9 user 3 critic

Boy Slaves (1939)

Passed | | Action, Adventure, Crime | 2 February 1939 (USA)
A runaway follows the leader of a gang of boys, and they all wind up working in a turpentine camp.


P.J. Wolfson


Albert Bein (screen play), B. Harrison Orkow (screen play) (as Ben Orkow) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Anne Shirley ... Annie
Roger Daniel ... Jesse
James McCallion ... Tim
Alan Baxter ... Graff
Johnny Fitzgerald Johnny Fitzgerald ... Knuckles
Walter Ward Walter Ward ... Miser
Charles Powers Charles Powers ... Lollie
Walter Tetley Walter Tetley ... Pee Wee
Frank Malo Frank Malo ... Tommy
Paul White Paul White ... Atlas
Arthur Hohl ... Sheriff
Charles Lane ... Albee
Norman Willis ... Drift Boss
Roy Gordon Roy Gordon ... Judge


A runaway follows the leader of a gang of boys, and they all wind up working in a turpentine camp.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SOLD - Human Beings, In This Modern Age, Actually Sold Into Slavery!


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

2 February 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Saints Without Wings See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (R.C.A. Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


At the end of the film, Mr Albee is charged with "peonage". Peonage is a system where creditors forced debtors to work for them and is a form of involuntary servitude. Peonage was made illegal in the USA by an act of Congress in 1867. See more »


When the truck from the Albee Turpintine Co. is driving with the boys at night, shadows of the camera, its operator, and other equipment are visible on the road and the truck as it passes. See more »


[last lines]
Judge: [Addresses the court] Gentlemen, my great-great grandfather came to this country in a ship that was nothing more than a barge. He brought his sons. With their own hands they built a home out of the wilderness. One of those sons died in the War of the Revolution. The other served in the first Congress. Their sons after them went west, with the wild country; built railroads, bridges; served the government. All of them: pioneers, builders, soldiers, and statesman. And all for what? Just...
See more »


References Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

An Obscure "Find"
6 June 2017 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

This 1939 RKO flick's not as well produced nor structured as Warner's 1933 Wild Boys Of The Road, but does manage moments of genuine grit, plus a few surprises. Like its better known predecessor, it deals with the effect of the Depression era on a generation of rootless boys. All in all, the 70-minutes is a real "find" for old movie fans

Jesse's a rather sensitive lad who leaves his destitute home to seek a fortune "by working hard". Instead he falls in with a tough gang of runaway boys who live a roving hand-to-mouth existence. What direction Jesse's youthful idealism will take now becomes a key question. The gang's leader, Tim, is a natural leader but has become mean and thoroughly alienated from what has for him been an uncaring society. Soon the gang is sentenced to a work camp that operates on debt peonage. There the boys exist under prison-like conditions without hope of paying off their individual debts to the camp.

There's a strong Depression era subtext underlying the various tribulations. In that regard, the movie retains historical interest, despite Bowery Boys overtones. I really like the way Jesse is too scared by the nighttime forest to deliver the crucial help-note. That's a surprisingly realistic turn. Notice too that the boys have addressed the note to "Mrs. President", that is, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklyn's wife, well known for her empathy for the downtrodden (a sign of the times).

There are a number of positive points. Clearly the boys were not chosen for their Hollywood looks, thereby lending an unusual movie appearance. Then too, the addition of a Black lad (Paul White) as just one of the guys seems a bold move. I guess my only misgiving is adding Anne Shirley to the work camp without explanation. She's just sort of "dropped in" about midway through. It's as though the producers suddenly discovered they needed a commercial name on the marquee amongst all the no-names. At least, she's a break from all the ugly guys.

Anyway, despite the hokey title, the movie's a worthy reflection of its era, and deserves better circulation than what it's gotten.

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