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The Devil is a Sissy

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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(Jun 22, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

No squealers, that's the rule. And Claude Pierce, a child of privilege eager to throw in with two rough-and-tumble lower East Siders, aims to live by it. But through their adventures the trio of would-be toughs discovers another rule. It's harder to go straight than to live a life of crime. That's why The Devil Is a Sissy.

This full-hearted drama from the era of Dead End unites a trio of top 1930s child stars for the only time: Freddie Bartholomew (David Copperfield), Jackie Cooper (The Champ) and Mickey Rooney. All three shine. "But it is Mickey Rooney, the Puck of A Midsummer Night's Dream, who penetrates beyond the script and emerges as a living study of Gig, the son of a murderer" (Frank S. Nugent, The New York Times).

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Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Freddie Bartholomew, Jackie Cooper Mickey Rooney
  • Directors: W.S. Van Dyke
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • DVD Release Date: June 22, 2009
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002DQN86C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,203 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Devil is a Sissy" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

5 star
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4 star
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I'd never seen or even heard of this film until it showed up on sale in the Warner Archives a few months back, so I thought I'd take a chance. After seeing it, I was really angry - at Turner Classic Movies. Why is it that I've been a regular viewer of this channel for years and never seen this real gem of a pre-war film? It deserves to be brought out and shown more often - as in more than once every two or three years.

The film stars three of MGM's child stars at various points in their career. Freddy Bartholomew is about at the peak of his career, Mickey Rooney is only beginning what will be a decades long career, and Jackie Cooper is getting a little too old to play the lead in children's films. However, the three come together perfectly here.

Freddy Bartholomew plays Claude Pierce, the son of a divorced couple. The father is an aspiring architect living in a rough neighborhood, the mother is a society swell who looked upon her husband's career as an annoying hobby that took away time from their society hob-nobbing on her money - thus the divorce. The two have joint custody of Claude but very different lives. Half the year Claude is the sheltered citizen of the world with his mother, but now it is his father's turn. He thus attends public school and quickly runs afoul of Buck Murphy (Jackie Cooper) and Gig Stevens (Mickey Rooney). Claude is fascinated with these guys, even if they don't like him. He quickly learns how to earn their tolerance even if he doesn't really have their friendship.

Shortly after Claude's arrival Gig's father is executed for a murder he commited. Gig's mission in life now is to get enough money together to buy a headstone for his father's grave. However, even the illegal endeavors that Gig and Buck come up with can't yield enough money.
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Format: DVD
Claude Pierce (Freddie Bartholomew) is the young son of divorced parents living in very different parts of New York City. His father is a kind, gentle, understanding man who is very supportive of his son, giving him what he never got from his ex-wife, acceptance of him as the very one he is, a sensitive, artistic man who wants to be an architect. The mother is an arrogant, bossy socialite from a very wealthy family who wanted her ex to focus on having a good time, not making a contribution to society. In an interesting twist I had not realized was even possible in the 1930's, Claude's parents have joint custody, with the father getting Claude six months and the mother six months. When with his mother, he leads a very cushy, protected existence with an excellent education at a private school that has allowed him to become fluent in French. In contrast, his father makes no attempt to protect Claude from the rough neighborhood he lives in.

Two of the toughs Claude runs into are Buck (Jackie Cooper) and Gig (Mickey Rooney. Gig's father is executed as a criminal, and Gig goes to desperate measures to earn $80--a huge amount of money at the time--to buy his father a fancy tombstone. In spite of Buck and Gig pushing him around, plucky Claude goes to great lengths to keep them out of trouble and get Gig the tombstone he wants so desperately. But in spite of Claude's best efforts, the three of them land in one big mess after another.

This was the first time I've actually watched Freddie Bartholomew in a film, though he is so famous I had certainly heard of him. I can see why people were crazy about him. He was absolutely adorable, and the character he plays in this film is irresistible.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The acting in this film is terrific. Who knew Mickey Rooney had this range? This is a heart warming treat. It is definitely a period piece with language we might remember parents ( or grandparents) using. I bought it because of a New York Times obituary of Rooney in which this film was cited as emblematic of Rooney's talent. I was not disappointed. If only things worked themselves out this way today. This was a time when people were more openly noble and not shy about being so.
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