End Kids', but before starting in Monogram's 'East Side Kids' series, isn't given much to say in this film, and is actually relegated to a role as one of the 'background' kids!
He probably never forgot this experience. -- When Gorcey was adult enough to have a hand in producing the 'Bowery Boys' films, he made sure that he had ALL the lines, and that the other guys (except Huntz Hall) had only enough lines to discern them from the backdrops.
Gail Patrick, the leading female adult in "Gallant Sons", has a pivotal role in this story playing Bonita Granville's mother. A much under-rated actress, Gail Patrick gives a lot to this supporting part. She received 4th billing, after Cooper, Granville and Reynolds.
The film has the usual MGM polish, though none of the excesses of the Rooney-Garland juvenile extravaganzas produced in the same period. (And, thank goodness, no singing & dancing...)
I thoroughly enjoyed "Gallant Sons", and I especially liked seeing Gene Reynolds handle the most complex role of any of the young characters. Certainly more endearing than Cooper or Gorcey, I can't help wondering why Reynolds didn't pursue acting as an adult. Could he have seen the coming bonanza that television producing would bring his way?