Rupert Pupkin Speaks: WAC'd Out Sets: Bowery Boys Bonanza ""

Saturday, May 18, 2013

WAC'd Out Sets: Bowery Boys Bonanza

Watching a bunch of these films in a row is like watching I Love Lucy or Nick at Nite variety comedy television. Very comfort food-y. These are fun little bite-sized comedic morsels(about 65 mins or so each). This is, I believe the longest running film series ever with something like 48 entries. Each of them features 'Slip'(Leo Gorcey) and 'Sach'(Huntz Hall) and the rest of the boys getting into a one episodic adventure or another in the neighborhood each time out. Inevitably, the plots often revolve around some ill-advised money-making scheme that Slip has come up with. The boys use Louie's Sweet Shop as their headquarters and it goes through all manner of destruction and transformation throughout the course of the series. Warner Archive has released two lovely volumes of Bowery Boys film so far. Below have a look at some of the highlights among the 25 films one can sample across these two sets!

LIVE WIRES(1946; Phil Karlson)
This early film is interesting in that the guys are relatively subdued. Huntz Hall is much calmer than he'd later become.

NEWS HOUNDS(1947; William Beaudine)
The boys invade the newspaper biz on the hunt for sports corruption.

BLUES BUSTERS(1950; William Beaudine)
A routine tonsillectomy for Sach leaves the boys in the hole to Louie for a whole lotta dough, but thankfully the procedure has left him with a magical Crosby-esque crooners voice. Slip sees dollar signs before his eyes and convinces Louie to turn the shop into a nightclub, the glorious 'Bowery Palace'. Slip and Sach screw things up as usual.

MASTER MINDS(1949; Jean Yarbrough)
Sach eats too much candy and gets a bad toothache, but gains the ability to see the future. Slip takes the act to the public. Enter the mad scientist(played by Alan Napier, Alfred from the 60s Batman) plot. Dr. Druzik has an ISLAND OF LOST SOULS-y man-creature in need of a brain and Sach's brain looks like a great option. The mind switch goes quite well as you might imagine. I'm a sucker for this kind of ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEETS FRANKENSTEIN KIND OF COMEDY/horror business so this might be my favorite in the set.
It's positively condescending!

HOLD THAT BABY!(1949; Reginald Le Borg)
Boys are saddled with an unexpected toddler and wackiness happens. This was better than I expected. The sanitarium scenes alone are pretty fantastic. The imaginary card game is reminiscent of a Marx Bros bit. Certainly one of my favorites of all their films.

CRAZY OVER HORSES(1951; William Beaudine)
What starts as a "collection agency" action by the boys on behalf of Louie turns into a barter for a horse....but it's Allen Jenkins' horse! I really needn't say more than that. Jenkinsians(hardcore Allen Jenkins fans) take note.

Whilst trying to find a spot for the local kids to play baseball, the boys end up as guinea pigs for some scientists. These scientists have a groovy robot. A groovy decapitated robot, that could use a human head.
This one also features another crazy monster-man a la MASTER MINDS and old woman cannibal and a mad gorilla(suit)! As before, when the Boys intermingle with fantastic elements, it's pretty silly fun. This film, as wacky as it was and even as presented in lovely widescreen, is a little dopey, but fun nonetheless.

BOWERY BUCKAROOS(1947; William Beaudine)
The boys go out west in this gold huntin', gun slignin' adventure. Louie "the Lout''s old western past comes back to haunt him when the sheriff from Hangman's Hollow comes looking for him after 20 years. The boys then have to get him exonerated, find the girl who's dad he was framed for shooting and use Louie's map (on his back) do find the gold he hid way back when. The boys must take on aliases. Slip is "Deadeye Dan", Gabe is "The Klondike Kid" and Sach is confused.

PRIVATE EYES(1953; Edward Bernds)
Yet another head injury(this time from a youngster's uppercut)cause more superpowers("Mental Telegraphy") for Sach. Slip decides to open a detective agency  to put Sach's new mind readin' skills to good use. One the best entries in the series.

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