Monday, September 19, 2011

Hard Boiled Mahoney (1947)

This week at Unseen we’re going to take a look at five of the Bowery Boys films.

The Bowery Boys were the final series of films that began with the film Dead End, where the smart ass street kids that populated the street scenes were spun off into their own series. The Dead End Kids split apart and some became the Little Tough Guys. They then reformed as the East Side Kids before they all became the Bowery Boys. The films went from drama, to a mix of drama and comedy to all comedy by the time they were the Bowery Boys.

Over the next five days we’re going to take a random selection of the films.

Sixth of forty eight Bowery Boys films is one of the better films in the series.

Slip’s girlfriend Alice won’t go out with him until he gets a job. Then Sach shows up in the Sweet Shop telling of how he was fired by his detective boss for actually solving a case. He tells Slip that he wasn’t paid for the work he did and the pair, with the gang in tow, go to call on Sach's old boss. The boss is nowhere to be found, so when a client arrives to ask him to look into a missing girl, Slip takes the job and soon the gang is fumbling their way through a complicated case.

This is an amusing film that doesn’t look or feel as cheap and worn as some of the later films in the series. There are tons of people filling out some sequences and the set decorations aren’t sparse. This may not sound like much but when you watch the films in the series out of order (as I’ve done) you realize just how anemic some of the later films really are.

The script here is also pretty good as well. It’s the work of writer director producer Cy Endfield, the man responsible for films such as Zulu and Hell Drivers. It has a reasonably mysterious mystery , good character arcs and some nice mangling of English by Slip.

Its these early films that make it clear why the series went to 48 films and why they are so fondly remembered by those who saw them when they were growing up, simply put when they were firing on all cylinders they were perfect escapist fare.

Currently in rotation on Turner Classic Movies, available on long out of print VHS tapes and supposedly due for DVD release when and if they manage to finish restoring the films.

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