To escape the heat of the city and a court sentence for malicious mischief, the East Side kids agree to visit a summer camp in the Adirondacks. En route, their car breaks down and they are reluctantly given accommodations in the home of Judge Malcolm Parker (Forrest Taylor).
The Judge, under indictment for bribery, has much to fear. His life, as well as that of his niece Louise (Inna Gest) has been threatened by a gang of racketeers; his companion, Giles (Dennis Moore), has accused him of embezzling Louise's fortune; and his sinister housekeeper, Agnes, blames him for the death of her mistress, Leonora. The Judge's fears are compounded when he meets Knuckles Dolan (Dave O'Brien), the boys' guardian, whom he had unjustly sentenced to death, only to have his verdict reversed and Knuckles exonerated.
Later that night, when Louise is kidnapped and the Judge found strangled, Giles and Simp (Vince Barnett), the Judge's bodyguard, accuse Knuckles of the murder, but the boys capture Simp and Giles and determine to find the murderer themselves. Muggs (Leo Gorcey) and Danny (Bobby Jordan) discover a secret panel in the library wall and enter a passage where they find Louise's unconscious body and glimpse the figure of a fleeing man. Knuckles captures the man, who identifies himself as Jim Harrison (Alden 'Stephen' Chase) of the district attorney's office.
Amid the confusion, the real killer takes Louise captive, but the boys track him down and unmask Simp. Harrison then identifies the bodyguard as the triggerman seeking revenge on the Judge. With the crime solved, the boys can finally leave for their summer camp.Bobby Jordan as Danny Dolan
Leo Gorcey as Muggs
Hal E. Chester as Buster
Frankie Burke as Skinny
Sunshine Sammy as Scruno
Donald Haines as Peewee
David Gorcey as Pete
Eugene Francis as Algy Wilkes
Vince Barnett as Simp
Inna Gest as Louise Mason
Dave O'Brien as 'Knuckles' Dolan
Minerva Urecal as Agnes
Dennis Moore as Giles
Forrest Taylor as Judge Malcolm Parker
Alden 'Stephen' Chase as Jim Harrison
Jerry Mandy as Cook
George Humbert as Tony
This film was a direct follow-up to East Side Kids.
After completing the pilot film for the series, producer Sam Katzman was able to convince former Dead End Kids Bobby Jordan and Leo Gorcey to join the series. Katzman also brought in Gorcey's younger brother David, and former Our Gang star and Vaudeville entertainer "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison. Morrison had already known Katzman prior to joining the series.
While this film is technically a sequel to the previous film, some unexplained changes are made (namely the addition of "Muggs", "Scruno", and "Buster").
Most of the cast from the previous film did not return. Bobby Jordan replaced Harris Berger in the role of "Danny", and would retain the role for a large portion of the series' run.
Jack Edwards was originally slated to return as "Algernon Wilkes", but immediately declined after being offered a part in another movie. Eugene Francis took his place the day before filming began. Francis says he was paid $66 a week and the film was shot in five days. New York City exteriors were done at the Roach Studio, with interiors done on a soundstrage on Gower St next to Columbia. Francis:
I knew what I was getting into. It was Gower Gulch-bottom of the barrel. The cliche in Hollywood at the time was if you were working in Gower Gulch you’re either on your way up or on your way down... They’d block it out so we knew where we were supposed to walk. Sometimes that was the trouble with the picture. Everyone would pile in a scene like some kind of free-for-all. It looked like it was ad-libbed or at least that’s how it seemed to me. I’m a guy who likes rehearsing but they didn’t believe in it. I don’t think Leo Gorcey could ever rehearse. He was pretty wild and you never knew what was going to happen... There was a lot of ad-libbing but [the scenes and storyline were not substantially changed]. You’d never get the picture done otherwise. We didn’t have to be word perfect just approximate... I did know that Boys of the City was terribly shot. You could see the flashlight reflection of a candle during one scene! No one cared. It was junk. They were poverty row films and no one wanted to be in them.
Hal E. Chester returned, but as his character was killed off in the previous film, he plays a different character here. This would be his last East Side Kids film.
In addition to Chester, Frankie Burke, Donald Haines, and Dave O'Brien all returned, and each reprised their role from the previous film. This would be Burke's last East Side Kids film. After his departure, the character of "Skinny" was given to Haines, while "Peewee" was given to David Gorcey.
Filming started in June 1940.
The plot of the film was reused a year later in Spooks Run Wild and again four years later in Crazy Knights.