Cast & Crew
The East Side Kids, a gang of tough but honest youth in New York City, are frustrated that their age keeps them from serving in the army during World War II, so they wage a private war at home. Their first target is a storekeeper whom they believe to be Japanese, and they pelt his store with rotten vegetables. When they enter the store to smash the curios, they discover the owner has been stabbed to death. The Kids are questioned and released by the police. Learning that the owner was actually Chinese, the Kids make a heartfelt apology to his widow. Their curiosity is then aroused when a supposed patron, Joe Matsui, steals a pen from the store's desk. After they steal the pen from Joe, the Kids discover a piece of paper hidden inside it, which reveals Japanese writing when a light is held near it. Muggs, the leader of the East Side Kids, takes the note to the Matsui tea shop and asks Joe's father to interpret it. When the elder Matsui snatches the note, Muggs grabs it back, and Matsui commits suicide. The Kids drag policeman Pop Stevens to the scene, but Joe disguises himself as his own father to allay suspicions about his father's death. Danny, a member of the gang, is surprised by the appearance of his brother Phil in the tea shop. Phil has been dishonorably discharged from the Navy for sabotage, and his covert actions now seem suspicious to the Kids. They steal a bag containing a white substance hidden in the tea shop and take it home. When the bag explodes on the stove, Stevens helps them put out the fire and identifies the substance as magnesium, a valuable wartime resource which he suspects is being illegally supplied by a local storekeeper named Heinbach. Muggs gives the Japanese note to Nora, Phil's girl friend and Stevens' daughter, to be translated, but when she takes it to her old high school friend, Joe, he and Heinbach's son Fritz hold her hostage. The Kids now become convinced that a spy ring is operating in their neighborhood and break into the tea shop and infiltrate a clandestine meeting of fifth columnists wearing hoods and gowns. After Phil is revealed as a member, the Kids are discovered and a brawl ensues. Phil, who has actually been working undercover for the U.S. government, rounds up the spies, including Matsui and Heinbach, Sr., with the help of the East Side Kids, the spies are arrested by the police. Phil and Nora marry, but he is forced to report back to the Navy before they can go on their honeymoon.
Sunshine Sammy Morrison
Barney A. Sarecky
The opening title card reads "The Eastside Kids in Let's Get Tough!" Sunshine Sammy Morrison's surname was misspelled "Morrisson" in the onscreen credits. The working titles of this film were Little MacArthurs, I Am an American and Little Americans. Little MacArthurs was announced in Hollywood Reporter as the first film title to mention General Douglas MacArthur by name. For additonal information on the "East Side Kids" series, consult the Series Index and for Flying Wild.